Saturday, April 18, 2015


This article, written by Jack Kaskey for Bloomberg, was re-printed in the business section of today's Vancouver Sun.
Mr. Hagedorn, the CEO of Miracle-Gro, has children and is supportive of hospitals and other good deeds in this hood. But when it comes to the billions he might take home on pot, he says he must be "agnostic," as if a non-belief isn't itself a belief. I guess his morals stop at the ATM.

Growing up on New York’s Long Island, Jim Hagedorn would watch TV and see reports of marijuana busts. In the background, he’d sometimes spot bags of Miracle-Gro, the garden fertilizer invented by his father, Horace.

That recollection is particularly apt as the younger Hagedorn, now 59, considers plans for the company his father helped found, Scotts Miracle-Gro Co., the world’s largest maker of lawn-care products. This month, Scotts bought a leading supplier of hydroponics, a technology that allows indoor cultivation of everything from tomatoes to pot without soil.

In the future, Hagedorn said, he plans more acquisitions in the hydroponics field, potentially building a business that can generate revenue of $1 billion-plus a year as more U.S. states legalize recreational and medicinal use of marijuana.

“We want to take these high-growth businesses, consolidate the space and kind of legitimize it, without changing it,” said Hagedorn, a former F-16 fighter pilot who has been chief executive officer at Scotts since 2001. “These could be important businesses in America.”

Revenue growth in hydroponics is twice the average in the lawn and garden industry, he said in a telephone interview, with wider margins and year-round demand.

The timing may also be right for getting into pot.

Four states have legalized recreational use so far and 13 others may vote next year on whether to join them, according to Viridian Capital & Research, a marijuana-focused investment firm. Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky last month introduced a bill to end the federal ban on medicinal use, four weeks before announcing his presidential candidacy.

Psychological Dangers

If the momentum behind legalization keeps up, the prize for Scotts and other legit companies could be immense. While the U.S. has $2.5 billion of legal pot sales a year, illegal sales are as much as $60 billion, according to Viridian. That implies a potential market worth more than 20 times Scotts’ total revenues last year.

“Scotts can find themselves having the biggest growth they’ve experienced in decades coming from the nascent home-grow industry,” said Leslie Bocskor, a legalization advocate and the managing partner at Electrum Partners, a Las Vegas-based advisory firm focused on the legal cannabis industry. “It’s a very smart play.”

Cannabis is classified by the federal government as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it’s considered among the most dangerous psychologically and physically, along with LSD and ecstasy. Hagedorn says the hydroponics business is strongest where state pot laws are the most favorable -- California, Washington, Colorado and Oregon.

Tread Lightly

Hagedorn knows he needs to tread lightly. The pot industry is still comprised largely of small, independent players. They’re the kind of people naturally distrustful of large corporations such as Scotts.
“Do we need to be the big giant making a lot of noise in the space when we are just becoming part of the family?” Hagedorn said. “I think the answer is, quiet is good.”

Scotts said April 2 it bought closely held General Hydroponics Inc., which sells nutrients used in hydroponics, and a separate soil company for a combined $130 million.

The deal is probably the largest takeover the pot industry has seen so far, according to Electrum’s Bocskor. It was the biggest acquisition in 16 years for Scotts, whose stock has gained 10 percent over the past year. The Standard and Poor’s Midcap Materials Index is up 1.2 percent in the period.

Hydroponic Gardens

Scotts made its first foray into hydroponics in 2013 via a partnership with AeroGrow International Inc., which sells compact growing systems for home gardeners. Scotts later bought a stake in the small company.

General Hydroponics, which has about $40 million of sales, was founded almost four decades ago by Laurence Brooke. A hydroponics pioneer, he still sees the technology primarily as a tool to feed the world rather than a way to grow pot away from the gaze of law enforcement.

“The people who wanted to grow cannabis went to our technology because it is second to none,” Brooke said in an interview.

Hagedorn is also keen to point out that hydroponics is about more than marijuana. Much of the demand is from young, city dwellers who are setting up small hydroponic gardens to grow fresh, pesticide-free vegetables and herbs for their families, he said.

“To some extent you have to be agnostic about how people use the product,” Hagedorn said.
If the legalization movement stalls, Scotts can always fall back on the kind of customer satisfied with using hydroponics to cultivate lettuce, herbs and other produce, said Michael Swartz, an analyst at Viridian Capital.

