AHS does not accept marijuana donation in honor of cancer treatment



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The Tom Baker Cancer Clinic is shown at Foothills Hospital, northwest Calgary, on Thursday, March 16, 2017.

Jim Wells / Jim Wells / Postmedia

The Alberta Health Services refusal of a $ 6,000 donation, which welcomes cancer treatment given to one of its most recent members, surprised the cannabis club that offered it.

The Calgary Cannabis Club said they directed the donation to the Tom Baker Cancer Center in honor of the exemplary treatment provided to Rick Beaver, who died of esophageal cancer at age 65 last November.

"He was very impressed with the empathy and compassion he received, so we thought it was obvious to us that the money raised went there," said club council member Patrick Parsons.

"Rick was delirious about how good the staff was."

The money was raised from live and silent auctions at a fundraiser on Dec. 9, one of several charitable efforts made by the club, he said.

But when approached with the donation, AHS officials turned down the money, probably reflecting a continued negative mindset regarding the now legalized drug for both medical and recreational use, Parsons said.

"The stigma is still there – when you're talking about dollars and cents, there's probably the thought that money comes from selling illegal cannabis, but that's not the case here," he said.

"The money was raised in a very thoughtful and legitimate way."

He said that Beaver, who was battling the second cancer crisis when he died, consumed medicinal cannabis in Tom Baker, which gave him more relevance.

"He was one of the first people to use cannabis in the center of the cancer and document it, they had it on his chart," Parsons said.

He said that marijuana helped alleviate Beaver's suffering as he battled cancer.

The ruling medical community in Canada is reluctant to acknowledge the medicinal benefits of marijuana.

"Until they accept the research on good, there is a blockage," Parsons said.

In a statement, AHS said it will not accept cannabis philanthropy until consultations with fundraising foundations and Health Canada on the matter are completed later this year.

"Until the engagement is complete and a long-term perspective on cannabis philanthropy has been determined, AHS will postpone accepting any donation from the cannabis industry," he said.

"AHS will update its foundation partners on the progress of engagement through 2019, and will also provide materials to support council discussions and cannabis-related decision making."

But the AHS said it does not "address the kind of donations that foundations can or will not accept."

Parsons said the money raised could be donated to help medical cannabis users grow their own medicine, or the Calgary Humane Society.

He said the club, which has between 100 and 200 paid members and has a primarily medical focus, has raised funds for society and for charities as shelters for the homeless.

BKaufmann@postmedia.com

on twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

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