A Canadian politician is seeking answers after discovering that the country’s health system has given its approval for a cannabis company to possess, produce, sell and distribute cocaine.
Health Canada, the entity responsible for Canada’s national health policy, approved an amendment on Feb. 17 that would allow Adastra Labs in Langley, British Columbia, to sell, produce and distribute cocaine, CBC reported. This revelation came as a shock to B.C. Premier David Eby, who told the outlet he was “astonished” to learn of the approval and that the provincial government had not been notified.
Health Canada has granted a British Columbia cannabis company the right to possess, produce, sell and distribute cocaine. https://t.co/w1T4CY4iVb
— CBC British Columbia (@cbcnewsbc) March 3, 2023
In an effort to battle rising opioid addiction and overdose deaths, Canada has been working with all levels of government to stem the crisis. One such effort is a program known as “safer supply” which allows people battling addiction to receive prescriptions for otherwise illicit substances in an effort to assist them as they withdraw from their use instead of turning to unsafe street drugs, Stat News reported. (RELATED: Authorities Seize $20 Million In Fentanyl Disguised As Prescription Drugs From Notorious Cartel))
“It is not part of our provincial plan,” Eby told CBC.
“Cocaine isn’t prescribed, it isn’t safe, and this is wrong,” Opposition Leader Kevin Falcon told the B.C. Legislature, according to the outlet. “Commercializing cocaine as a business opportunity amounts to legalizing cocaine trafficking, full stop.”
Kevin Hollett, a spokesman for the B.C. Centre on Substance Use, echoed this concern, telling CBC that, as far as he knew, “prescribed safer supply in BC is focused on opioids, so I’m not clear how this might fit in, if it does at all.”
Health Canada defended its decision to grant the license, assuring CBC that Adastra Labs can only sell cocaine for scientific and medical purposes and could not distribute to the general public. Health Canada specified that the license would only allow Adastra Labs to distribute to pharmacists, practitioners and hospitals for research purposes.
Adastra Labs also defended the move, telling the outlet their newly approved license allows the company to “interact” with 250 grams of cocaine and gives them permission to import coca leaves and to develop and synthesize the drug.
“Harm reduction is a critically important and mainstream topic, and we are staying at the forefront of drug regulations across the board,” Adastra CEO Michael Forbes told CBC. “We proactively pursued the amendment to our Dealer’s License to include cocaine back in December 2022.”
Forbes also revealed that his company plans to gauge how the “commercialization of the substance fits in with its business model” so that the company can “position itself to support the demand for a safe supply of cocaine,” CBC reported.
In response, Health Canada assured CBC that Adastra Labs has been reminded of the “very narrow parameters of their licence.”
“If the strict requirements are not being followed, Health Canada will not hesitate to take action, which may include revoking the licence,” Health Canada added.