Langley Cannabis Company Approved to Sell Cocaine: B.C Premier Responds

Langley cannabis company Adastra Holdings has the Canadian media in a whirlwind with its declaration that Health Canada has permitted it to legally possess, produce, sell, and distribute cocaine… and it’s not the only one. It begs the question: what’s the story behind this decision, and what medical uses does cocaine have, anyway? Let’s dive right in.

Health Canada Grants Langley Cannabis Company Permission to Sell Cocaine… Or Does It?

In an initial statement dated February 22nd, 2023, a representative of Adastra Holdings stated that their team received Health Canada approval “to include cocaine as a substance that the company can legally possess, produce, sell, and distribute”, which amends its Controlled Drug and Substances Dealer’s License. With this amendment, Adastra Holdings says that they are now approved to interact with up to 250 grams of cocaine, as well as being permitted to import coca leaves to manufacture and synthesize their substance.

Why? Well, as part of B.C’s new drug decriminalization pilot program, which announces that adults will not be arrested or charged for possession of drugs, and that said drugs will not be seized if they’re found in possession of up to 2.5 grams of illicit substances. But the plot thickens: in early March, Adastra Holdings issued a hasty retraction of their initial statement that they had received permission from Health Canada. This retraction came one day after B.C Premier David Eby publicly expressed shock that Health Canada had authorized Adastra Holdings to sell cocaine and, if it had done so, had done so without the province’s knowledge.

“I am also wondering what the intention of Health Canada was in granting this licence, especially to a company that apparently so significantly misrepresented the nature of the licence and in the press release that they issued,” Eby told reporters. In reply, Adastra clarified that, under its Dealer’s Licence, it is only allowed to sell cocaine “to other licensed dealers who have cocaine listed on their licence including pharmacists, practitioners, hospitals, or the holder of section 56(1) exemption for research purposes under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA).

“The Dealer’s Licence issued to Adastra Labs does not permit Adastra Labs to sell coca leaf, psilocybin or cocaine to the general public,” reads their latest release. “Adastra Holdings is not currently undertaking any activities with cocaine under the Dealer’s Licence and before doing so, will only undertake such activities legally permitted by the Dealer’s Licence and after consultation with applicable Provincial Governments.”

Sunshine Labs: The Original Legalised Cocaine Supplier

Despite the media kerfuffle with Adastra Holdings, they’re not the only British Columbian company to supposedly have been granted this permission by Health Canada–or even the first. Sunshine Labs, a Life Sciences company whose mission orbits around producing psychedelics and related products for a safer drug supply, is British Columbia’s first legal vendor of cocaine and has been since November 2022. In 2022, Sunshine Labs was given permission by Health Canada to manufacture and sell MDMA, opium, morphine, and diacetylmorphine, whereas before they were only allowed to legally produce and sell psilocybin and psilocin.

Like Adastra Holdings, their representatives say that this is a positive change for B.C’s decriminalisation program. Although Sunshine Labs doesn’t currently produce or sell cocaine, the ability to do so is important. “We have the opportunity to provide it if necessary or requested, but that would have to come under specific guidelines from the province,” said Donovan Edwards, CEO of Sunshine Labs in an interview with the Toronto Star. “You can’t have that safer supply without there being a supply.”

Potential Medicinal Uses of Legalised Cocaine

 Although cocaine has a high public profile as an illegal addictive drug, it also has a long and distinguished history as a medicine and local anesthetic. In fact, cocaine and its derivatives are effective local anesthetics when operating on delicate areas of the body like the ears, nose, or throat, and can also be administered to alleviate the physical and mental pain of terminal diseases. With B.C’s action steps towards shifting cocaine’s uses back to these roots–and providing a cleaner, safer drug supply to those who use recreationally–it’s proving to be a turning point in Canadian history. What are your thoughts?
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