Pubdate: Wed, 11 Dec 2013
Source: Okotoks Western Wheel (CN AB)
Copyright: 2013, Okotoks Western Wheel
Author: Don Patterson


Foothills: MD studying how to adapt to changes

New federal rules for medical marijuana set to come into effect in 
the spring have municipalities scrambling to figure out how to manage 
what could become a new industry within their borders.

Under new federal regulations announced earlier this year, after 
March 2014 people with prescriptions for marijuana will no longer be 
able to grow their own. This leaves licensed producers as the only 
legal source of medical marijuana.

MD of Foothills Coun. Suzanne Oel said the MD is working on plans to 
determine how it will regulate legal, licensed medical marijuana 
growing operations that could start to sprout up.

"We have this new responsibility and we need to figure out how we're 
going to manage it," she said.

The issue has been discussed in camera by MD council, but the issue 
will come to a public council meeting in January. As such, she said 
she can't reveal details of what the MD is looking at right now.

However, she said it's something the MD needs to deal with soon.

By the end of March 2014, medical marijuana users will only be 
permitted to get the drug from licensed producers. As well, Health 
Canada is getting out of the business of producing and distributing 
medical marijuana starting in April.

Federal regulations outline a long list of rules for licensed 
producers, regarding building standards, operating practices and 
strict security measures for licensed production facilities. Licensed 
producers must also share details of their operations with local police.

Production will not be allowed in homes and municipal zoning laws 
will need to be respected.

Since Health Canada created the Marijuana Medical Access Program in 
2001, the number of people authorized to use it has grown from 5,000 
to 30,000. With the growth of the program, the federal government 
brought in the changes to treat marijuana like other narcotics used 
for medical purposes and provide access to the drug under secure conditions.

Oel said there are still a number of unanswered questions that need 
to be considered, such as appropriate locations, residents' concerns 
and security.

"We have to consider that there's a possibility of the public not 
wanting it, while the applicants coming forward would have a right to 
do it under federal guidelines," said Oel. "We would have to consider 
all these things."

The head of the Priddis Millarville Residents Association (PMRA) said 
residents would not likely be supportive of medical marijuana 
operations being allowed on or near residential areas for a number of 
reasons, such as security and the potential of abuse.

"If it is run as a business, in other words licensees could grow 
marijuana, then you can't have a business everywhere in every 
backyard," said Francis Dover. "You have to have it in certain 
industrial areas and that might be a way of zoning it."

She understands why the MD needs to look at the issue.

"They need to put a template and a structure in place, I totally see 
that," said Dover.
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