Marijuana facility sends wrong message, meeting told

Nigel Armstrong
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Kat Murphy, representing an association called Maritimers Unite For Medical Marijuana, speaks at a meeting hosted called by Charlottetown City Council at the Rodd Charlottetown Hotel Wednesday. On the agenda was bylaw changes defining a medical marijuana production facility and where it might be allowed to locate within the city.

Reverend Scott MacIsaac tells Charlottetown City Council that allowing medical grow op will endorse drug use

Charlottetown cannot say no to any proposal that might come its way concerning construction of a medical marijuana facility, a public meeting heard.

City council turned out in full Wednesday for a public meeting hosted by the planning and heritage committee to look at three issues.

While the meeting began with standing room only from a crowd estimated at 100, most left after discussion of zoning changes for an expansion of Mel’s Quick Mart on St. Peter’s Road, and changes to allow the new horse barn at the Charlottetown Driving Park.

That left close to 30 people to hear a proposal that the city of Charlottetown amend its development bylaws to included a definition of a medical marijuana production facility.

The proposed changes would limit such a facility to a heavy industrial zone or a business park with some possibility of locating in the new BioCommons zone.

There is no application for such a plant, but if one ever did come, the city needs some regulations as to where it can go, the meeting was told.

That did not sit well with Reverend Scot MacIsaac, who works with offenders on P.E.I. in the criminal justice system.

“Do we as a city not have a responsibility, above and beyond the sheer legality, to determine whether or not we, as a society in Charlottetown, wish to have a facility such as this?” he said. “Is there not a greater-good issue here?”

Allowing a production facility to be constructed sends a wrong message to the wider community, beyond the medical marijuana users, he said.

Youth in the province will not get the medical message from any such production facility, said MacIsaac.

“You are giving credence to the use of drugs,” he said.

Mayor Lee entered the discussion, saying he had family that suffered from cancer and found relief with marijuana.

He said he cannot go and walk into local pharmaceutical companies like BioVectra and buy its medicines.

The marijuana facility would be legally permitted by federal law to produce a medical product that offers relief to patients, said Lee.

“The city of Charlottetown has absolutely no authority to prohibit a legal use such as this in the city,” said Councillor Rob Lantz, chair of the planning and heritage committee. “You can’t say that it is never going to happen in the City of Charlottetown.

“We have the authority, under our zoning and development bylaw, to control where such a facility might be built and to appropriately separate land uses that should not be adjacent.”

Like schools or residential zones, said Lantz.

The new federal regulations that are scheduled to come into effect April 1 will see home-grown and small scale medical marijuana activities no longer permitted, replaced by larger-scale, licensed production plants.

“There is a lot of rules and regulations around these licences,” said Alex Forbes, the city’s manger of planning.

He found 225 pages of regulations.

“Sale and distribution of medical marijuana cannot occur on site,” said Forbes.

It must be sent by secure courier to the customer’s residence.

“There will be no drive thru,” said Forbes. “It does not allow for storefront or retail distribution.”

Kat Murphy, representing an association called Maritimers Unite For Medical Marijuana, reminded the meeting that the proposed changes are not yet in effect and are subject to legal battles from pro-marijuana advocates that say the regulations amount to unreasonable barriers.

She said most medical marijuana users are on pensions or income support because of their illness.

She said they used to be able to grow their own or have a caretaker grow it at a cost of about 22 cents per gram.

The new system is expected to result in a price of close to $10 per gram, she said.

“That is a huge difference,” said Murphy. “Who’s going to pay that?

“This is not just about making money,” she said. “This is people’s medicine. It is their human right. We are taking it away and we are commercializing it, we are corporatizing it so that people can make profit at the expense of the people who are weakest in society.”

Organizations: Maritimers Unite For Medical Marijuana

Geographic location: Charlottetown, P.E.I.

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Recent comments

  • Stew
    January 30, 2014 - 20:10

    Reading these comments is like watching an episode of the "Trailer Park Boys", minus the foul language.

