Cocaine licenses are not for selling drug to public: Trudeau
Canadian PM comments on firms authorized to sell cocaine that are signaling Canada would allow legal sales of hard drugs to the public soon.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his surprise on Friday about firms licensed to sell cocaine to hospitals or pharmacists which seemed to signal Canada would allow legal sales of hard drugs to the public soon.
Earlier this week, several firms said that Canada's federal health agency had permitted them to produce and sell cocaine.
Their announcement came a month after the province of British Columbia started an experimental decriminalization process meant to deal with the opioid overdose crisis that has taken the lives of thousands.
The province decriminalized the possession, not the sale, of small amounts of cocaine and other hard drugs, under a 3-year pilot project, with an aim to remove the stigma associated with drug use that prevents people from seeking help.
In addition, advocates have been pushing for safer drugs to be made available to addicts who have a risk of dying from toxic drug poisoning related to illicit street drugs.
Trudeau explained that the firms did not have "permission to sell it commercially or provide it on an open market," noting that the misunderstanding would be corrected.
"There are limited and very restricted permissions for certain pharmaceutical companies to use that substance for research purposes and for very specific narrowly prescribed medical purposes," he clarified.
His comments came after British Columbia Premier David Eby voiced shock at Sunshine Earth Labs and Adastra Labs' claims.
"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 told reporters.
On Thursday, the British Premier said permitting sales of hard drugs, including cocaine, "is not part of our provincial plan."
Sunshine Earth Labs had stated that Health Canada permitted it to "legally possess, produce, sell and distribute coca leaf and cocaine," as well as morphine, MDMA, and heroin.
Adastra Labs had said its license also permitted it to produce and sell psilocybin and psilocin -- hallucinogens are more commonly known as magic mushrooms that produce effects similar to LSD.
British Columbia is the epicenter of a crisis that has witnessed since 2016 over 30,000 overdose deaths nationwide.
The province is only the second in North America to decriminalize personal possession of hard drugs in small amounts (up to 2.5 grams) after the US state of Oregon.