An attempt to make a financial donation to honour a recently departed member of a local cannabis advocacy group has been rejected and will not benefit the cancer centre where he received his treatment.

To pay tribute to the life of 65-year-old Rick Beaver who died in November of esophageal cancer, his fellow members in the Calgary Cannabis Club held a fundraiser in December and collected funds to donate on Beaver’s behalf.

“The amount of people he reached was phenomenal,” said Colin Scott, chairman of the Calgary Cannabis Club board and a friend of Rick’s for nearly two years.  “It was really sad to see him go.”

“When we heard of Rick’s passing we felt we needed to do something as a community,” said Gordon Hayes, the club’s director of events and fundraising. “We needed to provide a memorial service (to) allow our members a chance to grieve for Rick, and it also provided us with a tremendous fundraising opportunity.”

After raising $6,000, the group approached the Alberta Cancer Foundation with their plans to donate the funds to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre on behalf of the ‘strong advocate for medical marijuana’ but were informed that the donation would not be accepted due to the club’s ties to cannabis.

“I was shocked,” recalled Hayes. “These places are always talking about how they’re short on funding and they need these sort of things. To offer that sort of money and to be refused on the basis of a word in our company’s name is ridiculous.”

Scott says he was angered by the rejection of the donation. “This is $6,000 out of a community’s pocket that we’re trying to donate to you guys and you guys don’t want it? That makes no sense to me.”

Theresa Radwell, Alberta Cancer Foundation’s vice-president of program investment, says the cannabis club’s donation presented unique challenges given the recent legalization of marijuana and the fact the group wanted to have an event where the donation was presented to the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.

“At this point in time, the rules surrounding the change in legislation and how we can accept donations and what kind of donations we can accept are unclear,” explained Radwell. “As an organization, we are, with some urgency, looking into what those rules are and how that governs so we are in a better situation when an organization such as this comes forward.”

“We really appreciate the opportunity to work with organizations like this and we’re sorry that we didn’t have a policy clearly in place. “

Calgary Cannabis Club officials says they continue to hold the funds they collected and they are exploring other opportunities to donate the money on Rick’s behalf.

With files from CTV’s Brenna Rose