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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Generative Force

It has been 15 days since the raid and the store is still closed. Each day in a small business such as ours is a lifetime. The expenses continue and the cash flow stops. It is a bit like drinking through a straw and the glass is almost empty. The slurping noise is the sound of the bank account drying  up.  There are days when I feel depleted. There are nights that my thoughts are filled with impossibilities. I find that my meditations are frequent, deep and necessary.

When we were seeking financing for the business, I was approached and was offered seed money from a retail drugstore chain. They were very impressed and interested in our concept and offered "no-strings attached" financing, enough to open several stores. They assured us that we would call the shots. 

"Will you let me paint the store a bright pink?" I asked.
"Why would you do that?" was the reply from the company representative. He was confused.
" Well, you say we call the shots. I really, really like pink. Fuschia-bright pink, to be exact." I said. Of course I was joking, but he was still confused by the question.
" I don't think that will fit our corporate guidelines," was the final answer.

We have somehow managed, still independent, not affiliated with any drugstore chains or banners or buying groups. Also, not pink. But: we could be; and that is the difference.

The human body can survive on about 1200 calories a day. Fish, rice, water. The human spirit, that is a little more complicated. Your many letters and emails  provide us all here at Marigold with  the sustenance for our spirit.  They are very much appreciated.

We thank you for caring, we thank you for your support.

When this event started, Gaylene noted that this is merely a different manifestation of our mission. We have all been focused on providing reliable, dependable and complete natural medicine through our practice and our store. We felt that this was taking shape, that we were emerging through the initial phase of growth.

Vis Curatio Intentio (To Heal as Nature Intended) is our motto.

What is happening now a different sort of healing. To heal the rift, to heal the intransigence, to heal the inertia of stuck. To allow the message to spread; to start the generative force that fuels true and lasting change. Maybe this is what this is. Maybe this is just as important. Maybe this is the true mission.

There are many letters from people that are just discovering the current issues  surrounding natural medicine. People who have never heard of us. They are interested, curious, supportive. We appreciate that. We want all  of you to be engaged. This is not just Marigold. This affects health food stores, supermarkets, practitioners, manufacturers, sales reps, growers, bee keepers and many more involved in the production and delivery of natural health products.

Write in with a letter of support,  do at least that. We are collecting these letters and will use these as our tools to affect the change. 

These letters are the arrows of change. Let us have 100,000 arrows. Address the letter to your elected official, as this shift has to come from our leaders.  The leaders have to have the will, just as we have to have the will.

Your MP can be found through your postal code at www.canada.gc.ca. 
The MP for the North Vancouver Island is John Duncan and his email is duncan.j@parl.gc.ca.

Anything that matters is never easy and demands of us three things: commitment, impetus and belief. Commit to writing a letter today. If 80% of the natural supplements disappeared from the shelf today, how will that affect you? Let this be the impetus for your own initiative to learn more, to act with integrity and to care. As in nature, the generative force starts with the smallest seed.

Most importantly, believe this simple truth: the change is you and I.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Acting Without Action: The Art of Falling

On the day of the raid from Health Canada and the College of Pharmacists, there came a point when it became hard to see through the frustration, disappointment, and  simmering anger.

Over time, I had to learn the lessons of falling. Only by  doing so. was it possible to accept the events as part of a greater unfolding. 

Acting without Action

Taking no action is anathema to the extreme sense of urgency. In an immediate crisis, the natural response is to do something; to act upon, to react. The next obvious step to take is not necessarily the best one. The next step might be to step back, allowing one to notice the subtle lay of the grass which may well be the path. But, this takes clarity, concentration and resolve. It requires a stutter: to stop and not do anything .

Take a step back, then another step back, then another. 

When everyone else is saying take action; take no action. Accept inaction as a form of action.

As the inspectors started to act on their mission , it became very hard to watch. They started emptying shelves of products, throwing them into boxes. There was no attempt  to keep jars upright, or use packing material. The bottles of tinctures clang together in protest. ( We don't want to go. Let us stay on the shelf, all in tidy rows!) 