  • Sandra Boswell
    January 30, 2014 - 17:39

    Leave it to PEI to come up with a stupid idea that will just increase drug usage here. Just what we need. It is all just an excuse to get legally 'high'. Give tax payers a break illegal drugs are already driving people off the Island and cost tax payer way too much money. Who comes up with these brain-dead ideas. Today is a great example (40 drug busts in one day) of why we should not grow illegal weed. There are other pain relievers that are natural. Plus if there is anything left of our brains one can do a lot to control pain just by using them.

    • Get It Straight
      January 31, 2014 - 13:25

      "Today is a great example....of why we should not grow illegal weed". Seriously? This is NOT about "illegal weed". Try to keep up.

  • Modern times
    January 30, 2014 - 16:46

    I've never commented on any topics, but I do feel the need to say something here. In no way am I encouraging or discouraging the cultivation/use of cannabis; having said that, giving the government control over the distribution of *medical* marijuana creates a blanket of security for consumers across the nation. By accepting the fact that, yes, marijuana is smoked by a large amount of canadians and, yes, it is a growingly-accepted practice, there is an opportunity to heavily eradicate petty crime. PEI has a serious drug issue; anyone who is oblivious to that should step outside their homes a little more often. Basic economics dictates that a supply must be created to meet the demand; this is where there home-grown operations and drug dealers come in. By regulating and distributing marijuana in a strict, and heavily-scrutinized manner, there is the potential to vastly decrease the illegal transfer of drugs, most of which have been chemically altered and can be dangerous. As Bob Dylan once said, "the world, it's a changing". Instead of opposing and fighting this movement, because you will indeed lose this battle, look into positive ways that this will affect PEI: -An entirely new sector which could create hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs for islanders -Provincial revenue that could be used to create infrastructure; fund hospitals and soup kitchens; the list goes on.. -Readily-available medicine for patients with chronic pain/chemotherapy. -Tourism: Maritimers will be curious about the plant and will come to PEI to see it. At the end of the day, people can argue as much as they want that marijuana is bad; to a certain extent, over-consumption of any kind can be detrimental to your health, as is the case with alcohol, tobacco, and food. The legalization of marijuana in the US has cemented the future of marijuana in North America; therefore, people opposed to the potentially construction of a medical marijuana facility can continue to protest, or they can begin dividing the revenues and using them to improve the quality of life for all islanders. My apologies to anyone who was offended.

  • call bs
    January 30, 2014 - 15:30

    @ just don't have a clue!

    • don
      January 30, 2014 - 16:55

      you should not judge till you know me. i have seen many druggies and new born's from druggie mom's. and it makes me SICK.

  • call bs
    January 30, 2014 - 15:28

    @personal observation. I call you on your first point. I started using mj the same year I began my career, 18 years ago, at a mear $16,000/yr salary. I am now making $70,000/yr. You don't get that far ahead in life by being stupid! If you're stupid before you use you'll be stupid after. It's a weed, plain and simple. It should be regulated the same as beer and wine, by that I mean everyone should be able to grow their own, just like one can make their own beer/wine. It's great that those suffering can get legal access but why should the rest of us be treated like criminals?!?!

  • Sassy
    January 30, 2014 - 11:46

    First, no one should be surprised by the fear mongering....religion was built on it... Second, the biggest issue with marijuana is the ignorance surrounding it's benefits and the over criminalization by our government...which when they find a way to tax it and use the cash to further line their own pockets it will be legalized... Third, the fact PEI remains 20 years behind mainstream society has always been a detriment to our wonder the youth leave and don't return...

    • don
      January 30, 2014 - 14:32

      thats ok once they set up the weed store they will be selling meth,cocaine,herion,crack,pcp etc and they will get lots of tax money thats what they want to hell with the lives just give them the tax money. wait and see.

  • Personal Observation
    January 30, 2014 - 10:23

    I have two strong beliefs on all of this based on personal observation and since you can produce lots of studies about marijuana that will line up with whatever your position is, personal observation is all I have to go on. One - people who smoke marijuana regularly over a number of years get stupid, not just a few hours stupid but incurably stupid. Two - marijuana eases chronic pain and gives those suffering a better quality of life and therefore should be readily available. There, make a law that reconciles those two things and problem solved.

