British Columbia’s Premier David Eby and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have expressed shock and concern over the recent announcement that Adastra Holdings Ltd. (CSE: XTRX) (FRA: D2EP), a British Columbia-based company, has been granted a license to process cocaine.
Adastra announced the approval to manufacture cocaine on February 17, which sparked interest from mainstream media, government officials and others.
However, Health Canada said in a statement to Mugglehead that the substance is only meant to be used by those with proper authorization.
“They are only permitted to sell substances listed on their licence to other controlled substances licence holders, to pharmacists, practitioners, hospitals and to holders of a section 56(1) exemption for research purposes,” said Health Canada in the statement.
Adastra is not the first to receive an amended dealer’s license from Health Canada permitting cocaine production. Victoria B.C.’s Sunshine Earth Labs also acquired approval to distribute cocaine to specific clients last November.
The news follows B.C. decriminalizing possession of small amounts of illegal drugs for personal use at the end of January.
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Health Canada offers clarification
Health Canada made it clear that the two companies are not permitted to sell controlled substances to the public and may revoke their licenses if they do not follow strict guidelines.
“Adastra Labs and Sunshine Earth Labs cannot sell any controlled substances to the general public. Health Canada has contacted both companies to reiterate the very narrow parameters of their licence and if the strict requirements are not being followed, Health Canada will not hesitate to take action, which may include revoking the licence,” said the statement.
The government branch also provided information about the proper medical uses of cocaine and its derivatives.
“Cocaine hydrochloride as a topical solution can be used as a topical anesthesia of the mucous membranes of the oral, laryngeal, and nasal cavities. In essence, it is used in medical procedures (such as surgeries) to numb the mouth, nose and throat or similar local areas,” said Health Canada.
“It is also used for the temporary treatment of nosebleeds before cauterization or packing. While cocaine has been used for other anesthetics procedures, the above mentioned uses are those used in current medicine.”
British Columbia Premier David Eby told local media on Thursday he was “astonished” Health Canada has granted the company that amendment to its dealer’s license and Prime Minster Justin Trudeau said on Friday he was “as surprised as” Eby.
Premier David Eby doesn't seem too happy with a Langley company claiming it is getting approval from Health Canada to make and sell cocaine, saying "it's not part of our provincial plan." More tonight on Global News Hour at 6. pic.twitter.com/9xdhBDlzQu
— Global BC (@GlobalBC) March 3, 2023
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Adastra’s share price shot up on Friday and dropped on Monday
Adastra is only permitted to produce 250 grams of cocaine this year for its designated clients. The company said it would consult provincial governments before undertaking activities involving cocaine in a news release on Friday.
“The dealer’s licence issued to Adastra Labs does not permit Adastra Labs to sell coca leaf, psilocybin or cocaine to the general public,” said the company on Friday.
Adastra saw a sharp rise in its share price after receiving the amendment, and on Friday, the company’s stock value rose by about 48 per cent to $1.33 on the Canadian Securities Exchange. It later dropped significantly on Monday by about 44 per cent to $0.74.
Lucy Scientific Discovery Inc. (NASDAQ: LSDI), another Victoria-based company, also applied for approval from Health Canada to produce cocaine and heroin in mid-February but is yet to receive the amended dealer’s license. Lucy says the move is intended to reduce harm from adulterated drugs, particularly fentanyl.