City paves way for medical marijuana production facility

Dave Stewart
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Coun. Rob Lantz, centre, chairman of planning, talks before council's regular public monthly meeting Monday night with Couns. Melissa Hilton and Jason Coady.

City council in Charlottetown has paved the way for the province's first medical marijuana production facility.

By a vote of 8-2 at Monday night's regular public monthly meeting, council has agreed to amend the city's zoning and development bylaw by adding the definition for 'medical marijuana production facility'.

Couns. Mitchell Tweel and Danny Redmond were the two naysayers.

Council is also restricting where such a facility can be built. Those areas include the West Royalty Industrial Park, some light industrial areas located north of the city's bypass highway and the bio-commons park, although the city would likely have to amend its development agreement with the latter before going ahead.

The city's hand has essentially been forced. Under new federal legislation, large indoor marijuana farms certified by the RCMP and health inspectors, will be allowed to produce, package and distribute a range of standardized weed, all of it sold for whatever price the market will bear.

Coun. Rob Lantz, chairman of planning, said had council not voted in favour of the resolution such a production facility would have been allowed, by federal law, to build anywhere.

"These are legal, federally regulated facilities. We cannot prohibit them so what council did tonight was restrict them to some very small areas of the city,'' Lantz said. "A vote against this resolution is essentially a vote for the status quo which is to keep these unregulated which means they could be built essentially anywhere so council did the responsible thing, thankfully.''

Tweel said no one at a recent public meeting on the issue spoke in favour of a medical marijuana facility.

"Three speakers got up to the podium and not one spoke in favour so the question is why the urgency? Why the rush?'' Tweel said. "Have we heard from the P.E.I. Medical Society? Have we heard from the RCMP? Have we heard from the Charlottetown police department? I haven't heard anyone speak in favour.''

Tweel dismisses federal legislation talk, pointing to  government's moves to eliminate door-to-door postal delivery, cutting Veterans Affairs Canada jobs and closing district offices as proof it doesn't always make good decisions.

Lantz said there is nothing the city can do to block them.

"I am advised that we cannot legally prohibit a legal facility of any kind, no more than we can prohibit dry cleaners from being in the city. We have the ability and probably the obligation, I would say, to regulate where they could go.''

Lantz anticipates there is a developer that will be coming to the city with an application to build one.

"There is somebody coming to us with an application. We will see it and we'll have to deal with it. in the absence of what we did here tonight we would have no control over where it would go.''

Lantz said the issue was about zoning and not about debating the merits of marijuana use.

"I think some people took advantage of the subject matter of what happens at these facilities and tried to turn it into something it's not.''

Lantz said other municipalities around the region are doing the same thing Charlottetown did and regulating where they can go. There's only a handful operating right now in Canada but that is going to change.

"I prefer this approach . . . and I think law enforcement officials would tell you the same thing. The product from these facilities is more likely to get in the hands and stay in the hands of the people who legitimately need it.

"I think there have been concerns in the past, and I've heard this rationale for the federal government's decision to go this way . . . the licensing system they used before for individuals, allowing them to grow it in their own homes, some of this stuff was finding its way onto the black market so if the proliferation of marijuana is a concern then I think that the federal government is probably doing the right thing by consolidating the production and distribution into these larger facilities that are really tightly regulated.''

The issue needs final approval from the province, a process likely to take two to four weeks.

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

 

Organizations: RCMP, P.E.I. Medical Society, Veterans Affairs Canada

Geographic location: Charlottetown, West Royalty Industrial Park, Canada

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Recent comments

  • Pablo Escobar
    February 11, 2014 - 18:49

    At first I thought it was our government finally getting smart and authorizing a medical marijuana facility but nope turns out its a federal thing allowing medical marijuana dispensaries anywhere unless the province provides zoning for it? And it appears our government is criticizing this, what a bunch of goofs, I'm going to be so happy when our federal government adapts Colorado's laws and legalizes recreational use it will solve so many problems its not even funny. P.S. nobody starts on pot you jackasses alcohol kills more people and causes more problems then all illegal drugs combined excluding opiates. When will our islanders learn. At least this is a step in the right direction.

  • piggie to the trough
    February 11, 2014 - 14:25

    Where do I sign up for a liscence to print money? I'd say this would be the 3rd best thing on the go behind PnP money and a private liquor store open till midnight on the weekends.

  • ibc
    February 11, 2014 - 11:36

    Just make it all legal and Gize will make you all happy . Have a drive trough and you can do it on the run .Goverment can set up crack houses etc. and charge a fee for a heated place and free needles .Hoping you all live longer , to make money . YES I HAVE LIVED THE HORRERS OF SEEING MEN AND WOMEN KILL THEM SELEVES , WITH A START ON POT.

    • It's a shame...
      February 11, 2014 - 14:30

      Too bad you don't have any evidence outside anecdotal tales to back that up, like peer-reviewed studies, etc.

    • Jamie
      February 11, 2014 - 15:22

      In my experience, most drug addicts start on either breast milk or formula.

    • April Morrison
      February 13, 2014 - 09:41

      Jaime, you are fantastic

  • Whoa Dude
    February 11, 2014 - 10:25

    Whoa dude this is awesome. Yo, let's go smoke a dubie!

  • foolish
    February 11, 2014 - 09:38

    Just wondering why anyone would buy their pot from the government at most likely $10 per gram or more when you can buy it from your local dealers for around $5. Give me a break, It's called dope but it doesn't make a person an idiot. BTW, just like making moonshine the only reason weed is illegal in the first place is there is no tax revenue collected. Soon to be changed. No difference in the weed but just who is selling it and the cost. Bunch of BS...

  • don
    February 11, 2014 - 05:39

    next will be lsd,etc etc. another tax crab by governments.

    • Nice Logic
      February 11, 2014 - 10:25

      What have you been smoking? And what is a tax crab? A cranky person who collects taxes?

  • Make it work for the terribly ill
    February 10, 2014 - 22:02

    A good friend had AIDS. He lived in another province. He had been prescribed medicinal marijuana for pain and nausea but he claims it was so weak and ineffective that it did no good. If they choose to produce it for serious diseases such as he had then they should make it stronger and effective. For seriously serious diseases I think it should be perhaps prescribed but be able to be strong enough to meet the need of that particular patient. The debate is out on prescribing for silly maladies.

    • Licensed
      February 11, 2014 - 09:19

      That will be the benefit of the new system, there will be access to more effective strains of weed... right now, the government only distributes one strain. But with all these new production facilities, users will have a choice and will be able to see what strain works best for their ailments. The downfall, the price will go from $5/gram if your supplied by the government, to an estimated begining price of $7.60/gram from the new producers. In all, i think it's a great step forward. For a lot of people, myself included, it makes a huge difference in the day by reducing pain. Those against it, won't complain if they're ever in a situation and have to deal with chronic pain on a daily basis.

  • wow eh
    February 10, 2014 - 21:51

    Prov/municipal govts now see a cash cow. Not like people didn't see this coming. Guess they should post signs outside buildings - no smoking outside & no "marijuana" smoking either. Just to differentiate. Smoking is legal. Cigarettes cigars & now medical pot LEGAL. So maybe they will now have to make spaces open for the uses of these LEGAL drugs. There is a new concept. Can't smoke cigarettes outside this building but you can smoke medical marijuana. No, I am not a smoker. Just saying.