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

Ucluelet fears orca protection could shut down fisheries

“I beg you to start a process to put a stick in the wheels and slow these people down.”

Ucluelet mayor thanks team at last meeting

Dianne St. Jacques is not running for re-election this month.

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

10 things still illegal in the new age of recreational cannabis

Pot is legal – but there are still a lot of rules, and breaking some could leave you in jail

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Mellow opening to B.C.’s only legal pot shop

About five people lined up early for the opening of the BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops.

Earth still moving in Old Fort, B.C., but not above homes: geologists

Transportation Ministry crews are ready to start work on the Old Fort road

Around the BCHL: Youth trumps experience for Chilliwack and Salmon Arm

Around the BCHL is a look at goings-on in the BCHL and the junior A world.

GoByBike challenge launched in Ucluelet

Participants get a chance to win a cycle tour in Sicily, Italy.

Proportional representation grows government, B.C. study finds

Spending, deficits higher in countries where voting system used

Black market will thrive until small pot growers and sellers included: advocates

Advocates say the black market will continue to thrive until small retail shops and craft growers are included in the regime.

Goodbye cable, hello Netflix: 1/3 of Canadians cut the cord

Just under half of households no longer have a landline phone

‘Some baloney’ in assertion Canada’s pension fund has highest ethical standards

The Canadian Press Baloney Meter is a dispassionate examination of political statements culminating in a ranking of accuracy on a scale of “no baloney” to “full of baloney”.

In Mexico Beach after Hurricane Michael, some coming home find no home

State emergency management officials said some 124,500 customers across the Panhandle were still without power Wednesday morning and 1,157 remained in shelters.

Most Read