    • TheTruth
      January 31, 2014 - 14:53

      HA! You would be shocked the number of " closet smokers" who you probably know. Doctors, lawyers, teachers... just cause you don't see it happening doesn't mean it isn't! Also, marijuana does not make you stupid! You just are or you aren't and smoking a little, or a lot, of weed is not going to change that!

  • obvious
    January 30, 2014 - 10:15

    Does everybody except slyfox miss the prices involved before & after??? Amazing

  • Jason Peters
    Jason Peters
    January 30, 2014 - 10:01

    Leave it to a representative of the church to bring the voice of reason to the table without any evidence to support their argument. Just more ignorant fear mongering.

  • PharmaFarce
    January 30, 2014 - 09:39

    Synthetic, lab produced marijuana is on record as having killed the patients. Big Pharma continues to push to add to its expensive arsenal on taxpayers' backs with the siren lure of dollars in the public treasury and straight-faced claims to controls like those for alcohol. Hello! Alcohol regulations allow production of one's own spirits for one's own enjoyment. If alcohol were regulated like Harper's medical marijuana, we can expect the dandelion police any day now. That ubiquitous weed makes a more potent and potentially deadly brew than Rick Simpson's proven marijuana oil for curing and managing cancers. A related patent on the cure of cancer with marijuana is held by the US government since the 1970s.

  • Elle Joraco
    January 30, 2014 - 09:21

    I find it disgusting that people want those who have debilitating illnesses, people going through chemotherapy to suffer, because they're "Afraid for their children". Maybe teach your children to make better decisions. Where's your outrage for oxycodone? Or codeine in general? It's a pharmaceutical just like marijuana, except it's available in every pharmacy in PEI. It's MUCH easier to get a prescription for oxycodone than it is for medicinal marijuana, and oxycodone has worse side effects and a higher addiction rate. Heck you don't even need a prescription in Canada for 222s and Tylenol 2s, both of which have codeine.

  • joey
    January 30, 2014 - 09:21

    I find it amusing that there are still loons out there who buy into reefer madness. I mean wow, how much ignorance can one head hold? Marijuana is medicine, it's safe, and it isnt going anywhere. Come to grips with that simple reality.

  • joey
    January 30, 2014 - 09:19

    I find it amusing that there are still loons out there who buy into reefer madness. I mean wow, how much ignorance can one head hold? Marijuana is medicine, it's safe, and it isnt going anywhere. Come to grips with that simple reality.

  • Jason Peters
    Jason Peters
    January 30, 2014 - 09:16

    Leave it to a representative of the church to bring the voice of reason to the table without any evidence to support their argument. Just more ignorant fear mongering.

  • John MacDonald
    January 30, 2014 - 08:46

    The good reverend has a compassionate duty to yield to Ms. Murphy's interests. Ms. Murphy is speaking for the sick. Marijuana is scientifically proven to provide relief to suffering. The reverend's supporters must accept science as we all must. And favor compassion, besides, for Christ's sake.

  • User
    January 30, 2014 - 08:27

    This comment is directed at Don, my question to you is have you ever ingested marijuana? Do you know the health benefits of it, the side effects or the actual effects it has on people's lives? I was diagnosed with ADHD a number of years ago and I was prescribed Ridelin? Ridelin is a drug that is suppose to calm you down, but for me what it did was caused stomach aches and pains and did absolutely nothing to me, I was encouraged to try weed, and subseqentially this has been a much better alternative than any prescription drug my doctors have tried to put me on. Marijuana is a plant, it's natural, it's proven to fight cancer or at least help with painful side effects of many different diseases. I'm living proof that this stuff is good for your health not just for what you think it's for as a recreational drug like cocaine or prescription drugs that have become even more dangerous for our youth and children off all ages. I'm almost 30 years old and I will continue to use it as long as it is available! Marijuana is in no way harmful to our health, like cigarettes and alcohol which any young person can purchase off the street, do your research next time before chastising people for smoking weed! Maybe try it yourself, it calmed me down, maybe it will help you! Cheers

    • Cody
      January 30, 2014 - 09:25

      I work hard everyday, to provide for my family. I work full time hours, and like to unwind down to a nice joint. Is that too much to ask for Father? Catholic priests have quite the drinking culture but all of a sudden its wrong to light one up.

