Lab creates buzz with news of cocaine production

Someone at Adastra Labs in Langley, B.C., must have been sampling the wares when they announced last Thursday that they would produce, sell, and distribute cocaine.

image: MedlinePlus

The story created a buzz at the Daily Hive ( where I saw it first.

I was incredulous. My first reaction was that it must be a joke.

But it was no joke. The news was carried by reliable Canadian sites and even in France and the UK.

B.C. Premier Eby said he was “astonished” when he heard the news. He had not been consulted by Health Canada who approved Adastra.

“I find it more than a little bit frustrating that Health Canada is not apparently in line with us in terms of the direction we’re going,” said Eby. “We need to work together on the toxic drug crisis and our response to it.”

Prime Minister Trudeau he was “as surprised as” Eby, He said that the federal government was “working very quickly” with Adastra Labs “to correct the misunderstanding” caused by the company’s statement on commercialization.

My second reaction was that it was a ballsy plan to snub the law just as shops had done by openly selling pot before it was legalized.

B.C. has decriminalized possession the possession of 2.5 grams of drugs, including cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, methamphetamine and morphine. Shops like Adastra were going to dare the cops to arrest them and challenge the stupid decriminalization law, I thought.

The problem with decriminalization is that while possession may be legal, the sale of drugs is not. What sense does it make to possess something you can’t legally buy? Adastra Labs must have been flouting the law to make that absurdity obvious.

Then Adastra Labs revised its original statement. They won’t sell to just anyone.

It turns out that their amended Controlled Drug and Substances Dealer’s Licence does not permit the firm to sell cocaine and other drugs to the general public. Under the Dealer’s Licence, Adastra Labs is only permitted to sell to other licensed dealers who have drugs listed on their licence including pharmacists, practitioners, hospitals for research purposes under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Confusion aside, the amended licences to Adastra Labs represents progress. Victoria’s Sunshine Earth Labs also has an amended licence to produce, sell and distribute MDMA cocaine, opium and morphine to other licensed dealers.

Sunshine Earth issued a revised statement, saying the company is licensed to conduct activities with these controlled substances “under tight limitations imposed by Health Canada.”

This means that doctors now have access to drugs, including MDMA and psilocybin for psychotherapy on behalf of patients who have serious, treatment-resistant, or life-threatening conditions.

A psychedelics company has received federal approval to use MDMA (ecstasy) to treat patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Numinus, a Vancouver-based health company specializing in psychedelic research, will treat 20 people suffering from PTSD using MDMA-assisted therapy.

The panic that hippies were blowing their minds on mind-warping drugs is subsiding.

Now MDMA and psilocybin are joining other mood-enhancing chemicals that have been legal for years; drugs like Effexor (Venlafaxine), available since 2008, used to treat depression, anxiety and panic attacks.


Bureaucracy (the word) is dead

Nobody talks about bureaucracy anymore. When they do, it’s a quaint word from the Sixties when hippies raged against faceless bureaucrats.


Those faceless gray bureaucrats turned us into to numbers, not the individualistic, free-willed, peace-loving, flower children that we were. Paperbacks like The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit reflected our disdain.

The word may be passé but bureaucracies are as popular as ever. Conservatives like to talk about small, lean governments. They like to cut red tape and trim regulations. They imply that pointy-headed bureaucrats are colluding with the parasitic poor to insure their own jobs and perpetuate the pitiful poor. Often the rhetoric has distinct racists overtones when it comes to handouts for Indian Bands.

However, the rhetoric doesn’t match practice. Before Stephen Harper took office in 2005, there were 144,000 civil servants according to Statistics Canada. By 2015, there were 13,000 more living off the taxes of we hardworking Canadians.

How can this paradox be? No prime minister has tried harder to reduce government and deregulate the marketplace than Harper. David Graeber has an answer:

“Indeed, this paradox can be observed so regularly that I think we are justified in treating it as a general sociological principle. Let’s call it the Iron Law of Liberalism: Any market reform or government initiative intended to reduce red tape and promote market forces will ultimately increase the number of regulations and bureaucrats, as well as the amount of paperwork, that the government employs (Harper’s magazine, March 2015).” (No, the irony of the magazine’s name is not lost on me.)

Conservative governments like to talk about becoming more business-like but businesses are as bureaucratic as governments. The argument needs to be turned on its head: bureaucracies were the forerunners of government. Take the Hudson’s Bay Company, for example. Before there was a Canada, there was HBC. Bureaucracies were the only way of administering such a vast territory and they did it well. Governments up until that time were non-bureaucratic: controlled by monarchs and rich families.

Canada became a manageable country by emulating the corporate bureaucracy of the HBC. In a nod to the popular idea of the time –democracy– one chamber of government was elected but the other, the Senate, was comprised of those same unelected wealthy family members.

When something goes wrong, the curtain is pulled back to reveal just how bureaucratic corporations are. Just ask world-famous photographer Gary Fong who lives in Los Angles but had a cabin near Kelowna. Earlier this year his cabin burned down yet his hydro bills actually gone up. This month he received one for $4,500 for the billing period between May 19 to July 17.

“The house isn’t even there so it defies any type of reasoning.” Fong told InfoTel News. He’s tried to complain to the hydro utility, Fortis, but they tell him (get this) to pay or they’ll cut off his power.

Bureaucracies are alive and well; just don’t mention them by name. Instead, let’s use bright, empty terms like “vision,” “stakeholders,” and “excellence” to describe the way public and private bureaucracies operate.