It’s a misunderstanding “. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a point of clarifying his government’s position on Friday, March 3, and the scope of the authorization given to two companies to produce and sell cocaine to the general public.

These pharmaceutical companies announced this week that they had obtained a license from Canada’s federal health agency (Health Canada) to produce and sell cocaine, a month after the province of British Columbia launched a experimental pilot project for the decriminalization of hard drugs.

One of these companies, Adastra Labs, backpedaled at the end of the day on Friday, assuring that this license “does not authorize it to sell (…) cocaine to the general public”. Because according to Mr. Trudeau, the issuance of this authorization to produce cocaine has nothing to do with experimentation in British Columbia, and is in fact aimed in a separate project to allow companies to use this substance for “ extremely limited research and medical needs”.

“There is no intention, there is no permission to sell this on the market and share this with Canadians,” hammered the prime minister, who said he was “shocked” during a trip in Winnipeg (Manitoba, central). “We are in the process of correcting the situation on that because it is not something that we endorse as a country. »

A Restricted ‘Research Purpose’ Framework

A few hours later, the company Adastra Labs therefore published a corrective press release and clarified that it could, under the terms of Health Canada’s authorization, sell cocaine “only to other authorized distributors whose license mentions cocaine, including pharmacists, practitioners, hospitals or holders of an exemption (…) for research purposes”.

Another company, Sunshine Earth Labs, which also declared this week that it could “legally possess, produce, sell, and distribute coca leaf and cocaine”, had not yet issued a corrective statement on Friday.

This decriminalization in British Columbia of the possession of small amounts of heroin, fentanyl and other hard drugs, is a first in the country: it was launched as part of a three-year pilot project aimed at trying to address a serious opioid overdose crisis. The province is the epicenter of this crisis which has seen more than 10,000 people die there of overdoses since a public health emergency was declared in 2016, or about six daily deaths, out of a population of some five million.

British Columbia follows in this approach the American state of Oregon (north-west), which decriminalized so-called hard drugs in November 2020.