The controversy surrounding a medical marijuana facility

No matter which side of the fence you may find yourself on in terms of a medical marijuana facility location in Red Deer, City council has approved the City’s first facility after months of wrangling over where it should be located.

This will be only the second facility in Alberta at this time.

Businesses in the area have been extremely vocal on the issue, concerned about everything from increased crime in the area – Queen’s Business Park – to odour of marijuana, a drop in property values and a jump in traffic congestion in the area as well.

It seemed at Monday night’s public hearing that although business and land owners in the area were against the rezoning to allow for the medical marijuana facility, there was a bigger issue at hand.

Speakers indicated rampant crime in the area that is already happening with absolutely no police presence or support coming from the City of Red Deer. We heard business owners also complaining that when they did call the RCMP for assistance, the local police force didn’t even know that area was part of Red Deer.

Many business owners also say they are forking out their own money to hire private security companies to ensure property losses are kept at a minimum.

Concerns over road maintenance by the City were also expressed with one presenter saying that in the wintertime, she had to gather up her own convoy of plows to make the roads passable.

After hearing these concerns, councillors were surprised by the allegations and vowed to take action.

As for the facility – from Medcan Solutions Incorporated – the property is located in the west QE2 Business Park, west of the QEII Hwy.

Wendy Konschuk, director and co-founder of MedCan Solutions, said changes to the original proposal had been made after initially hearing concern from area landowners.

She said the company has revised their original facility design in order to accommodate the I1 Industrial zoning and concerns around odour – specifically to reduce the number of flowering plants dramatically and instead use the majority of the space for pharmaceutical laboratory operations. The flowering plants, council learned, is what omits the odour.

The application proposed to use an existing 35,000 sq. ft. vacant building. The proposal was for the medical marijuana facility only with no retail sales, no advertising and no signage permitted in relation to the facility as it is strictly prohibited by federal regulations.

In regards to concern of odour, Tara Lodewyk, director of planning services for the City, said if the applicant is in violation, there will be a stop work order issued.

Although the subject is one of controversy, only time will tell what the potential benefits or disadvantages will be for those in that particular area.

Also, it’s worth remembering that this is about medical marijuana and not simply the recreational use of the substance. There’s no doubt it’s the wave of the future so to speak, so many are looking to this as a new means of health support and pain management.

It is anticipated that City council will have more decisions to make in regards to marijuana in the future as the federal government is looking to legalize the use of marijuana in 2017. We don’t think those decisions will be as straightforward as the one made regarding the medical marijuana facility.