PLANT

Mounties wary of Alberta company’s poppy research

API Labs laying the groundwork to make medicinal opiates such as morphine, codeine and oxycodone.


OTTAWA — The RCMP has voiced concerns to Health Canada about an Alberta company’s plans to cultivate opium poppies over fears the medicinal project could attract drug-peddling criminals.

Lethbridge-based API Labs Inc. says it understands the national police force’s worries, but insists the risk of criminal involvement can be managed with the proper precautions.

An internal RCMP memo reveals the national police force expressed its reservations about API Labs’ activities during a conference call with several other federal agencies in April last year.

It says the RCMP followed up with a letter to a senior Health Canada official outlining the force’s concerns about the possible diversion of opium poppy material to “the illicit market” as well as infiltration by organized crime groups.

The Canadian Press obtained the July 2014 note to the RCMP’s deputy commissioner for federal policing under the Access to Information Act.

API Labs is trying to lay the groundwork for a western Canadian poppy industry that would see harvested plants refined into medicinal opiates – such as morphine, codeine and oxycodone – and the poppy seeds sold to bakeries.

© 2015 The Canadian Press

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