Calgary Humane Society benefits after AHS turns down honorary donation from cannabis group

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A Calgary medical marijuana advocate who died from cancer is being remembered at the Humane Society. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, Alberta Health Services turned down donations in his name – Jan 4, 2021

A Calgary cannabis group has made a donation to the Calgary Humane Society after its initial request to donate $6,000 to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre was turned down.

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.

Read more: AHS turns down donation from Calgary cannabis group that wants to honor former cancer patient

“He was really down to earth,” said friend Cindy Wong, who is also the treasurer of the Calgary Cannabis Club.

“He would give the shirt off his back to you if you needed it, that’s the kind of guy he was.”

After Beaver passed away, the Calgary Cannabis Club raised $6,000 that members hoped to donate to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.

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But Alberta Health Services turned the money down because of the club’s ties to cannabis.

“I was shocked. Really hurt that they wouldn’t accept the donation,” Wong said.

A bench dedicated to Beaver now sits at the Calgary Humane Society. The club decided to donate the $6,000 to help animals there.

“It was very important. It gave us relief because we could actually do something in honour of the man.

“He did a lot for the club. He was very knowledgeable and he helped a lot of people who were dealing with cancer,” Wong said.

Read more: Cannabis edibles arrive on Alberta store shelves

Two years ago, when the Calgary Cannabis Club tried to donate to the Tom Baker Cancer Society, AHS said it was in the process of developing a long-term policy on cannabis donations.

A statement provided to Global News on Monday said that AHS continues to not accept donations from the cannabis sector.

“Alberta Health Services (AHS) continues to engage on cannabis philanthropy with health leaders from across Canada, in both provincial and federal jurisdictions.

“Since the legalization of cannabis in 2018, AHS has provided ongoing support to its philanthropic partners to help them develop their own policies around cannabis philanthropy. AHS does not direct the types of gifts foundations may choose to accept, but has been working in partnership to help facilitate board discussions and to provide tools that can assist foundations in decision-making around gift acceptance.

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“As this engagement continues, AHS currently continues to defer accepting donations from the cannabis sector,” the statement reads.

Wong said medical cannabis helped Beaver get through his treatments.

“It helped a lot, but with the stigma of cannabis, the stigma overrules the medical aspect,” Wong said.

The Calgary Cannabis Club lost another member to cancer since Beaver died. Chris LaFrance was also receiving treatment at the Tom Baker Centre.

The club has raised over $2,200 in LaFrance’s name which it would like to give to the Tom Baker Centre.

“Definitely we would be donating and we would hope we would be able to raise some more money and put it in Rick and Chris’s names to the Tom Baker because they were in the centre for their treatments,” Wong said.

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A spokesperson for the Calgary Humane Society said the donation the organization received from the Calgary Cannabis Club was “greatly appreciated,” adding there is also a tree planted at the facility in memory of another member of the club.

“The donation that Calgary Humane Society received was in memory of Rick’s love of animals and of the comfort that animals gave him when going through a truly difficult period of his life,” said Jessica Bohrson, senior manager of communications with the Calgary Humane Society.

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“It was important for the Calgary Cannabis Club that Rick be remembered for his love for animals and of the community.”

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