© Nigel Armstrong - The Guardian
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.”