Pubdate: Thu, 07 Dec 2017
Source: Sherwood Park News (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Osprey Media
Author: Aaron Barr


The County of Strathcona prides itself on being a "champion for
advancing diverse agricultural business." We hope that you keep this
spirit in mind when voting on the request to place a moratorium on
cannabis operations under intensive horticulture in Strathcona County.

As a county that puts priority on being a place that is open for
business and investment, this moratorium is counter-intuitive to
Strathcona's strategic priorities and goals. With agricultural
expertise and well-honed entrepreneurial spirit, Alberta is poised to
be a leader in the Canadian cannabis industry.

Just like every farming operation is not the same, not every cannabis
operation is alike. Licensed producers range from industrial to
sustainable farming practices, each with its own zoning requirements.
Health Canada's proposed approach to the legalization of cannabis,
released in November 2017, supports "a diverse, competitive legal
industry that is comprised of a range of market participants,
including both small and large players in regions across the country."

The proposed approach outlines three types of cultivation licenses and
two processing licenses, including: micro-cultivation, which would
authorize the small-scale growing of cannabis plants and harvesting
material from those plants, as well as associated activities; and,
micro-processing, which would authorize the small-scale manufacturing,
packaging and labelling of cannabis products destined for sale to
consumers, and the intra-industry sale of these products, including to
provincially-territorially authorized distributors, as well as
associated activities.

Canada is the first of the G20 countries to fully legalize cannabis
for recreational consumption and open up sale and distribution to both
domestic and international markets. This is an unprecedented
opportunity for Canada to be the global leader in the cannabis space,
to shape the regulatory framework for cannabis around the world and to
spur innovation and economic productivity. This is an innovative
agriculture and entrepreneurial opportunity that the County of
Strathcona has the chance to be at the forefront of.

Many believe that consolidation of the cannabis industry is
inevitable, leaving a few large players post-legalization. This is why
many cannabis entrepreneurs are developing their cannabis operations
as small-scale growing operations, which appropriately fall within
intensive-horticulture zoning requirements rather than industrial.

While federal and provincial legislation pertaining to the sale of
recreational cannabis have yet to be finalized, the federal regulation
and framework for licensed producers of cannabis has been in place and
highly effective for nearly three years.

The licensed production of cannabis is regulated under the Access to
Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). Under the current
system, companies seek licenses from Health Canada to produce and
distribute cannabis for medical purposes and must comply with a set of
strict rules to meet safety and quality standards and security
provisions. Only producers who are authorized to produce and sell to
the public may sell or provide to eligible persons.

As of date, it is only legal to produce cannabis under the ACMPR, and
it is highly probably that the current federal system of cannabis for
medical proposes will be used as a starting point for a new national
system for legalized and regulated cannabis.

With respect to the licensed producers, Health Canada officials
continue to conduct a thorough review of the information on
applications to ensure compliance with the regulations and associated
directives (ie. the security directive). Health Canada also continues
to work closely with producers once they are licensed as a means of
monitoring and ensuring compliance with the regulations and the
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, including through

This moratorium prevents an established, highly-regulated and secure
industry from developing in the County of Strathcona. By restricting
cannabis operations to industrial zoning, the County of Strathcona
will be alienating many medical, sustainable and micro-cannabis
operations from developing in Strathcona during the critical phase of
development for the industry. This moratorium does not reflect a
county that is open to agricultural diversity. Instead, it promotes
Strathcona County locally, nationally and internationally as a place
that is only open for one kind of cannabis business/investment, big
industrial business, excluding sustainable and micro-farmers alike.

If this moratorium passes, it will force numerous specialty
agricultural companies to seek surrounding counties, such as Beaver
County, Parkland County and Leduc County, who promote these types of
business in agriculture to do business there. This will mean 10s of
millions of dollars of development, tax dollars, jobs, and innovative
agricultural advancements out of Strathcona County.

As residents of Strathcona County, we are concerned with the long-term
repercussions of excluding our county from an important part of a
diverse industry that is poised and predicted to be the next "oil
boom" for Alberta. Consider the job creation, the increase and
diversification of agricultural industry, the opportunity for
sustainable farming practices and micro-producers, and the chance to
be at the forefront of a new, green economic boom.

Council will vote on this moratorium. Residents of Sherwood Park need
to voice their opinion to encourage and support innovation and
agricultural opportunity in Strathcona County, and make sure this
moratorium doesn't pass.

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Aaron Barr is a chief executive with Canadian Rockies Agricultural Inc., 
which has submitted a proposal for a medical marijuana growth facility 
to be built in rural Strathcona County.
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