A Calgary cannabis group is disappointed after being told that the Tom Baker Cancer Centre will not be getting a $6,000 donation from its members.
In November 2018, 65-year-old Rick Beaver died after battling cancer. The Calgary man grew and used his own medical marijuana, and was an advocate for others to grow their own.
“Rick was a passionate person,” said Pat Parsons, a Calgary Cannabis Club board member. “He was very educated when it came to cannabis. He knew about different treatments that would help him and other people.”
Parsons said medical cannabis helped Beaver get through his treatments.
“He knew he would be on a lot of other harsher drugs if he wasn’t medicating with cannabis,” Parsons said. “Cannabis gave him as much of his life back as he could have in the later stages of his life which was, I think, a big part of the reason why he chose to stay positive.”
In December 2018, the Calgary Cannabis Club held an auction that raised $6,000. The group contacted Alberta Health Services with the hopes of donating the money to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.
“We felt really good about giving it back to the community and the Tom Baker in particular because I spent a lot of time with Rick while he was going through his last therapies there,” Parsons said. “The chemo was very hard on him but the staff there were really good to him.”
Parsons said he was told the Tom Baker Cancer Centre would not be able to accept the donation.
A statement to Global News from Alberta Health Services said they are in the process of developing a long-term policy on cannabis donations.
“Alberta Health Services (AHS) is engaging with health leaders from across Canada, including Health Canada and in Alberta, to develop a long-term perspective on cannabis philanthropy,” the statement read.
AHS said engagement will continue throughout the year, with foundations having opportunities to provide input.
“AHS does not direct what kind of gifts foundations may or may not accept,” the statement said. “Until the engagement is complete and a longer-term perspective on cannabis philanthropy has been determined, AHS will defer accepting any donations from the cannabis sector. AHS will update its foundation partners about progress of the engagement throughout 2019 and will also provide materials to support board discussions and decision-making related to cannabis.”
Parsons said the group was discouraged by the news.
“It was a little bit heartbreaking,” he said. “The cannabis community came together to show our support for Rick and we thought it would be a thoughtful way to give back to the community. I think part of it is the stigma behind cannabis.
“When you hear the word ‘cannabis’ maybe you think black market or an illegal cannabis. The fact is most of the people in our club are medical patients that have a prescription.”
The club is considering donating the money to help medical cannabis users grow their own marijuana.