Anne McLellan is engaged by the law firm Bennett Jones LLP, that describes itself as a ‘very entrepreneurial law firm’ that wants to be the ‘go to’ law firm for licensed producers (LPs) of marijuana in Canada.
This is what should disqualify McLellan for the appearance of a conflict of interest. But then Justin Trudeau was first introduced to “legalization” by Tweed Marijuana licensed producer cofounder Chuck Rifici, who has gotten rich as a consequence of his investment in his LP, and who has been agitating for all competing dispensaries and cannabis sellers to be arrested and shut down. Rifici is also the chief financial officer of the Liberal Party of Canada. McLellan’s place of employment openly seeks licensed providers to represent while she maintains impartiality on this task force.
And it’s not just the chairperson of the Task Force who is facing a conflict of interest. A long list of Liberal Party insiders and government officials connected to the cannabis economy has been circulating around social media:
- Chuck Rifici, is currently the CFO of the Liberal Party of Canada. – founder and former CEO of Tweed
- Mark Zekulin, CEO of Tweed – former senior adviser to former Ontario finance minister Dwight Duncan
- Norman Inkster, Independent Director at Mettrum – former head of the RCMP
- Dr. Joshua Tepper, Independent Director at Mettrum – formerly Assistant Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Health , Senior Medical Officer for Health Canada,
- Tom Shipley, Director of Quality Assurance, Tweed – formerly worked on toxicology research, while at Health Canada,
- Mike Harcourt, Chairman of True Leaf Medicine Inc – former B.C. Premier
- Kash Heed, strategic consultant with National Green BioMed – Former B.C. Solicitor General and former West Vancouver police chief
- Herb Dhaliwal, Chairman, National Green BioMed – former Vancouver MP and federal cabinet minister.
- Neil Belot, Board of Directors for Aurora – was a public servant in several ministries within the Ontario government
- Brian Wagner, Company founder and CEO of NHP Consulting (consults for prospective LP’s) – Brian was invited to play a strong role in Health Canada’s Program Advisory Committee
- Tim Humberstone, ABcann Director / Senior Person in Charge – former twenty year member of the RCMP included roles in Municipal/Federal Drug Enforcement and with the Joint Forces Organized Crime Agency. Tim has also received extensive training by the RCMP in providing expert court opinion in the fields of cannabis trafficking and production techniques.
- Ivan Vrana, founder of Aslan Ross Consulting / speaker mmpr summit – Previously Mr. Vrána worked for the Federal Government for over 15 years. He worked at the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board, Finance Canada and in various senior policy positions at Health Canada. At Health Canada he was in charge of the team that developed the policy rationale which led to the implementation of the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations. Mr. Vrána is also a regular Lecturer at both Carleton and Concordia universities and teaches a course that examines the internal communication tools governments use to development and implement public policy.
- Sandy Pratt, Chief Financial Officer, Emerald Health – Worked at Deloitte (auditing firm involved in the senate scandal), Vice President of Business Development and Executive Financial Officer of the Royal British Columbia Museum, a Crown corporation.
- Shane Morris, VP, Scientific Affairs and Stakeholder Relations Hydropothecary CEO (now Canadian Cannabis Corp.) – Since 2000 Shane has been in a range of leadership roles within the Federal Government, from Treasury Board of Canada’s senior advisor (Cabinet Operations) on regulatory affairs to director of policy leadership and Reporting for Resources Canada’s major projects management office.
- George Smitherman, THC BioMed – former Ontario Liberal Deputy Premier with more than 30 years in public policy fields at the Municipal, Provincial and Federal Level, where roles as Senior Advisor, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure and Ontario’s Minister of Health were held.
- Jake Ryan, Director of Security: Tilray – former RCMP Intelligence Officer and federal criminal investigator overseeing all aspects of Tilray’s security protocols and operations.
- Ernie Eves, Chairman, Timeless Herbal Care, a Jamaican medical marijuana company – former Progressive Conservative premier of Ontario
- Kim Derry, a promoter of marijuana facility THC Meds Ontario Inc. – Deputy chief of the Toronto Police Service under Mr. Blair.
- John Reynolds, advisor to Vodis Innovative Pharmaceuticals Inc – former MP with the Progressive Conservative, Reform and Canadian Alliance parties
- Senator Larry Campbell, advisor to Vodis Innovative Pharmaceuticals Inc. – former Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer and Vancouver mayor. And sitting Senator.
- Barry Daniel, Wildflower’s head of security – Former Abbotsford police chief.
- Cam Battley, Aurora Senior Vice President, Communications and Medical Affairs – Former Legislative Assistant to the Canadian Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, where he was responsible for developing legislation and steering it through the House of Commons, as well as negotiating with Opposition parties and stakeholder groups.
- John Turner, medicinal marijuana applicant in Ontario (With Kash Heed) – Former Prime Minister of Canada.
Even police officers have been getting into the game.
These establishment-type operations never seem to get raided, though – regardless of public harm.
LORI CULBERT, VANCOUVER SUN 08.22.2015
Heed, who is also involved with a second medicinal marijuana applicant in Ontario with prime minister John Turner, thinks the future is bright for applicants with good people and good business plans.
Public servants and former politicians are buying into legal pot, raising concerns of cronyism and conflict of interest
Apr 13, 2017
Former prime minister John Turner joined the board of a company called Muileboom Organics in 2014 as it was poised to become a major commercial enterprise in Ontario, although he later backed out due to public outcry against the operation.
Updated: August 31, 2017
A medical marijuana company in Gatineau has snagged a high-profile former politician to work for its growing operation.
Terry Lake, who until a few months ago was B.C.’s Health Minister, will take a job as vice-president at Hydropothecary Corp., the company announced Thursday.
