Trudeau ‘surprised’ that B.C. firm talks about selling cocaine

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a Liberal party fundraising event at the Hotel Fort Garry in Winnipeg, Thursday, March 2, 2023. Trudeau says he is “as surprised as” B.C. Premier David Eby is after a firm received Health Canada licence amendments to produce and sell cocaine. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods)

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is “as surprised as” British Columbia Premier David Eby after a firm received Health Canada licence amendments to produce and sell cocaine.

Trudeau says the federal government is talking to Adastra Labs of Langley, B.C., about changing the language of its statements, after the company said it is looking for ways to incorporate cocaine into its business plan.

This comes as a second B.C. company says it is now licensed to produce, sell and distribute cocaine and MDMA, also known as ecstasy, although Health Canada says they cannot sell products to the general public. 

Victoria’s Sunshine Earth Labs, a biosciences firm that “aims to bring safer supply of drugs to the global market,” says it obtained an amended Controlled Drug and Substances Dealer’s Licence to include MDMA and cocaine last year. 

In a written statement, Health Canada says it “thoroughly reviews applications” to ensure licensees follow all existing policies on public health and safety.

The federal agency says Adastra’s licence is for “scientific and medical purposes only,” and licensees can only sell to others who are licensed to possess the substance.

The public uproar began after Adastra Labs said Health Canada approved its licence amendment to produce, sell and distribute cocaine on Feb. 17.

Eby said on Thursday that he was “astonished” by the news, and that the province had not been notified or consulted by Health Canada on the matter. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2023.

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