The federal government’s action plan for legalizing marijuana has rubbed a local man the wrong way.
“When the current federal government announced the plan to legalize cannabis (marijuana is a derogatory slang name that I will not use) I was cautiously excited,” said BC Bud Rub manufacturer David Faren from Alert Bay.
“A couple of decades ago, Canada set an example for the rest of the world by reforming regulations on the sale and production of natural health products. Vitamins, herbal supplements, and other products sold in health food stores became regulated,” said Faren.
The process used by the government of the time was to set up round table discussions in communities across the country where stakeholders could participate in forming the new legislation.
“The result was a shining example of good legislation that has made Canada a leader in the industry globally,” he said.
Faren, a Calgary native and Master of Education graduate, has been making BC Bud Rub on and off for over 10 years. The salve is composed of all natural ingredients.
Faren has been working diligently to obtain a Natural Product Number (NPN), an eight digit number that appears on all licensed natural health products in Canada, and is issued after Health Canada reviews the product and decides that it is “safe, effective and of high quality” according to the Health Canada website.
He is hoping to have one in February.
Faren explains that having this NPN would be a significant benefit for BC Bud Rub, because it would mean that pharmacists could then legally prescribe the salve to customers.
“I have to remove hemp essential oil, but I can include the separate constituents,” he said.
“This is why I wanted room for input on legalization. Even the industrial hemp plant is still facing prohibition and nobody is talking about changing that with ‘marijuana’, since that isn’t their mandate,” Faren said.
“I just write letters and lobby different departments. The way it looks, recreational cannabis might be legal before some parts of the hemp plant. It’s pretty frustrating.”
BC Bud Rub is currently sold in numerous stores, including Edible Island Whole Food Market in Courtenay, East of Java in Port McNeill, and The ArtLoft in Alert Bay.
BC Bud Rub contains a compound called Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO), a naturally-sourced health ingredient that became legal for inclusion in licensed natural health products in 2011. It is similar to compounds found in garlic and is also widely seen by many as having powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Customers use the rub on ailments including chapped lips and eczema.
With the NPN, Faren is hoping to be able to grow the business and ideally create employment opportunities in Alert Bay.
Faren explains the BC Bud Rub name “gets me in the door sometimes,” but that in some cases, businesses have had issues and don’t want to bring “unwarranted attention.”
However, this is a time of changing attitudes and significant media attention focused on the many people being aided for various ailments through cannabis-related products, and Faren is noticing that the negative attention has been “waning in a big way recently.”
As the owner of a business that manufactures and markets a natural health product that happens to made with currently legal varieties of cannabis, Faren was anxious to see what the future legal environment would look like. More importantly, he was looking forward to participating in the process.
“I am a stakeholder in the industry and it seemed reasonable to expect some form of participation,” he said. “Instead, and this is what I would have expected from the former Harper government, we had a simple online questionnaire and a team of people who could only be described as ‘anti-legalization’.”
Faren says there is no representation from anyone involved in the industry on any level, whether it be people who fought long and hard to bring an end to the “prohibition”; or people who operate federally-licensed cannabis production facilities.
“This omission is not an accident, but it is a mistake. Those who fought for these changes, who are being left out in the cold on this front, are left with the dilemma of choosing to remain defiant by operating black market businesses, or accept defeat in the midst of victory.”
In terms of his own business, Faren believes this process was flawed beyond the expropriation of many people’s collective property and rights.
“The details in the process matter, too. My product uses a little known, but legal, cannabinoid to benefit its users. It would have been valuable to my business to be able to have input in order to bring the orphaned status of this cannabinoid into the legislation,” Faren said.
“Canadian hemp farmers could have benefitted from this input, but the federal government’s desire to shut out anyone who was an existing stakeholder has done no Canadian a service.
(Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau presented himself as someone who believed in open government and making democracy more than just a buzz word we use every four years. Instead, as this process has shown, he has little respect for these values.”
Other findings of the federal task force include:
18 should be the minimum age to buy recreational marijuana, but provinces like B.C. could make it the same as their legal drinking age of 19. Pot tasting lounges should be allowed in retail storefronts.
Retail outlets should be regulated so they aren’t clustered together and to keep an appropriate distance from schools, parks and community centres. Current medical marijuana regulations to remain unchanged for now.
Further study of how to regulate drugged driving, the potential development of a THC limit in the blood for enforcement, and exploration of roadside screening device options.
Tightly regulate advertising and packaging. Pot edibles can’t be packaged to be appealing to children or mimic candy. Apply same current restrictions on public smoking of tobacco to marijuana smoking and vaping