Pubdate: Fri, 25 Sep 2015
Source: Metro (Calgary, CN AB)
Copyright: 2015 Metro Canada
Author: Jeremy Simes
Page: 3


City Working to Change How the Businesses Are Regulated

The city is firing up ideas to roll with the budding medical 
marijuana counselling business.

New land-use bylaw amendments early this fall will address the 
expected growth of such facilities in the area as they sit in a grey 
area for city planners.

The proposal looks to change how medical marijuana counselling 
businesses are managed, regulated and classified by the city, 
according to Laurie Kimber, a City of Calgary planner who's been 
engaging all stakeholders that are part of the classification change.

Currently, medical marijuana counselling services are classified as 
"medical clinics." But that classification doesn't fit the city's 
definition - medical doctors don't counsel patients on the use of the 
substance or the types that are available to them, said city 
spokeswoman Jennifer Green in an email.

"We don't have any other (businesses) where people get advice from a 
non-medical professional on the use of a drug," Green said.

Kimber said he expects the number of these businesses to grow 
"substantially," especially if the Supreme Court refuses a challenge 
to keep the old personal growing system in place.

Calgary's two medical marijuana counselling clinics have grown 
considerably and expect to see their number of patients rise.

In fact, the 420 clinic now has 200 patients since opening four 
months ago with a starting clientele of 30, according to owner Jeff Mooij.

"It's growing fairly rapidly," he said. "People have more knowledge, 
and more doctors are understanding what we do, so we're getting more 
patients sent to us from doctors."

Miles Nakaska, a medical technician at Calgary's Medical Cannabis 
Health Institute - an affiliate of the Oasis Medical Centre - said 
the centre has about 1,800 patients and sees five to 10 new 
applications per day.

"We're growing almost exponentially," he said.

Mooij - who's been in talks with the city over the new classification 
rules - said he'd like to see the clinic classified as retail, 
somewhat like how pharmacies operate.

He emphasized the clinic is not a dispensary. Rather, it gets 
approval from doctors who sign a "medical document" to authorize its 
use for their clients, who then receive their medical marijuana in 
the mail from licensed producers.

"I think it's naturally going to grow, and (the city) is aware of 
that," Mooij said. "So, I think it's something they don't want to get 
out of control."

Green said medical marijuana counselling services could negatively 
impact the communities in which they operate through their marketing 
techniques, particularly their use of the marijuana leaf as an image.

"It can lead to perceptions, even if untrue, that a community is not 
a desirable place to visit," she said.

Mooij said he hopes new medical marijuana counselling businesses 
don't get zoned into industrial areas, since many patients require 
transit to easily access his location.

Kimber said council will make the final decisions, once it receives 
the report on Oct. 5.

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More Details

Calgary won't end up like Vancouver, councillor says

Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang estimated this week that only 15 to 20 
dispensaries will be approved after the city processes a whopping 176 
applications for business licences.

Laurie Kimber with the City of Calgary's planning department said 
Calgary won't end up like its western neighbour, as medical marijuana 
dispensaries are still considered illegal.

"I don't see how (the opening of medical marijuana dispensaries) 
would be an option for Calgary."

Vancouver approved a two-tier licensing system in June to stop the 
numerous illegal dispensaries sprouting across the city, defying 
warnings from the federal government by becoming Canada's first city 
to regulate storefront pot sales.

- - with files from Canadian Press
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom