A B.C. firm says the contract was made to put federal money into a
depressed area

The award of a $5.75 million contract to grow medical marijuana was
politically motivated and designed to pour money into an area with a high
level of unemployment, according to a complaint filed against the federal
government by a British Columbia company.

The contract to produce research-grade cannabis for Health Canada was
awarded last December to Prairie Plant Systems, making the Saskatoon-based
company the first legally sanctioned marijuana company in the country. The
pot it produces will be used for clinical trials into use in treating
illness.

But a competing firm says the government added stringent financial
requirements to the tendering process to ensure it went to Prairie Plant
Systems.

Brian Taylor, CEO of the B.C.- based Cannabis Research Institute, has filed
a complaint with the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, which rules on
disputes over the tendering of federal government contracts. In it, he
claims that the award was "politically motivated" by a concern for the high
levels of unemployment in Flin Flon, Man., where Prairie Plant Systems
intends to locate its marijuana farm.

The complaint alleges that the federal government "worked with this
company, before and during the bid process, to ensure that PPs was able to
comply with the mandatory financial requirements."

Taylor's company was one of the firms knocked out of the bidding process
after the government rewrote the contract specifications to require a
$1-million performance bond.

The complaint to the CITT contends that the bond requirement discriminated
against smaller companies unable to secure large financing and is illegal
under the NAFTA provisions that concern government tendering.

Taylor, who is also leader of B.C.'s provincial Marijuana party, says the
bond requirement was added after Health Minister Allan Rock began receiving
unsolicited packages of pot from home-growers who had seen media reports
about the government's search for a supplier.

The CITT rejected Taylor's complaint last month, mostly over technical and
jurisdictional issues, but he has refiled his complaint and asked the
tribunal to reconsider. He has not yet received a response. Neither
Health Canada nor Public Works and Services Canada, which tendered the
contract, would comment on the case before the CITT.


Newshawk: Herb
Pubdate: February 13, 2001
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Page A3
Contact: sunletters@pacpress.southam.ca
Address: 200 Granville Street, Ste.#1, Vancouver BC V6C 3N3
Fax: (604) 605-2323
Website: http://www.vancouversun.com/
Author: Glen McGregor