“The downside is mitigated in the way this product is used for growing other things,” he said. “But the potential is high as the cannabis market loosens.”

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


We have a new DPNC Member who lives in Toronto and, as a young man interested in addictions issues, is putting himself on a steep learning curve by investigating people and places involved in addictions. 

His name is Amir Parekh.

Please read this excellent brief report. and, if you feel so inclined, congratulate him for his observations.

Business, Not an Addiction treatment Center

On a Sunday afternoon, on March 29, 2015, I took the liberty to explore a methadone clinic. A quick Google search pulled up ACT methadone clinic. I headed east on Bloor street to 1288 Danforth Ave. The street was not busy when I arrived at the clinic. It was not hard to miss. “Now Accepting patients”, “No waiting list” caught my attention almost immediately as I drove past it.  

I walked in to explore the atmosphere of a methadone clinic. To my surprise, it was a barren and blank 100 sq. ft space with 9 chairs. From the moment I walked in I had a feeling of being in a business, not an addiction treatment facility. There were no brochures, posters, reading materials, or counselors readily available. The addict/customers were lined up at the window and business was booming. I waited in the waiting area for 15 minutes listening to what people were saying and doing. Most were impatiently waiting for their fix. After not being greeted and seeing no clear instructions I walked up to the pharmacy counter and explained to the pharmacist  “I am a student, doing some research and wanted to take 5 minutes of your time to discuss what you are doing here”. “Go to the other window” the man expressed, as he was not interested in speaking with me. 

The second window had a receptionist who was not very helpful, and was bitter in attitude.  I explained to her the purpose of my visit and she requested that I receive ‘written consent’ from everyone in the clinic, before we could discuss the clinic. As this was clearly not required, I kept digging by asking very general questions, until she got frustrated and called over a manager. The regional manager, who has had no addiction counseling experience or training, explained the 2.5 year cycle that is prescribed to addicts. They start with supervised dosage in the clinics, and as time lapses the addict is able to take their medicine home. The concentration of the dosage is lowered with time and regular urinal tests are performed to monitor the progress of the treatment. What’s unique about ACT methadone clinic? Well, it cycles its patients of methadone clinic in comparison to other methadone clinic which keep their patients on methadone for life which can be a costly endeavor. “Most of the information is available on the website” ended the brief interview.

Most addiction treatment services such as Alpha House or Narcotics Anonymous rave about their success and foster a very busy, open, loving and caring environment. Everyone is welcome and every one could and should share. This is meant for the addicts to not only replace their addiction with meaningful activities but to face their demons that lead them to the dark path of addiction in the first place.  This translates into an addict developing core strengths, a strong foundation and a very deep and meaningful support structure. In the few interviews I have conducted with addicts, one theme is a constant. “Okay. I stopped doing drugs, Now What?” The “Now what” can be the answer between relapse leading to irrational behavior, criminal in bulk, or a clean, sober and productive life. 

A study conducted to analyze costs for patient clinic visits, laboratory test for urine toxicology screening and methadone scripts for 9479 patients in Ontario yielded the following results. The data set represented information from January 1, 2003 to December 31, 2009."There were 6,425,937 patient-days of treatment and the total cost of all treatment-related services was approximately $99,491,000. The total cost was comprised of physician billing (9.8%), pharmacy costs (39.8%), methadone (3.8%), and performing urine toxicology screens (46.7%). The average cost per day in treatment was $15.48, corresponding to $5651 per year if patients were to remain in treatment continuously.”[1] As of 2009 it cost $5651 per year for an addict to be on methadone, but it is estimated to be at $8476 per year, a 50% increase, as of 2015. In essence a good (Non-Lifer) methadone clinic that plans to “rehabilitate” an addict in Ontario provides a treatment plan that costs $21,190 to the tax payers and takes 2.5 years. 

In conclusion, though the government believes methadone clinics to be an effective route to heal addiction, there simply is no foundation or support that these programs provide thus making the results of these programs temporary at the very best. Mostly, if addicts don’t relapse they will likely be addicted to methadone just like any other drug they were previously addicted to.  These clinics lack oversight, control and regulation. The negative impact of methadone clinics is well documented and this is a going concern for the addicts and society in general. Our precious tax dollars ought to be allocated to programs and initiatives that are proven to work, instead of experimenting with programs such as Methadone clinics that are designed to make addicts comfortable and are based on ideologies instead of an evidence based approach which requires hard work, Love and Discipline.

