Former B.C. Premier Mike Harcourt poses for a photo at the Fairmont Empress on Friday, May 25, 2018. Harcourt forecasts a gold rush, boom and bust period, over next year or two in the medicinal marijuana industry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dirk Meissner

Former B.C. premier says pot industry about to enter Wild West

Mike Harcourt says Canada is about to enter a new gold rush with many dreaming of striking it rich

Canada is about to enter a new gold rush with many dreaming of striking it rich in the marijuana industry, says former British Columbia premier Mike Harcourt, who has staked his own claim in a medicinal marijuana company.

But Harcourt said Friday there will be plenty of losers during the rush as qualified and unqualified entrepreneurs search for marijuana wealth.

Harcourt, 75, invoked the images of past gold-fever eras during a keynote address about marijuana therapy at the annual B.C. Pharmacy Association gathering in Victoria. He mentioned the once thriving B.C. gold-boom town of Barkerville and the Klondike gold rush that sent thousands of people to Yukon during the 1890s.

“We’re in for a wild ride for the next couple of years,” said Harcourt. “The shakedown is going to happen. There’s going to be winners and losers.”

Harcourt said professional groups like pharmacists, who have expertise in dispensing quality products, will be in the forefront of the marijuana industry once recreational pot use becomes legal.

“The issue of assuring quality control, every time, is going to be the key,” he said. “The key people in this industry are going to have to really lead the charge.”

But Harcourt said the industry can’t ignore the reality that it will be competing with organized crime groups that have long-standing black market links to marijuana. He said cannabis is believed to be the largest agricultural crop in B.C., valued at $6 billion annually.

“That’s not going to go away quickly or easily,” said Harcourt.

In a 2016 report the Cannabis Growers of Canada put the annual value of marijuana sales in B.C. at about $4 billion on the low end and up to $7 billion on the high end. A 2004 Fraser Institute report estimated the value of B.C.’s annual marijuana crop at $7.1 billion.

The former premier said he has become a backer of medicinal marijuana and is the board chairman at True Leaf Medicine Inc., located in B.C.’s north Okanagan. The company is building an indoor marijuana growing warehouse and research facility that covers more than 2,300 square metres.

“We’re going to develop medicinal cannabis products as scientifically as possible,” Harcourt said. “Getting high is not our focus. It’s get well.”

Medicinal marijuana can be used for treatment of pain, anxiety and Crohn’s disease, he said. Harcourt said he plans to volunteer for tests of the medicinal marijuana products developed by the company.

In 2002, Harcourt broke his neck in a six-metre fall off the deck at his Pender Island cottage. He went through a lengthy recovery, and still has some paralysis. While Harcourt regained much of his mobility, he continues to walk with a cane.

“I’m going to try and use medicinal cannabis and make myself a guinea pig in our own company to deal with pain management,” he said in an interview.

“I think it will help with the paralysis and the stiffness in my hamstrings and around my gut, and some of the stiffness in my extremities from the paralysis in my fingers and the bottom of my feet and my toes.”

Harcourt was the mayor of Vancouver for six years before moving to provincial politics and served as premier from 1991 to 1996.

He is not the only former politician to support the marijuana industry. Former B.C. health minister Terry Lake and federal cabinet minister Julian Fantino, a one-time Toronto police chief, are now involved with medical marijuana companies.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Grim situation in coming year for northwest, B.C. fisheries

Annual post-season review in Prince Rupert informs DFO on how to manage 2019 fishing season

Another windstorm expected Monday, causing ferry delay

With another windstorm expected to hit Haida Gwaii on Monday afternoon, BC… Continue reading

Jason Alsop, Gaagwiis, elected Haida Nation president

Jason Alsop, Gaagwiis, is the newly elected president of the Council of… Continue reading

On the Wing: Small birds and berries

By Margo Hearne Into the chill. The Christmas Bird Counts will be… Continue reading

Saturday storm to hit Haida Gwaii with 80 to 100 km/h winds

A strong southeast storm is expected to hit coastal areas of Haida… Continue reading

VIDEO: Close encounter with a whale near Canada-U.S border

Ron Gillies had his camera ready when a whale appeared Dec. 7

B.C. judge grants $10M bail for Huawei executive wanted by U.S.

Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport

Famous giant tortoise DNA may hold fountain of youth: UCBO

After Lonesome George’s death he still provides clues to longer life

Oogie Boogie, Sandy Claws and coffin sleigh part of B.C. couple’s holiday display

Chilliwack couple decorates their house for the holidays using Nightmare Before Christmas theme

First Nation sues Alberta, says oilsands project threatens sacred site

Prosper Petroleum’s $440-million, 10,000-barrel-a-day plans have been vigorously opposed by Fort McKay

North Okanagan site of first RCMP naloxone test project

Free kits, training to be provided to high-risk individuals who spend time in cell blocks

1 arrested after bizarre incident at U.S.-B.C. border involving bags of meth, car crash

Man arrested after ruckus in Sumas and Abbotsford on Thursday night

More B.C. Indigenous students graduating high school: report

70% of Indigenous students graduated, compared to 86% across all B.C. students

2 facing animal cruelty charges after emaciated dog found in B.C.

Amy Hui-Yu Lin and Glenn Mislang have been charged with causing an animal to continue to be in distress

Most Read