Calgary Cannabis Club’s $6K donation in memory of member snubbed by cancer centre

Members of the Calgary Cannabis Club say a $6,000 donation to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in memory of one of its members was turned down, all because of the word cannabis in the group’s name.

The group tried to make the donation in memory of Rick Beaver, a well-known activist and member of the city’s cannabis community.

Beaver passed away in December 2018 after being treated for cancer at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, using cannabis inside the centre as part of his treatment. Beaver was well known for video blogging about life and his illness via Facebook.

But the Alberta Cancer Foundation, who handle donations for the cancer centre, refused to accept the money the club’s members raised through auctions and events to honour Beaver.

“They didn’t know how to deal with it,” said cannabis club member Cynthia Wong.

“Then they contacted me on Friday and refused our money because of cannabis being in our name. It was a cash donation of $6,000 in Rick’s name.”

Rick Beaver was a longtime Calgary Cannabis Club member and activist. He was well known thanks to Facebook videos he made documenting his daily life. He was known for his positivity even in the face of cancer, often ending his videos with the line: “Have a great day, I know I will.” (Calgary Cannabis Club)

“They would not accept the funds. I felt hurt and that we were being discriminated against for being a cannabis club,” said Wong.

The club started as a community of medical users which now also welcomes recreational users following legalization last year.

“It was a shock, especially from a cancer centre where cannabis is used as a medicine to help with pain and not being able to eat after chemo and stuff like that,” she said.

Rick Beaver was a cannabis user and even used cannabis in different forms to help him through his final weeks and days inside the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.

“We felt it was an honourable thing to do for one of our members that had passed and succumbed to cancer, to donate to the place that he’d been treated,” said Calgary Cannabis Club member Pat Parsons.

Pat Parsons with the Calgary Cannabis Club says they were just trying to honour member Rick Beaver in a way he would have wanted through donations. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

Parsons says Beaver had spoken highly of the staff and his treatment at Tom Baker.

“Rick was allowed to bring cannabis into the Tom Baker and continue his medication while going through chemotherapy. Cannabis was actually included on his medical charts and he was quite proud of the fact he was helping to break new ground by bringing cannabis into the clinic itself,” said Parsons.

Parsons says one option for the money could be using it to help other patients to set up their own medical cannabis grows. The group is also looking to other organizations that could benefit from the $6,000, including the Alberta Cancer Society or the Calgary Humane Society.

“We definitely have some other options on the table,” said Parsons.

A radiation vault at the existing Tom Baker Cancer Centre used to treat cancer patients. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

The Alberta Cancer Foundation says it was caught off-guard by the offer, saying it isn’t currently prepared to deal with cannabis-related donations.

“We appreciate the generosity of this group and any group that wants to raise money for Albertans facing cancer but for us it’s a matter of timing more than anything else,” said the Phoebe Dey, VP of communications and marketing with the foundation.

“We’re just in the process of having these conversations with our partners at Alberta Health Services and other stakeholders and looking at other jurisdictions to see what they’re doing. We’re just playing a little bit of catch up,” she said.

In a statement Alberta Health Services said:

“Alberta Health Services is engaging with health leaders from across Canada, including Health Canada, and in Alberta, to develop a long-term perspective on cannabis philanthropy. AHS does not direct what kind of gifts foundations may or may not accept. Until the engagement is complete and a longer-term perspective on cannabis philanthropy has been determined, AHS will defer accepting any donations from the cannabis sector. AHS will update its foundation partners about progress of the engagement throughout 2019, and will also provide materials to support board discussions and decision-making related to cannabis.”

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Sherwood Park

Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area.[7] It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary,[8] generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road).[9] Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.[9]

Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016,[6] Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.


Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.

The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton.[8] The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.

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