A group calling on Vancouverites to boycott a City Hall public hearing on proposed marijuana-dispensary regulations is an “associate” of a U.S-based group with ties to pharmaceutical-lobbying money.
Pamela McColl, a local antitobacco activist and a “council member” of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada (SAMC), told 24 Hours on June 8 that citizens should disregard the meeting, scheduled to hear public speakers on Wednesday (June 10) at 6 p.m.
“We’re telling everyone not to go,” she told the paper. “It’s a circus and we’re going to let the pot lobby be the main attraction.
“This should not be a public hearing, this is illegal,” she added.
The hearing is scheduled to examine recommended amendments to the city’s zoning and development by-law and two downtown official development plans regarding the regulation of retail dealers of medical marijuana. Dispensary locations will be a major point of discussion.
SAMC—which launched itself in Ottawa in March 2014 with a breakfast for politicians and describes itself as “nonpartisan” and a “not-for-profit Canadian corporation”—is an offshoot of Project SAM USA, a coalition of groups that pushes for anti-cannabis legislation.
That group was cofounded by reformed cocaine and OxyContin addict Patrick Kennedy, son of the late long-time U.S. senator Ted Kennedy. Canadian conservative commentator David Frum is also a member of Project SAM.
Kennedy spoke at an event earlier this year that was hosted by a group called Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America (CADCA), which is against marijuana-policy reform; the event’s sponsor was OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharmaceutical.
Some affiliate organizations of Project SAM have similar ties. CADCA is partially funded by other pharmaceutical companies as well, including opiod makers, according to an investigative article in the July 21-28, 2014, issue of the Nation.
The article examined monetary ties between multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical interests such as Purdue (which has earned $27 billion from OxyContin alone since 1996), Abbott Laboratories (Vicodin), and Irish drug giant Alkermes (Zohydro) and U.S. anti-drug organizations.
McColl, who has also called on B.C. Hydro to cut off power to all medical-marijuana dispensaries, is listed in SAMC’s 2014 inaugural news release as a “SAMC Council Member” along with three MDs. The only person quoted in the release is “Dr. Harold Kalant of the University of Toronto”, a 92-year-old retired professor and noted alcohol researcher.
Interested citizens can speak at the Wednesday (June 10) public hearing by registering at Vancouver City Hall on the hearing day up to 30 minutes before the meeting starts. Call 604-829-4238 for information.