Alberta Health Services turns down big donation from cannabis group

Published Jan 19, 2021 12:00 p.m. ET
iStock / Rostislav_Sedlacek

Cannabis may still seem taboo in some circles, but for the most part, society as a whole has been incredibly accepting of the industry. There have been a few complaints about the smell and concerns about potential hazards along the way, but all of that is to be expected from something that still feels so new. What we have yet to see is a downright rejection of the cannabis industry, especially in Canada where the plant and its products are legal. That is, until now.

The inspiration Rick Beaver

Rick Beaver from Calgary grew and used all of his own cannabis for many years while advocating for those who wanted to do the same. Sadly, he passed away after battling cancer at 65 years old in 2018. According to Cindy Wong, the Treasurer of the Calgary Cannabis Club, “He would give the shirt off his back to you if you needed it, that’s the kind of guy he was.”

The man was an inspiration to many within the cannabis community, and to commemorate his passing and celebrate his life, the club raised $6,000, which it had hoped to donate to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in his memory. Alberta Health Services turned away the contribution, claiming that its ties to cannabis made it an inappropriate gift that could not be claimed by the agency. According to the AHS, the organization defers all donations that are offered by cannabis businesses or groups.

It all worked out in the end

The Calgary Cannabis Club made a generous donation of $6,000 to the Calgary Humane Society after it’s initial attempt to gift the money to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre was outright denied. A spokesperson for the Humane Society said that the gift is “greatly appreciated” while mentioning that the organization would be planting a tree in memory of a more recent loss from the Calgary Cannabis Club.

A new dilemma

Though the club was more than happy to have Rick remembered for his love of animals in part through a generous donation in his name to the Humane Society, they’ve recently lost another member, Chris LaFrance. He also spent a fair amount of time at the Tom Baker Cancer Center receiving treatment for his condition, and as a result, the club would like to donate in his memory. So far, the organization has gathered over $2,200, but for now, it doesn’t look like the Tom Baker Center will be able to get this money.

Alberta Health Services has actively supported the cannabis movement while working with some of the leading experts in the industry, but the rules surrounding cannabis-related donations that can be accepted haven’t changed.

Until they do, the Calgary Cannabis Club and any other green-friendly businesses, groups or organizations will have to find other worthy causes to support, which is a shame when donations like this could do a world of good for the Tom Baker Cancer Centre as well as other medical facilities that are bound by the restrictions laid out by Alberta Health Services.

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