The boxes filled and soon littered the floor of the store. Boxes all in a row, waiting for the pick up. The inspectors had to walk around them as they were too heavy to move when they tried to push them with their feet.The boxes lay there in curvy rows, like the hay bales on a Merville field.  As the inspectors completed filling one box, they then filled up the next. The strapping tape made a loud sound as the boxes were taped shut. Raackk. Raackk.  Another box finished. 

The movements of the inspectors were brisk and methodical. They were working hard. They might as well be baling hay. There were boxes filled with over $5,000 worth of inventory per box. It reminded me of moving day. 

The boxes were loaded into a u-haul truck parked outside. Sad, NPN-less, bales of hay.


I could not stay in the store and watch. It was heart-breaking. The staff and customers had immediately been asked to leave, so I was the only one in the store with the six inspectors and two RCMP officers. My throat was getting dry and my legs felt bloodless. I  decided to go home. I gave them my phone number and told them I would be returning at the end of the day.

It was nice to walk in the sunshine. I walked around the block twice and I felt better. I thought of things that I could do in the middle of the day. Normally, I would not be able to leave the store (as pharmacists are required to be in the premises as long as the store was open). Simply walking around in the sun in the middle of the day was a strange enough experience. I watched people walking down 5th Street. I could easily be one of them,  just going about my list of things to do on a sunny downtown Monday. 

What would be on my list? The first thing that I thought of was to get some guitar strings, as my favorite guitar store was closed on my regular day off. I then realized that I did not have a vehicle. 

I decided to take the bus home and caught the 12:20 No.4. I was pretty proud of myself because:
1. I knew where the bus stop was
2. I had change and I knew how much
3. I got on the right bus

Sitting on the bus, I was thankful for how it goes around and around, and back and loop-de-loop, taking its time to go through all the smaller streets.

It gave me time to fall.

Falling is an art. How to fall involves reducing the action to its basics.

Removing obstructions (you do not want to fall into sharp objects, for sure).
Removing paraphernalia (you do not want to fall with a computer laptop in your bag).
Removing distractions (you do not want to be falling worrying about your expensive linen suit).

While I was in the bus falling, I reduced myself to my very very basic being.

Remove the layer of worry. Everything will work out to its natural conclusion.
Remove the layer of responsibility. Feeling responsible for our staff, I knew that we were blessed with dedicated people who truly believe in what we do at a very deep level.
Remove the layer of doubt. What we do is important. Not only important in terms of improving health, but maybe, a new importance in uncovering the politics of health care.  The truth is healthy.
Remove the layer of pride. There will be people who will  question the events and judge, but it does not change me and it does not change what we do. The sky is still blue after the day is gone.
And when everything was removed, I was left only with my belief in myself. 
And that belief is true and it is intact.
And that belief is all I need.
In the bus, I ended up almost whispering: if I am true to that belief, then this too shall pass.

And then, the most frightening thought that ever happens to every married man:
How to explain this to my wife.

My wife apparently, knows the art of falling just fine. She will get big-upset if the kids leave a plate of lasagna in the  living room. But a raid + seizure + lock-down? She was calm and focused. She actually said these words..."You know, this might be a good thing."

The Three Treasures
The three treasures of the Tao Te Ching are restraint, compassion and love. All actions, to be effective, have to be true to these themes  at all times.

If the fight against intolerance is with anger, any victory is hollow. If our actions are driven by the wrong motives (pick any of the three: ego, greed or vanity) and not by love, then any achievement is temporary. We have to love what we do, we have to be compassionate about  each person we deal with. We have to behave with restraint. If we do, then what we do will be honest and true and lasting.

To act without action means that in the end, the obstacles put in our way makes us stronger and more committed. Water will always find its own way: It may take time, but it will find its own way and the only requirement of me is to get out of the way and be ready to see the answer when it presents itself. 

I can not see through the fog. I wait for it to lift.
I can not see through a dirty window. I wash it first.
I can not see with a headache. I sip a drink of tea.
I can not see with my eyes closed.  I open them.

