"We are dealing with one of the most severe violations ever discovered in our region,"
A class action lawsuit in the amount of 133 million NIS was filed against the 8 medical cannabis companies in Israel after pesticides were found in medical products that were sold to patients. “From the most severe violations ever recorded in Israel,” the lawyers write, and also reveal testimonies of former employees in the companies. A government investigation was opened.
The class action suit was filed at a Tel Aviv District Court against all medical cannabis companies in Israel: “Tikkun Olam”, “Teva Adir”, “Siach”, “Aspiration for Life”, “IMC”, “Pharmocann”, “Canduk” and “Better”.
The plaintiffs are 8 Israelis with licenses to use medical cannabis, who are now demanding compensation from the Cannabis companies of 133,000,000 NIS for all medical cannabis patients in Israel who used their products for about seven years since the industry was established in 2009.
Cannabis with toxic substances
The patients demand 5,000 NIS per patient for violations of the law that the growing companies caused them and the 26,600 patients to “consume low-quality medical cannabis stored in defective packages containing toxic pesticides that have never been permitted by the Ministry of Health” – this is according to Tthe prosecution.
These claims of the patients against cannabis growers are based on laboratory tests published in a separate petition to the High Court of Justice which found that in the cannabis in Israel there are traces of chemical pesticides that are forbidden for use in agriculture, mold residues, and overall low cannabinoids (THC/CBD) content.
“We are dealing with one of the most severe violations ever discovered in our region,” write the attorneys Jonathan Rapaport, Adam Levine and Roy Biton, who represent the patients in the case, based on the findings in the case filed by attorney Yaniv Peretz.
“The Cannabis farms failures led to the fact that people suffering from severe, and in many cases incurable, physical or mental illnesses inhaled low-quality cannabis containing large amounts of prohibited pesticides for years,” the lawyers explain in the document.
Testimonies from Within
In addition to the findings of the laboratory tests revealed in the petition to the High Court of Justice, the lawyers are also presenting for the first time testimonies from former senior employees who acted within the cannabis companies themselves, and testify openly to alleged crimes.
For example, a former employee of “Teva Adir” named Liad Mordov, who attests herself as the company’s former vice president, claims that as part of her job, she was told to conceal from patients the true figures of the percentage of active ingredients in cannabis, even though she knew they were much lower.
Former CEO of the same company, Zacharia Paz, also attests to failures in the conduct of his previous partners and strengthens one of the most prominent arguments in the petition against the Ministry of Health, and that the Medical Cannabis Unit has never initiated quality and control tests in any of the growing farms – not even once.
A government investigation was opened
In interviews with The Israeli Cannabis magazine, all but one of the companies admitted that they did use chemical pesticides, and some even claimed that this was done in coordination and with the approval of the Ministry of Health. Only a few weeks later, the Ministry of Health clarified that it had never approved the use of chemical pesticides.
Following the new information that was revealed, several weeks ago the Israeli Ministries of Health and Agriculture opened separate investigations against the medical cannabis companies and their conduct. The investigations are in progress and the two ministries refuse to reveal their findings.
As a result of these findings, the patients demand compensation in the amount of NIS 133 million, along with a request from the court to instruct the Cannabis companies to correct the deficiencies and to act in accordance with the procedures. This is the first time in Israel that Cannabis medical patients have filed a class action against the companies.
The lawyers representing the patients in the suit stated that “the petition was filed on behalf of all the medical cannabis patients who consumed medical cannabis during the course of their lives from the growing companies operating in Israel, and we believe that this is one of the most blatant cases of violation of autonomy ever discovered in the State of Israel.”
Comments from cannabis growers and the Ministry of Agriculture and Health have not yet been received.
Originally published in Weed World Magazine Issue 133