Canada Turns to the Pot Industry for Help With COVID-19 Testing

The single most effective tool against the coronavirus is testing. But countries and states are finding it difficult to obtain or test enough swabs. Now, Canadian health officials are turning to the cannabis industry for help. They hope the labs that typically check for cannabinoids could shift focus to running results for COVID-19.

In an email sent to licensed cannabis industry executives on Thursday obtained by BNN Bloomberg, Health Canada acting director general Joanne Garrah asked respondents if there was any spare lab capacity to assist the country with COVID-19 testing. "Health Canada is working to identify lab capacity that might be available across the country in various sectors, including at licensed cannabis production sites, to assist with supporting COVID-19 testing," the email stated.

We are currently working to understand the specific needs and related questions, and we will be it touch in the coming days to request more information. If you have lab capacity within your facility and are interested in assisting, please notify us by email."

Bloomberg reports that Aurora Cannabis Inc. is one of the companies that may turn its lab over to coronavirus testing. Its CEO is in the process of determining whether its lab is capable of that.

The United States desperately needs better testing capacity itself. But unlike Canada, American cannabis companies are operating illicitly under federal law.