A former CannTrust Holdings Inc. employee who previously spoke out on alleged transgressions at the company had mixed feelings when he learned Tuesday that its licence to produce and sell recreational and medical cannabis in Canada was suspended by federal regulators.
“I was hoping Health Canada would investigate those directly involved with the wrongdoing and that they would be reprimanded,” Nick Lalonde told BNN Bloomberg in a phone interview. “But there are innocent people at CannTrust who weren’t involved and are likely to lose their jobs. It’s just not fair to them.”
Lalonde, who described himself in the phone interview as the “whistleblower in the CannTrust case,” worked at CannTrust from July 2017 to May of this year. He made headlines in July when he alleged staff at CannTrust’s Pelham, Ont. facility had been asked to install temporary walls in an attempt to hide unlicensed pot production from Health Canada officials.
“They were following regulations for about a month,” Lalonde told BNN Bloomberg in a phone interview in July. “And then all of a sudden, they stopped following regulations and started cutting corners and breaking rules.” Lalonde had claimed 15 to 30 people were working in the rooms each day, prior to them being properly licensed.
Since leaving the company, Lalonde has not pursued work in the cannabis industry. Instead, he returned to his first career in cement finishing. “That’s what I know,” Lalonde told BNN Bloomberg. “It’s killing me, but there’s nothing I can do about. If I didn’t leave, I would still be in the thick of things at CannTrust.”
Several years ago, Lalonde says he was diagnosed with ADPKD, a genetic kidney disease. He says he initially loved his job at CannTrust, which he found to be less taxing on his body. He had hoped to have a long career at the company.
“It was great having a salaried job, especially if I needed a couple of days off. I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to physically work in the concrete business. Here, you either work or you don’t get paid. It’s been hell. I am very far behind on my bill payments. And today, my car insurance was cancelled. Financially, I’m devastated.”
Lalonde says he has little contact with his former colleagues at CannTrust, some of whom blame him for the company’s woes. “Nobody’s contacting me at all. I’m a piece of [expletive] to them.”
Earlier this month, CannTrust announced it had laid off 20 per cent of its workforce, or 180 people, as it sought to restructure the business.
Despite the backlash and his personal financial woes, Lalonde says he would still blow the whistle if he had to do it over again.
“If I don’t do the right thing in life, I can’t sleep at night. So I would absolutely do it again.”
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