  • ross
    January 30, 2014 - 08:26

    I came here to call Reverand MacIsaac out for his fear-mongering, "won't somebody think of the children," NIMBY-esque attitude toward progress, while completely ignoring what perfectly legal and government-endorsed alcohol does to a society, but I see someone beat me to it. Thanks, Steve. This was very informative article, and then you have people like "don" saying things like this, "time to fire any one that wants the weed plant." Really? Just fire them all, for wanting a weed plant? What a joke, some people are are.

  • Steve
    January 30, 2014 - 07:46

    Rev. MacIsaac, what does it tell our youth when they see the government (and most of society, actually) actively promote the consumption intoxicating liqours? These substances cause many instances of disease, death on our highways, family violence, loss of workplace productivity, and on and on. Would it not be more intellectually consistent to devote time to those things that are proven to cause societal problems, that go after a facility that will produce a product that has been shown to have valid medical benefits?

  • beagle
    January 30, 2014 - 07:17

    When they legalized marijuana for medical use, they created a nightmare for law enforcement and made it much easier for drugs to be black-marketed back to the street, and TO OUR KIDS, by "legal home growers." Change that removes home growers and moves towards commercial, federally regulated plants will help keep drugs off of the streets, away from our kids, and will make it easier to regulate and enforce.

  • Fred
    January 30, 2014 - 06:56

    If a production facility is giving credence to drug use, what about the government sponsored drug use at the PEI Beer Fsetival?

  • don
    January 29, 2014 - 23:53

    1st weed what will be next? it boils down again to money for the government plain and simple not for the health of our kids just money. and to think the city wants a cop in the schools to help fight drugs now they want to allow a weed growing business. what does that tell you? time to fire the mayor. time to fire any one that wants the weed plant. if you think it is bad for doc's giving to many people prescriptions for pain pills just think how many they will be giving for weed?

    • Cody
      January 30, 2014 - 09:20

      Why have an issue with cannabis...It has more healing properties than side effects. Unlike most the medication advertised these days. How many people do you know who over dosed on marijuana? Zero. Fact: It is less harmful than alcohol. I'm not giving an opinion, I'm laying down facts & Stop wanting to take people's medicine grandpa.

    • Cody
      January 30, 2014 - 09:22

      Why have an issue with cannabis...It has more healing properties than side effects. Unlike most the medication advertised these days. How many people do you know who over dosed on marijuana? Zero. Fact: It is less harmful than alcohol. I'm not giving an opinion, I'm laying down facts & Stop wanting to take people's medicine grandpa.

    • TheTruth
      January 30, 2014 - 10:45

      Making a correlation between having a cop in the school system to fight prescription drug use and the use of medical marijuana by adults is really just not rational, Don. First of all, kids aren't smoking marijuana at school. It's bulky and it's smell is obvious; they are doing prescription pills and that is what the officer is really there for. Students have also soaked tampons in vodka in the past and inserted them to get drunk while at school. I suppose we should also close our government sanctioned local alcohol dealers... we must think of the children. The "weed growing business" will actually be a medical marijuana grow facility that will be more tightly controlled then alcohol! The general public will not have access to the product; a prescription will be required to purchase and there will be NO retail area at the facility. I really think you need to do some serious research on medical marijuana use. By serious research I mean going outside of the conservative news articles you are half reading and perhaps take into account the many studies done saying that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol or smoking and has many medical uses. How could you ever want to deny someone medication that has little to no side effect but helps to lead a better life? Wildly irrational if you ask me. You've been caught up in the Reefer Maddness that is little more than fear mongering and propaganda backed by little to know actual empirical or scholarly evidence.

    • don
      January 30, 2014 - 17:00

      well just a few to think about they said aspartame was safer then real sugar now they are saying it is not. then they said not to drink to much coffee it was bad for you now they are saying it is ok. then they said chocolate milk would make you fat now they say it is ok. so give them time they will tell the truth about weed junkies.

  • SlyFox
    January 29, 2014 - 22:29

    A legal user can grow their own for 22 cents a gram and government gets involved and it is now 10 dollars a gram.Sounds about right.