Lake served eight years in the B.C. legislature, and was health minister in the Liberal government between 2013 and the spring of 2017.
Cheol Joon Baek
The dry room at licensed medical marijuana producer Mettrum’s Bowmanville facilities
Former CFO of the Liberal Party of Canada and a founder and former CEO of Canopy Growth Corp. and Tweed Marijuana Inc., the country’s largest licensed producer. Made a killing when Canopy took over Tweed. He’s reportedly still a shareholder. Currently, CEO at Nesta Holding Company, “the premiere partner for companies within the cannabis space.”
Potential conflict of interest As the former overseer of the finances of the federal Liberal Party, Rifici’s connections to money bags contributors in the party run far and deep. No doubt he’s turning a few of them on to the big bucks to be made in the business of weed.
President of Canopy Growth (also the company’s legal counsel) and former senior adviser to ex-Ontario finance minister Dwight Duncan.
Potential conflict of interest Zekulin’s resumé includes a gig as senior policy manager for the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Boasts “high-profile local and international corporate clients” as counsel at the Ottawa-Washington international trade law firm of Cassidy Levy Kent.
Former head of the RCMP and Independent Director at Mettrum Health Corp, which was acquired by Canopy Growth on January 31, 2017.
Potential conflict of interest Cop and corporate connections. Inkster is a member of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. And served as a member of Investment Advisory Committee of Bay Street investment firm Westerkirk Capital Inc.until 2005.
Bill Blair in a previous incarnation as Toronto police chief.
Former Toronto deputy chief.
Potential conflict of interest Lobbied his old boss Bill Blair, the government’s point person on legalization file, on behalf of marijuana facility THC Meds Ontario Inc. earlier this year to “get rid of goons” in the budding industry. Was part of the regime when he was a cop in Toronto that enforced a zero tolerance policy on pot. Also, see George Smitherman below.
Former Minister of Health is an investor and director of licensed producer THC Meds Ontario.
Potential conflict of interest Smitherman has announced he’s re-entering politics and running for Pam McConnell’s city council seat this fall.
Former Ontario PC leader and premier.
Potential conflict of interest Eves has been conspicuous by his absence in news around Timeless Herbal Care, a Jamaican medical marijuana company he joined as chair in 2015 and which has just inked a deal as one of three licencees approved to grow marijuana in Jamaica.
Former Conservative MP, OPP commissioner and Toronto police chief, is pushing pot as executive chair of Aleafia Inc., a Vaughan-based referral clinic. The company recently entered into a $20 million financing agreement with Canabo Medical Inc, Canada’s largest physician led referral-only clinics for medical cannabis.
Potential conflict of interest After spending a career pushing reefer madness – Fantino once likened decriminalizing marijuana to murder – the former Toronto chief says he’s turned over a new leaf. It also just so happens that the director of communications at Canopy, the largest licensed marijuana producer in the country, is also a former underling of Fantino’s at Veterans Affairs.
Former undercover drug officer and RCMP deputy commissioner – and current president and CEO of Aleafia Inc.
Potential conflict of interest Served on the PM’s task force on marijuana. Close relationships in the RCMP with the organized crimes squads (biker, etc..) doing the major grow-op busts.
President of Health Quality Ontario, which guides health policy in the province.
Potential conflict of interest Was listed as an independent advisor to Mettrum Ltd. between 2014 and 2016 while he served as HQO head.
Former Reform and Canadian Alliance MP.
Potential conflict of interest Currently an advisor to Canada and U.S.-based medical and recreational marijuana business Vodis Pharmaceuticals Inc. Says he’s never smoked pot and doesn’t want to, which should tell you all you need to know about why he’s shilling for Big Pharma.
SENATOR LARRY CAMPBELL
Former RCMP officer and Vancouver mayor, independent senator.
Potential conflict of interest An advisor to Vodis. Has declared that’s not a conflict, even though he’s a sitting senator, an we all know how loosey-goosey members of the upper chamber can be about questions of ethics.
Former BC premier and mayor of Vancouver.
Potential conflict of interest Current chair of B.C-based start up True Leaf Medicine Inc. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission recently approved a share offering that will allow the company to crowdfund up to $10 million.
Former Vancouver MP and federal cabinet minister.
Potential conflict of interest Currently chair of NG BioMed. The company donated $1 million to UBC last April to study the therapeutic benefits of pot as it awaits approval of its application to become a licensed producer of medicinal marijuana.
Former BC solicitor general and former chief constable of West Vancouver police department. Headed up drug squad with Vancouver Police Department.
Potential conflict of interest Elected Liberal member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in the 2009. He was forced to resign a year later following an RCMP investigation into unspecified violations of the Elections Act. A consultant for various medpot companies setting up on the Lower B.C. mainland.
Former legislative assistant to Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs back in the early 90s. Former director of communications for Eli Lilly and Company in Canada. The pharmaceutical giant’s U.S. parent developed one of the first marijuana-based drugs approved for nausea and vomiting in cancer patients from chemotherapy.
Potential conflict of interest Recently appointed chief corporate officer for Aurora Cannabis, which just acquired CanniMed Therapeutics Inc. CanniMed is a sister company of the the country’s first licensed medpot producer, Prairie Plant Systems Inc., the government’s sole medical marijuana supplier for 13 years.
Chief business development officer for Aurora Cannabis Inc.
Potential conflict of interest Former public servant in several ministries within the Ontario government.
Former RCMP Intelligence Officer and federal criminal investigator.
Potential conflict of interest Currently director of security for B.C.-based supplier Tilray.
Former Abbotsford police chief.
Potential conflict of interest Current advisor to B.C.-based Wildflower Marijuana Inc.
With files from various published sources.