Vote on zoning rules for legal medical marijuana operations turns into an ethical debate

By Mitchell Peters
Feb. 11, 2014

Charlottetown has set zoning regulations on where legal medical marijuana growing facilities can locate within the city.
On Feb. 10, council voted 8-2 to amend the city’s bylaw, so that type of facility is now limited to the West Royalty Industrial park.
Councillors Mitch Tweel and Danny Redmond opposed the motion. They were concerned about the type of message this might send to the public, and that set off a heated off-topic debate.
Tweel wanted to know what the rush was. He felt the city was addressing something that has does not yet need to be regulated. Tweel also wanted to know what the police thought.
“Have we heard from the RCMP? Have we heard from the Charlottetown police?”
Tweel said even at the last hearing he didn’t hear anyone speak in favour of the motion.
Redmond said he would be voting against the motion as well.
“I’ve never smoked marijuana in my life,” he said.
Coun. Rob Lantz said he felt some of the councillors were using all of the attention to steer the motion into an unrelated debate. Lantz said this should not be a question of supporting marijuana or not. It’s a matter of choosing to regulate and otherwise unregulated business. The issue of legality was already decided by our federal government, said Lantz.
Just as we have rules about where a car wash or a drive through go, we should limit where this type of facility can go, he said. Changing this by-law stops this type of facility from setting up in residential areas.
Many other municipalities in the area have chosen to do the same thing, though there are only a few of such facilities in Canada change is on the way, said Lantz.
“We cannot legally prohibit a legal facility of any kind, no more than we can prohibit dry cleaners from being in the city.”
Currently medical marijuana users can grow the drug in their own home. It is suspected that a lot of marijuana is making its way onto the black markets. Having such a facility will allow for regulated growth and a standardized product.
“I think that that federal government is probably doing the right thing,” said Lantz.