Pubdate: Wed, 15 Feb 2017
Source: Northern View, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 The Northern View
Author: Shannon Lough


Selling marijuana for medical or recreational purposes has been
temporarily banned from the city - yet a cannabis clinic that would
provide service to North Coast communities still has every intention
of moving forward with opening its doors within the year.

On Feb. 6, after a public hearing that drew only three vocal
residents, Prince Rupert city council passed the zoning bylaw
amendment that prohibits the commercial sale and production of
marijuana until Jan. 1, 2018.

This temporary prohibition, however, does not block the Medical
Cannabis Resource Centre Inc. (MCRCI) from opening a site in the city.
There was some confusion raised during the public hearing over whether
or not the bylaw would allow for a medical marijuana dispensary that
would offer support and information to users, and a variety of
marijuana products on site rather than ordering online.

Jennifer Nelson brought the question to council, as she has been
constructing a business plan for a tea and medical marijuana
dispensary. She wanted council to clarify the difference between the
recreational industry and the medical marijuana industry.

"If you can keep in mind that easy access for the medical marijuana
patients its almost non-existent now so there is an actual need to
bring forward something that is going to be functional," Nelson said.

Then in the proceeding council session, councillor Joy Thorkelson
suggested to amend the bylaw to allow medical marijuana clinics to
distribute marijuana products.

"Is there such thing as a medical dispensary that's legal?" Mayor Lee
Brain said in response.

There isn't, however the MCRCI works around the legal implications of
a dispensary by offering the services and information without
distributing cannabis.

Federal law requires patients to have a written approval, basically a
prescription, from a health practitioner in order to access medical
marijuana through one of the licenced producers vetted by Health
Canada. The product is available to order online and is delivered
through the mail. Patients are also allowed to grow marijuana for
their own personal use.

In November, MCRCI made their interest in setting up a clinic in
Prince Rupert known. For the past six years, the Vancouver-based
company has been in the business of being a medical cannabis
middle-man, linking patients to medical marijuana with physicians
willing to provide a prescription if the patient qualifies for it.

The company had connected with a physician in Prince Rupert who was
willing to work with them, and they determined this would be their
first northern B.C. site. As the months slipped by, there was no word
from the company until after last week's council session.

Founder and president of MCRCI Terry Roycroft clarified that they had
been waiting to confirm with the physician in Prince Rupert as to
whether or not he could work with them, but due to family issues he
had to return to his home country.

"We've lost our doctor but not all is lost. We're going to do one of
our remote information centres," Roycroft said. "In lieu of having an
in-house physician we'll have a location that will allow people to
come in, get information and education about it. They'll be connected
with a physician, and they'll be able to do Skype appointment."

Roycroft spoke with Prince Rupert's mayor this month and explained how
their clinic works.

"After my conversation with him, he's on board, he understands that
we're the real deal."

Once MCRCI opens its new clinic, possibly sometime in the spring or
summer, Roycroft said he plans to come to the city and host a town
hall meeting to answer questions about how their cannabis clinic works.
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