[1] S. Zaric, G., W. Brennan, A., Varenbut, M., & M. Daiter, J. (2012, July 11). The cost of providing methadone maintenance treatment in Ontario, Canada. Retrieved April 14, 2015, from

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Help, not handcuffs: Former B.C. jail converted to rehab centre

 Jon Woodward Jon Woodward, CTV News, Reporter

Published Saturday, April 11, 2015 5:02PM PDT
Last Updated Saturday, April 11, 2015 7:25PM PDT 



A former jail in B.C.’s interior has been converted into a drug rehab centre to treat criminals from the Lower Mainland.

The provincial and federal governments spent $620,000 to convert cells to bunkhouses and classrooms, in the name of curing the region’s most prolific offenders of the addiction that often drives their crimes.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to see some of these individuals who have been in and out of jail their whole life and turn their life around, it’s a great thing,” said former RCMP Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass.

Bass is on the board of the VisionQuest Recovery Society, which will operate the facility in Logan Lake, B.C., about 350 km northeast of Vancouver.

The camp used to house prisoners, and now will have space for 50 men with mental health problems and addictions with the idea of keeping them out of jail.

VisionQuest operates several facilities in the Lower Mainland. Operators said prolific offenders in Vancouver are often stealing cars or committing other crimes in order to feed their drug habits, and if the addiction can be treated, the motivation to commit crime disappears.

“We’re giving them the tools to get out of the system,” said VisionQuest Executive Director Jim O’Rourke.

That’s what happened to Rick Edwards.

“About 6 years ago I got myself messed up with drugs, a couple B&Es and I got court-ordered to VisionQuest,” said Edwards.

“I finished the program, and slowly climbed my way up,” he said, adding he’s now the assistant director of VisionQuest.

The facility will be called “VQ - The Lake” and will be part of the plan to reduce crime in Metro Vancouver, said Burnaby RCMP Staff Sergeant Major John Buis.

“Our job is not to put people in jail, our job is to keep people safe,”Buis said. “If we can do that through a program of recovery, everybody wins.”

Housing Minister Rich Coleman said he hopes the facility will make a difference.

“This is about having a heart and caring about humanity and not putting them in a box. It’s about putting them somewhere where they can succeed,” Coleman said.

Friday, April 3, 2015


Expanding supervised injections draws criticism

By Ada Slivinski, QMI Agency Vancouver
Vancouver's Insite is located on Hastings Street. (FILE PHOTO, 24 HOURS)
Vancouver's Insite is located on Hastings Street. (FILE PHOTO, 24 HOURS)
Vancouver Coastal Health’s strategy to bring supervised injection services to community health centres across the city has drawn criticism from one of the most prominent recovery experts in Vancouver.
“This strategy is, in my opinion, monstrous,” said David Berner, the executive director of the Drug Prevention Network of Canada. “It’s based on a belief system that’s completely false,” he said, explaining that harm reduction assumes “addicts are addicts for life and they must be kept comfortable.”
He said that treatment focused on recovery helps people overcome the challenge of addiction and get back to living their life.

“I’ve helped thousands of addicts get clean and sober. I can’t imagine handing an addict a needle,” said Berner.

A long-time critic of harm reduction, Berner said that helping addicts use is “a confirmation of (their) world-view that (they) don’t deserve a good life.”

He likened supervised injections to condoning other destructive behaviours.

“If you knew that your daughter was cutting herself, would you spend 20 minutes sterilizing her razor blades?”

In their Downtown Eastside Second Generation Health Strategy, VCH outlines a goal to “(pursue) the development of supervised injection capacity in community health centres and other key service locations across the DTES and Vancouver.”

They also plan to increase the operating hours of Insite, opening “earlier in the day for this high demand period.”

Berner said governments need to put more money towards recovery to help people overcome addictions.
“There’s a common mantra in this business: the rich get treatment, the poor get methadone,” he said.

Proponents of harm reduction say their approach works.

“The purpose of harm reduction is to reduce harm while connecting you to other health care,” said Anna Marie D’Angelo, VCH media spokesperson.

Berner said the B.C. government can learn from the federal government in Ottawa, which is funding recovery programs. Ottawa passed Bill C-2 - the Respect for Communities Act - which makes more stringent regulations for the establishment of other stand-alone supervised-injection facilities like Insite.