A second B.C. company has said Health Canada has given it the green light to possess, produce, sell and distribute cocaine, among other substances, to “bring a safer supply of drugs to the global market.”
Sunshine Earth Labs, a biosciences company in Victoria, said Health Canada has granted them three amendments in the past seven months, to include MDMA, cocaine/coca leaf, opium, morphine and diacetylmorphine, into their dealers licence.
Health Canada made the latest amendment allowing the company to legally possess, produce, and sell cocaine on Jan. 12.
“We are incredibly proud of the progress we have made in the last year,” said Donovan Edwards, Sunshine’s CEO, in a press release.
“Since inception, we have been proactively pursuing amendments to our Dealer’s License to include MDMA, Coca Leaf, Cocaine, Opium, Morphine, and Diacetylmorphine to position ourselves as a legitimate safer supply partner.
“We will continue to work on securing global trade relationships to import ethically sourced medical products for safer supply.”
Sunshine Labs gave an update statement on Friday, which falls directly in line with comments made by Health Canada late Thursday.
It said its “regulated activities” fall under tight limitations imposed by Health Canada.
The sale of substances can only occur under specific guidelines of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
Sales are only allowed to another licensed dealer, pharmacist, practitioner, or hospital employee provided they have the necessary Health Canada Licence.
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On Thursday, Global News reported a Langley-based lab, Adastra Labs, said it was granted amendments to its dealer licence to “interact” with up to 250 grams of cocaine (nearly nine ounces), to import coca leaves to manufacture and synthesize the substance.
It said it received its approval from Health Canada on Feb. 17.
“We will evaluate how the commercialization of this substance fits in with our business model at Adastra in an effort to position ourselves to support the demand for a safe supply of cocaine.”
On Friday, Adastra labs retracted that previous statement.
“The Dealer’s Licence issued to Adastra Labs does not permit Adastra Labs to sell coca leaf, psilocybin or cocaine to the general public,” Adasta staff said in a release.
“For cocaine, and under the Dealer’s Licence, Adastra Labs is only permitted to sell to other licensed dealers who have cocaine listed on their licence including pharmacists, practitioners, hospitals, or the holder of a section 56(1) exemption for research purposes under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA).
“The company is not currently undertaking any activities with cocaine under the Dealer’s Licence and before doing so, it will only undertake such activities legally permitted by the Dealer’s Licence and after consultation with applicable Provincial Governments.”
On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “as surprised” as B.C. Premier David Eby to hear of the granted amendment to Adastra Labs by Health Canada.
“I was as surprised as the premier of British Columbia was to see that a company was talking about selling cocaine on the open market or commercializing it,” Trudeau said on Friday.
“There are limited and very restricted permissions for certain pharmaceutical companies to use that substance for research purposes for very specific, narrowly prescribed medical purposes.
“It is not a permission to sell it commercially or provide it on an open market.”
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Trudeau went on to say the federal government is working quickly with Adastra to correct the misunderstanding, which was reflected in the company’s Friday release.
Also on Friday, Eby gave further comment regarding his reaction to the Health Canada decisions.
“I am also wondering what the intention of Health Canada was in granting these licences, especially to a company that significantly misrepresented the nature of the licence in a press release,” he said at a press conference.
“We are following up with Health Canada to get answers for British Columbians about this.
Eby went on to say the federal and B.C. governments need to be in lock step in regards to addressing toxic drug supply and addiction issues.
Health Canada did confirm on Friday that Sunshine Labs has received amendments to their Dealers Licenses to include cocaine.
The national authority reiterated that both Adastra Labs and Sunshine Labs cannot sell any controlled substances to the general public, as well.
Late Thursday, Health Canada provided an emailed response to Global News.
“Adastra Labs is licensed by Health Canada for this controlled substance for scientific and medical purposes only.”
Health Canada reiterated the permission to sell will be only allowed to other licence holders, who have cocaine listed on their licence, pharmacists, hospitals, or the holder of a section 56(1) exemption for research purposes.
“Health Canada thoroughly reviews applications to ensure that all the appropriate policies and procedures are in place to maintain public health, safety and security,” Health Canada said.
“If the strict requirements are not being followed, Health Canada will not hesitate to take action, which may include revoking the licence.”
— with files from Canadian Press