In a heartbreaking turn of events, Alberta Health Services (AHS) has refused to accept a donation simply because it comes from a local cannabis company. The Calgary Cannabis Club raised $6,000, in honor of a loved one, to give to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, but now they have to decide what else to do with the money instead.
It is not easy to understand this decision considering that Canada made history in October 2018 as the second country in the world, after Uruguay, to legalize and regulate cannabis on the federal level.
The funds were raised through an auction event held in memory of former club member, Rick Beaver, who lost his battle to cancer at the age of 65. Beaver went to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre for treatments before he passed away in November of last year. The auction was in December, and the donation was refused by AHS in January.
According to Pat Parsons of the Calgary Cannabis Club, friends and fellow club members intended to give the money to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Rick’s name, as a way to commemorate him.
Rick was a long time proponent of cannabis as medication, and had a knack for home cultivation. “He was very educated when it came to cannabis,” Parsons said about his friend. “He knew about different treatments that would help him and other people.”
Rick relied heavily on cannabis to combat the debilitating symptoms associated with cancer, and the adverse effects caused by cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation.
“He knew he would be on a lot of other harsher drugs if he wasn’t medicating with cannabis,” Parsons told Global News. “Cannabis gave him as much of his life back as he could have in the later stages of his life which was, I think, a big part of the reason why he chose to stay positive.”
While donations from groups affiliated with cannabis are not currently being accepted, it is possible that this may change in the future.
“Until the engagement is complete and a longer-term perspective on cannabis philanthropy has been determined, AHS will defer accepting any donations from the cannabis sector,” Alberta Health Services said in a statement. “AHS will update its foundation partners about progress of the engagement throughout 2019 and will also provide materials to support board discussions and decision-making related to cannabis.”
With hope for the future, friends of Rick Beaver are still saddened by the current situation. “It was a little bit heartbreaking,” Parsons said. “The cannabis community came together to show our support for Rick, and we thought it would be a thoughtful way to give back to the community. I think part of it is the stigma behind cannabis.”
Rick preached about the benefits of growing at home, so the club may use the money to help other patients who want to follow in his footsteps.
Photo courtesy of Shaw Global News