Drug companies allowed to sell heroin, cocaine, in Canada, shocks admins

The licenses are only for scientific and medicinal purposes.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Cocaine and heroin.jpg
Cocaine and heroin.


Two British Columbia recreational drug companies received federal approval to legally produce and sell cocaine, heroin, and MDMA, for scientific and medicinal purposes, according to an article by Semafor published on Friday.

Health Canada, the federal agency that oversees drug programs, emphasized that the new approval was not for use toward the general public.

The two companies are Sunshine Earth Labs, a psychedelics manufacturing company, and Adastra, a Cannabis company. 

The first said Thursday that Health Canada had approved the amendment to their drug license for the distribution of MDMA, cocaine, morphine, diacetylmorphine (DAM/heroin), and opium in September, and the second announced last month that it had also received a psilocybin and cocaine exemption in August.

Sunshine's CEO Donovan Edwards stated that his company will work on "securing global trade relationships to import ethically sourced medical products for safer supply."

Meanwhile, Adastra's CEO, Michael Forbes, said his company will evaluate how the commercialization of cocaine "fits in with our business model at Adastra in an effort to position ourselves to support the demand for a safe supply of cocaine."

In a statement, Health Canada emphasized the "very narrow parameters of (the companies’) license," and added that they can only sell to those who have cocaine listed on licenses like doctors, pharmacists, hospitals, or those who have exemptions for research purposes.

"If the strict requirements are not being followed, Health Canada will not hesitate to take action, which may include revoking the license," the agency explained.

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Legalizing drug trafficking

The move saw opposition from British Columbia’s government members. 

"Cocaine isn't prescribed, it isn't safe, and this is wrong," said David Falcon, leader of the provincial opposition, according to Semafor. "Commercializing cocaine as a business opportunity amounts to legalizing cocaine trafficking, full stop.”

In addition to the danger of addiction, these newly-approved drugs come with health warnings.

In October of 2022, a large-scale study conducted by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, (UCSF) on more than 23 million people found that some commonly used and abused drugs such as marijuana, meth, cocaine, and opiates may have a previously unknown adverse effect on heart health.

The mentioned effect is the risk of developing atrial fibrillation (AF), which is a potentially deadly heart rhythm disorder and "the most common type of treated heart arrhythmia," according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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