He’s worked as a criminal defence lawyer, the mayor of Vancouver, and the premier of British Columbia. He served on the police board and, as an MLA, represented the Downtown Eastside in the mid-1990s as the community struggled with skyrocketing drug-overdose rates.
Those are all roles that Mike Harcourt says make him uniquely qualified for his new job as chairperson of True Leaf Medicine Inc., a medicinal cannabis company based in Lumby, B.C.
In a telephone interview, Harcourt told the Straight that while he’s never used medicinal marijuana himself, his title with True Leaf won’t be a token one.
“It’s going to be a very hands-on role,” he said.
Harcourt explained that his priority will be working to see True Leaf brings standardized practices to an area of medicine relatively new to Canada.
“There is a need for a very clear approach on dosages,” he said. “A lot of times, you’re getting far too high a dosage or you’re not getting the right strain. And so I think there needs to be some order brought to that whole area.”
That’s why True Leaf will be focusing on research and development, Harcourt said, with the goal of providing information to medical practitioners.
He conceded that he was initially skeptical when approached for the position by True Leaf CEO Darcy Bomford. But Harcourt said he reviewed the scientific literature on cannabis as medicine and was quickly won over.
He also noted that different cultures around the world have used cannabis for medicinal purposes for at least as long as 5,000 years.
“It’s a natural plant that many civilizations have used, and used very successfully,” Harcourt said.
True Leaf doesn’t appear on the federal government’s list of authorized producers for medicinal marijuana. According to a True Leaf media release, the company has applied for a license to grow and distribute cannabis under the Conservatives' new Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR).
Harcourt is the second high-profile British Columbian formerly involved in politics and law enforcement to join Canada’s growing medicinal marijuana industry.
Earlier this month, former B.C. solicitor general Kash Heed—who once led the Vancouver Police Department’s drug squad—announced that he would be working as a consultant to marijuana growers that operate under the MMPR.