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A British Columbia cannabis company says it has received approval from Health Canada to produce, sell, and distribute cocaine.
In a news release on Feb. 22, Adastra Holdings Ltd., which produces marijuana for adult use and medical sales out of headquarters in Langley, B.C., announced that it was granted a Health Canada amendment to its Controlled Drug and Substances Dealer’s License on Feb. 17.
The company can now “legally possess, produce, sell and distribute” cocaine, in addition to previously being allowed to deal up to 1,000 grams of psilocybin and psilocin, otherwise known as magic mushrooms.
The news release indicates Adastra can “interact with up to 250 grams” of cocaine, and can import coca leaves to manufacture and synthesize the hard drug in Canada.
Adastra’s Health Canada approval follows a federal government approval for B.C. that, as of Jan. 31, granted the province a temporary three-year exemption to allow adults to legally possess up to 2.5 grams of any combination of opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine, MDMA, heroin, fentanyl, and/or morphine for personal use, at no risk of being arrested, charged, or having their drugs seized.
The CEO of Adastra, Michael Forbes, is a pharmacist who formerly worked in multiple methadone pharmacies, according to the company, and is a proponent of “harm reduction,” which is a philosophy that promotes reducing negative consequences associated with drug use, but without requiring abstinence from drugs or addiction treatment.
Adastra’s release says he previously “piloted a needle exchange program” at the direction of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in 2010. Forbes is the creator of the Forbes Group, which has multiple companies ranging from moving storage, cannabis, health care services, and advertising.
The federal government has been supportive of the B.C. decriminalization plan, with federal Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett saying on Jan. 30 that it will reduce “the stigma, the fear, and shame that keep people who use drugs silent about their use, or using alone.”
Conservatives have been critical of the plan, with leader Pierre Poilievre saying B.C.’s approach to the issue has been an “abject failure.”
“Decriminalization has been in place in B.C. now since about 2017 in reality,” he said on Feb. 1. “The results are in. The debate is over. It has been a disaster, an absolute abject failure.”