I shall fall with grace.
I shall wait with restraint.

What awaits is beautiful and perfect.


They left the store at 11:30 PM. We heard movement in the lobby and cars starting. They did not say goodbye. They left through the receiving door and the store was suddenly empty. On the counter was a list of the inventory taken. It was 46 pages long.

Ire and Fire: Progressive Pharmacy Draws Attention

The Most Progressive Pharmacy in Canada 


Marigold Compounding and Natural Pharmacy in Courtenay, BC is the first of its kind. It is one of the most progressive pharmacies in North America as far as the scope and the mode of its operation. It is the true integration of pharmacy, homeopathy, Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine and other modalities at a professional level.

It has been recently caught in the controversy that is affecting the delivery of natural health care and natural products in Canada. As one of the most innovative pharmacies in Canada, it has drawn attention to its role in promoting the legitimacy of complementary alternative medicine alongside conventional pharmacy services. This is a unique environment where you will find products and services from different modalities. 

On June 14, 2010 four inspectors from Health Canada, accompanied by two RCMP officers, and inspectors from the College of Pharmacists of BC raided the pharmacy and seized products   without NPN's (Natural Product Number) and ordered the closure of the store.

The total value of the products taken away by Health Canada was $146,290.85 (valued at cost) 

How is Marigold different?

Marigold is no ordinary pharmacy. First of all, the philosophy is based on Vis Curatio Intentio (to heal as nature intended). They do not carry regular drugstore items such as Tylenol, Nyquil, not even Band-aids. Instead, you will find a wide selection of the best quality vitamins and supplements, including professional lines such as Thorne, Seroyal, Metagenics, AOR, and Waiora. They carry functional foods, medicinal mushrooms, Ayurvedic medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, homeopathy, tissue salts and chemical free dermatological preparations. They also have their own line of products which are prepared in the compounding pharmacy.

What is the Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD)? 

The NHPR (Natural Health Products Regulations) came into full effect in January 2010. It is federal legislation through which Health Canada would legislate the sale of natural health products as it does drugs through the Food and Drug Act and the Food and Drugs Regulation. With the classification as drugs, the intent is to have all natural products develop a body of evidence based on science. The fact that natural ingredients can not be patented poses a dilemma for manufacturers. Natural ingredients can be isolated and purified and even chemically altered, but does this change the properties? Are they still natural?

For the quarterly reporting periods (2008/2009 and the first three quarters of 2009/2010) which represents 37.9% of the product licensing applications received since the start of the NHPR in 2004, a total of 19,402 applications have been processed of which 11,195 were licensed, 2,493 were withdrawn and 5,714 were refused. (Source: Clash of the Regulatory Bodies by Andrew Waldie, Integrated Health Practitioner, Special Report, Vol 10-2) This represents just a small fraction of natural products on the market. These are products already currently on the shelves, and does not count products in development. Already, many suppliers have stopped shipping to Canada and many small companies who cannot afford to comply are waiting in anticipation of what will happen. Larger companies are caught in the application process for NPN's and there are many products somewhere along the process.

Since 2004, there has been a growing backlog of applications and the CHFA (Canadian Health Food Association) has described the backlog as alarming.

In January 2010, NAPRA, the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities, of which the College of Pharmacists of BC is a member, issued a position statement advising pharmacies to stop selling any products that do not have a DIN ( Drug Identification Number), an NPN ( Natural Product Number) or a DIN-HM (Homeopathic Medicine DIN). This has been adopted by some provincial College of Pharmacists and is now being implemented through the removal of products at the retail level.

Where does Marigold fit in? 

Marigold does not fit in neatly into any category. Although we are a full service pharmacy with prescription services, we are very different from a traditional drugstore. Our expertise is in natural medicine, but we also understand the language and complexity of pharmaceutical drugs.

