Ernie Eves has gone from politics to pot.
While other politicians tend to join law firms, become consultants or work on various other staid pursuits, the former Progressive Conservative premier of Ontario has chosen to branch out.
He has joined Timeless Herbal Care – a Jamaican medical marijuana company with ties in Canada and Israel – as its chairman.
But Eves says his medical marijuana work shouldn't be construed as support for broader use and he insists he hasn't sampled the merchandise.
"No, my standard response to that was only for [Toronto Argonauts football] games, but that was about 40 years ago when the Argos were brutal," the 68-year-old says, laughing in a telephone interview. "I could say for [Toronto Maple Leafs] games today I suppose, but no, I do not use it."
Timeless Herbal Care is run by Courtney Betty, formerly a Toronto-based lawyer, and through mutual friends Eves says he got on board.
Eves was Ontario's premier from April, 2002, to October, 2003, and led the province during some rocky times, particularly the SARS crisis and the blackout of 2003. Eves is on several boards, but he admits this one is a bit different.
"Everybody presumes that medical marijuana means sitting around smoking pot and that really isn't what it's all about," Eves says.
"There's something like over 140 different types of marijuana, which not many people appreciate and different strains are used to treat different conditions and illnesses. I think it could be quite a high-growth area in terms of medicinal use."
Timeless Herbal Care is well positioned as Jamaica steps "ahead of the curve," Eves says.
Jamaica's cabinet has approved a much-anticipated bill of drug law amendments that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot and pave the way for a legal medical marijuana industry there. Debate could start before the end of the month in the pot-steeped country where the drug, known popularly as "ganja," has long been culturally entrenched but illegal.
Timeless Herbal Care is not a full-time gig for Eves, who says he visited Jamaica once in his capacity as the company's chairman and met with the justice minister.
Meanwhile, former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty was hired this week as a senior adviser by business consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers.
With a report from Associated Press.