LP Model Continues to Fail While Patients Suffer

When something as important as our medicine is put in the hands of a regressive and insulated government, we hope for the best and prepare for the worst. When Health Canada’s scheme to take medical cannabis from experienced growers and permit only a small group of companies to cultivate, produce, and distribute our medicine was introduced, we expected failure. What comes as a surprise is the continuing parade of corruption, poor products, transparent disregard for the needs of the people, and patients suffering at the hands of bureaucracy. This week featured two more stories of incompetence and failure from the industry entrusted with our medicine. Forever troubled Tilray has decided to create its own body to govern the medical cannabis industry (read: themselves) while Bedrocan has taken out a loan just to keep afloat.

LP Model Continues to Fail While Patients SufferTilray, who in the past has been plagued by bacteria-infected cannabis that they needed to recall, announced that they have parted ways with the Canadian Medical Cannabis Industry Association (CMCIA), having been unable to come to an agreement on a Code of Ethics to govern the industry. Besides being stricken with unease by the notion that this far into the LP model they have yet to agree on a code of ethics, we’re concerned about the idea of a company starting an organization to govern itself when they are so obviously incapable. We’re letting the lunatics run the asylum.

In a press release Tilray claimed that the “new association will represent licensed producers and other stakeholders who are committed to building long-term trust with patients by ensuring the highest standards of ethical behaviour across the entire medical cannabis supply chain, including the interactions between licensed producers and physicians.” We’re assuming “other stakeholders” does not refer to patients, but rather the investors whose profits require that Tilray govern itself. And the “long-term” trust they refer to is counter to their attitude of dismissal when their products needed to be recalled. As we wrote at the time,

“Tilray, a Nanaimo-based cannabis producer, recalled three of their strains for bacterial contamination, which affected between three and four hundred patients. Tilray claimed that the bacteria known as enterobacter is not associated with any acute health risks, but according to the Public Health Agency of Canada it is classified as an “infectious substance” that’s linked to pneumonia, meningitis and cerebral abscesses. Bacterial contaminations in cannabis are especially dangerous for patients with cancer or AIDS whose immune systems are already compromised; making Tilray’s minimizing of the potential risk an irresponsible and dangerous act. Most frightening of all was Health Canada’s reaction to the recall in which they refused to even name the bacteria let alone say how much was in the product or how it could have gotten there; a fry cry from the informative and transparent approach they took to a recent Lilydale chicken product recall.”

It should be noted that Tilray’s PR firm, EnergiPR, who claim to be “well-connected in the consumer/corporate, beauty/fashion and travel/tourism space, with a dedicated healthcare/pharmaceutical PR practice,” prepared the release. Local, community-based growers rarely require PR firms to get you your medicine, and that Tilray needs EnergiPR to soften the blow of their suspect decision to sever ties with the CMCIA is in and of itself alarming.

Meanwhile, Bedrocan has until now remained relatively quiet amongst its troubled LP brethren. Recently they were part of a consortium of LPs (with Tweed Marijuana Inc. and Mettrum Health Corp.) who will be “along with the Collège des médecins du Quebec (CMQ), financing the launch of a provincial medicinal cannabis registry. It is expected to be one of the largest studies of medical cannabis ever conducted. Led by Dr. Mark Ware, the goal is to provide the funds necessary to support the first year of operations of the registry. The funds will be provided to the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids (CCIC) who will provide a grant to the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre.” Less than a month later they need $2 million just to stay afloat.

Bedrocan claims that,

“It is expected that the proceeds from the Loan will be used to support the Company’s operations related to production capacity scale-up and the associated increase in sales and marketing activities following its first two domestic harvests. The Company’s fully-functional new manufacturing facility is currently operating at approximately 2,000 kg/year, after the recent approval of 18 of a total of 34 production rooms by Health Canada.  The Company expects to expand to 4,000 kg/year upon Health Canada approval of the entire facility.”

While we understand that all initiatives need capital, and that start-ups experience growing pains, we are deeply troubled by the unending flow of failure from the Health Canada-created monopoly, and Bedrocan is indicative of those failures. Surely there’s a better way to cultivate and distribute medicine. Oh, wait… there is.

The federal government created Licensed Producers of medical cannabis and issued licences to a select group in order to create a monopoly over medicine, industrialize and monetize healthcare, marginalize communities, and extend a prohibition that its populace wants ended. The resulting system has been an unmitigated failure and patients across the country are left without access to the medicine they need. When systems fail, they need to be replaced. The latest failings of Tilray and Bedrocan are further examples that that time has come.