Pubdate: Sat, 01 Apr 2017
Source: Daily Press, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Sun Media
Author: Emma Meldrum
Page: A1


TIMMINS - A boom in the marijuana industry could lead to economic
benefits for Northern Ontario communities.

That's according to players in the medical marijuana industry and Alan
Spacek, the mayor of Kapuskasing. His community is waiting for word
from Health Canada on whether or not Canassist will be able to set up
shop there.

"There has been no information for many months," said Spacek, who
noted the application was submitted in January 2015. "We have a
location, we have a plan ready, we're just waiting for the letter to

Spacek said that a thorough consultation process revealed no concerns
from residents.

"In fact, there were some very supportive comments."

He believes the facility, if approved, will benefit

"It's very significant. I believe on commencement of production,
they're looking at an excess of 40 jobs, so it's a very significant
economic generator for our community."

DelShen Therapeutics Medical Marijuana, which is establishing a
facility in Kirkland Lake, is a few steps ahead in the application

DelShen is a licensed producer as of Feb. 28.

Dr. Barry Kurtzer, the president and chief executive, said the company
will have to grow two cycles worth of products and have them approved
by Health Canada to receive its sales license.

They chose Northern Ontario to set up shop because of founder and
executive director Martin Shefsky's connections to the area.

"The North has basically been his second home," said Kurtzer from his
Toronto office. "He felt he wanted to keep the spirit of job growth
and economic boom in Northern Ontario."

DelShen jobs will grow alongside the first cycles of medical

"We would anticipate anywhere from 30 to 50 jobs as we evolve through
that stage of our initial production cycle. And then we anticipate
more than 100 jobs over the next two years."

Kurtzer said those numbers would expand if marijuana is legalized for
recreational use - and regulations allow DelShen to participate. Their
current facility, a former Ministry of Natural Resources tree and
seedling farm, includes room to grow.

"We have copious room for development if it seems that it's favourable
for us to entertain going into the recreational market."

Brianna Humphry has a medical marijuana licence and recently taught a
cooking class around the ingredient at her restaurant, Radical
Gardens. She's looking forward to the possibility of legalized pot -
and says it holds positive potential for the area.

"I think it's a great step forward for our country. I think that,
especially for municipalities like Timmins that are very, very tied to
finite industries like mining and forestry, this could open up a whole
new set of employment options for Northern Ontario," said Humphry.

Her cooking classes reflect a need she's identified among medical
marijuana users.

"As it stands right now, if you have a medical marijuana licence, you
can purchase bud, and from a few companies, oil."

Some users don't want or don't know how to smoke the product they
receive from Health Canada. She's teaching her students how to make
butter and tincture. Her students all hold medical marijuana licences.

Pot legalization could boost her business - "there's lots of people
who don't have their medical marijuana licence who want to take these
classes" - but Humphry thinks it could be a positive for everyone from
the federal government to municipalities.

Dr. Kurtzer and Shefsky are hoping their endeavour benefits the First
Nations communities they're partnering with.

Matachewan First Nation and Wahgoshig First Nation have signed on with
community benefit agreements.

The agreement "basically allowed them to also participate as investors
in the program and the company and to give them first-line access to
jobs, provided obviously that people applying for jobs have the
appropriate skills, to have First Nations representation on our board
of directors and to give assistance to the communities in their
combating of drug and alcohol misuse and abuse."

Not everyone is on board with marijuana legalization,

Pot advocate Robert Neron, a former Marijuana Party candidate, wrote
by email to speak against it.

"I feel the legalization process is (a) scam to be elected only,"
wrote Neron, who recommended current users keep supporting their usual

Ontario has the highest number of authorized licensed producers for
medical producers, with 24 of the country's 41. Initial licence dates
fluctuate, with seven issued in 2016, three in 2015 and eight in 2014.

So far, two have been granted this year.

Dr. Kurtzer said the medical marijuana growers' industry is watching
the legalization process closely.

"Everybody is watching right now. Obviously, it's a very hot area so
to speak, regarding health care as well as investment opportunities,"
he said.

Local police are watching too, but so far nothing has changed in their
enforcement. In 2016, the Timmins Police Service seized 3,951 grams of
marijuana, which has a street value of $39,510.

"We will enforce whatever laws are on the books," said Marc Depatie,
TPS's communications director. "We're aware that there's significant
movement to legalize marijuana.

"We're charged with the responsibility of enforcing the laws. And
should the laws change, then we'll continue to enforce those laws that
remain on the books."

The federal government plans to introduce a bill for pot legalization
during the week of April 10.
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