Marigold Compounding and Natural Pharmacy creates its own line of chemical- free products. In our formulations, we consciously and carefully select natural ingredients and avoid toxic chemicals. As much as possible, we try to stay close to the natural state of the medicine. We avoid using parabens, petroleum distillates, artificial colours, triethanolamine, magnesium stearate, butylated hydroxyanisole, butylated hydroxytoluene, PABA, sodium lauryl sulfate, artificial flavours and clay fillers. We formulate our capsules using alfalfa as the filler, rather than lactose or magnesium stearate.

Authorities from Health Canada have advised us in the past that as a compounding pharmacy, we have the ability to prepare products without an NPN registration as long as it fulfills the following criteria: 

1. It is prepared in a proper laboratory with good manufacturing processes. 
2. It is delivered directly to the end-user, the patient. 
3. There exists a professional relationship between a health practitioner and the patient.

Our ability to deliver professional advice is unparalleled in the industry. We have the following ten accredited practitioners on our staff:

Janette Cormier, AA, RH, R.Ac. Registered Herbalist, Registered Acupuncturist

Michel Duhaime, R.Ac,, DTCM Registered Acupuncturist, Transformation Acupuncture, EFT 

Raje Harwood Registered Reflexologist, Auricular Therapy

Dr. Erika Kneeland, B.Sc., ND Naturopathic Physician with a specialty in obstetrics, pediatrics and women’s health

Dr. Lise Maltais, FCAH, ND Naturopathic Physician, Registered Homeopathic Physician, Bowen Practitioner 

Charlese Nan, RMT Registered Massage Therapist, Injury Specialist

Kira Neumann, RNCP Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Nutrition Consultant

Sharon Niscak, M.Sc., RH Registered Herbalist 

Carol Smith, BA Reiki Master 

Rudy Sanchez, B.Sc. Pharm. Consulting Pharmacist, Formulator

Seizure by Health Canada and the College of Pharmacists:

The store was closed and has been closed since, as we comply with the requirements set out by the College and Health Canada. 

Here are some of the products that were removed from the shelves:

All Natural Sunscreens containing zinc oxide in various concentrations
Buttspackle containing calendula, peru balsam and zinc oxide
Arthrotopik Cream for inflammation, containing devil’s claw, calendula and arnica
Jocamu Ointment containing arnica and Rhus tox
Wild Oregano Oil, pure oil
Arnica Ointment 10% 
Shatavari Ayurvedic Powder 
Oil of Lavender pure essential oil
Grapefruit Seed Extract, pure
Colloidal Silver 
Goldenseal Powder in Manuka 16+ Medicinal Honey

Health Canada has seized inventory which does not bear NPN’s. Part of this inventory are products that we make based on our own formulas. Part of this inventory is from suppliers who have not complied with NPN regulations. The store is closed by the College of Pharmacists of BC pending compliance with regulations. 

These are the steps that are being done at this time: 
1. Institution of individualized professional practitioner consultations prior to sale of products without NPN. This will require that we record patient name, date of purchase and practitioner information, This will allow us to sell these products and continue preparing them if needed.
2. Installation of a service counter to remove public access to Marigold Products.
3. Initiation of the procedure to register a site license for Marigold and allow us eventually to file for NPN’s for our products.
4. Meeting the compliance issues set out by the College of Pharmacists of BC
regarding labeling, compounding registers, etc.

We are using this opportunity to input our inventory into a POS system and make these improvements to allow us to continue serving your health needs.

Marigold is a very unique and progressive pharmacy that happens to be right here in Courtenay. We appreciate your support during this period and ask you to participate as much as you can in the protection of natural health not just for this store, but for all natural health retailers and practitioners. 

1. For more information about Health Canada regulations regarding the requirement of NPN’s, please go to the website for NHPPA (Natural Health Products Protection Association) and watch some of the videos of Shawn Buckley, constitutional lawyer and advocate for protection of natural health products.
website: nhppa.org
2. Visit the site of CHFA (Canadian Health Food Association)
website: chfa.ca 

3. If you want to write a letter of support for Marigold, (especially if you have had a chance to use our services and have a story you want to share about outcomes), please send emails to:

4. All media enquiries are directed to :
250 338 9623