Pubdate: Thu, 13 Mar 2014
Source: Cochrane Eagle (CN AB)
Copyright: 2014 Cochrane Eagle
Author: Kristen Spruit
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Rocky View County residents shared their feelings on a proposed land 
use amendment that would permit Licensed Medical Marijuana Facilities.

Rocky View County (RVC) is proposing a change to its Land Use Bylaw 
(LUB) to only allow federally-regulated Licensed Medical Marijuana 
Facilities to be located in areas of the county that are zoned for 
commercial use.

An open house was held at the county office March 5 from 4:30 p.m. to 
7:30 p.m. to inform residents about the proposed amendments, in 
advance of the public hearing March 25 when council will vote whether 
to approve the amendments.

The proposed changes follow Health Canada's announcement in June 2013 
that the Marijuana Medical Access Program - which allowed licensed 
individuals to produce marijuana at home for medical uses - would be 
phased-out by March 31, 2014, and replaced by licensed production facilities.

Under the current LUB, the production of medical marijuana is 
acceptable on lands that are designated for horticulture use. Among 
RVC's eight proposed amendments is to make a noted difference between 
the definition of a home-based business, horticulture development and 
market garden, and to define a Medical Marijuana Production Facility.

More than 70 people attended the open house, including residents 
voicing concerns about the safety of future grow-up locations, as 
well as residents who intend to apply to become a licensed producer.

Shawn Ripley, a Madden-area resident, said he doesn't think the 
amendments are necessary.

"I understand why you might have an intent to move the facilities 
into an industrial area, but I think the unintended consequences in 
this situation is that you're actually moving it closer to 
high-density residential areas, whereas if you are to leave it in the 
agricultural zone, it makes much more sense," said Ripley.

He added that he would not be opposed to a facility located in the 
Madden area if it met all the federal requirements.

Airdrie resident Shawn, who asked his last-name not be published for 
security reasons, said he intends to apply to become a licensed 
producer with several of his partners. He said he agreed with the 
amendments the county is proposing.

"A lot of the areas the county is proposing (as an acceptable 
location) are fine. I like the idea that it's outside of towns and 
not near residential areas or schools. Even though if it's (licensed 
marijuana facilities) done properly it's perfectly safe, it's still 
better to keep it away," he said.

Shawn, the owner of a landscaping company, said he intends to get 
into the industry because it "makes good business-sense," whereas his 
partners have more personal reasons.

"One of my partners' wives uses medical marijuana and she has many 
friends that do as well, and they're having a lot of troubles 
accessing the system. We're hoping these are the kinds of people 
we're going to help out if we get approved," he said.

Although Shawn said a location has not been determined for their 
proposed business, they are interested in areas in Balzac and 
Crossfield. He said the partners have been working on developing a 
business plan, and intend for their operation to be mid-size at 
first, servicing between 400 and 500 customers a year, and growing from there.

"More and more people are going to need these kinds of suppliers 
because they're going to have no other choice. Either they're going 
to have to buy it illegally on the street or grow it illegally 
themselves or they buy it from a supplier, and if they can get good 
suppliers - which is what we're hoping to be - and get a good product 
for a very reasonable price with good service and it's organic, then 
that helps them out," said Shawn.

He said he plans to attend the county's public hearing March 25, 
which takes place at 1:30 p.m. at the municipal office. Residents are 
able to voice their opinions, support or concerns about the 
amendments at the hearing, or in writing before March 12.

According to the information boards on display at the open house, the 
county has about 24 industrial or business areas where future 
marijuana operations could be located, but landowners could also 
apply to council to have their land redesignated to allow a facility. 
Operations must be a minimum of 400 metres away from a school site or 
residential area.

To see the proposed amendments, visit .
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom