On the surface, Taber council’s unanimous passing of Bylaw 9-2014 at their Aug. 18 meeting looks just like any of a dozen other bylaws passed by Alberta towns, counties, and municipal districts in recent weeks as municipalities scramble to alter their development rules in order to have a say in the new crop of medical marijuana greenhouse facilities currently blooming around the country.
Unfortunately, in what appears to be an effort to clear the air of the stink of green bud, council seems to be filling the air with another instantly recognizable smell – that of NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard).
If council were simply seeking a way to have a hand in the development process when it comes to the acceptance of medical marijuana facilities in the community, that would be one thing.
But the underlying tone of the direction council has taken and with some of the language used during the bylaw process points more toward the idea that council is simply looking for a nice, legal way to rubber stamp a big fat NO! across any future medical marijuana applications.
In fact, administration freely pointed to the direction council’s moral compass was pointing on the matter when planning manager Cory Armfelt introduced the bylaw for first reading.
“The reason we’re bringing this forward is there’s absolutely no proposal for any medical marijuana facility in the community right now,” Armfelt said back in July. “However, as part of municipal best practice, we have been warned by other municipalities that we don’t want to be caught without any sort of regulation, and our legal professionals have indicated that you just can’t say no.
“You basically need to provide an opportunity to receive an application, and then you can certainly say no, once you have a framework in place to say no. But just simply saying we are not open for this type of business is open to challenge.”
In a radio interview last week with CBC’s Calgary Eyeopener, Coun. Randy Sparks expressed his opinion that should interest in a medical marijuana production facility exist in future, it should not be authorized within the boundaries of the municipality.
And while council certainly isn’t re-inventing the wheel by passing this bylaw, there is a striking contrast between what is being said in Taber and what is being said in other municipalities.
The Town of Stavely passed a bylaw similar in nature to the one in Taber, following a presentation from an industry looking to set up a production facility in the area.
However, town Chief Administrative Officer Clayton Gillespie indicated to local media that council was excited about the opportunity for a new local business in the area.
“Council liked what they heard and made the decision to start the process of amending our land-use bylaw to accommodate this type of facility in our industrial land-use district,” said Gillespie.
And Olds council has also been discussing the issue in past months, with a similar view to that seen in Stavely.
“From an economic development standpoint, it’s an interesting discussion to have,” said Norm McInnis, CAO of Olds.
On July 24, the Municipal District of Willow Creek went ahead and approved a development for a medical marijuana greenhouse to be located near the south end of the Town of Claresholm, so it’s pretty obvious where they stand on the subject, at least where development is concerned.
So what’s the issue? Are they afraid the town will be swamped with pot heads (something which may have already occurred), or that a security breach would send medical marijuana flooding into the streets of Taber?
Both of those scenarios are highly unlikely and well covered under federal guidelines.
Maybe they are worried about how the other municipalities will see us if we have a grow op in our back yard. If that’s the case, they should look at the federal landscape.
According to a poll conducted this year for the federal government, 71 per cent of Canadians would favour decriminalization of marijuana or all-out legalization.
Federally, voters will be able to decide for themselves in the next election with three clear choices:
The Harper PC’s are hard on drugs, the Trudeau Liberals would love to legalize, and, surprisingly, it’s Mulcair in the middle as the NDP would decriminalize it.
The next Prime Minister could very well be chosen by how much he or she loves Mary Jane. Could the same fate befall a future town council election?
But we’re not talking about recreational pot, and that’s something council should keep in mind.
We’re talking about a medical product that more than 40,000 Canadians have legal access to.
And for that reason, there is no reason why medical pot operations should be kept out of Taber’s back yard if developers come a-courting.
We have great soil and lots of sunshine; Taber could be a leader in the medical marijuana industry if it so desired.
That would mean jobs, new taxpaying businesses, and an overall groovy feeling from supplying soothing medicine to more than 40,000 Canadians suffering from:
ADD and ADHD, Alzheimer’s Disease, Anxiety, Arthritis, Auto Accident(s), Back & Neck Problems, Brain Injury, Cancer, Chronic Nausea, Chronic Pain, Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, Eating Disorder, Epilepsy, Fibromyalgia, Gastrointestinal Problems, HIV/AIDS, Head Injury, Hepatitis C, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Kidney Failure or Dialysis, Migraines, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscle Spasms, Muscular Dystrophy, Nausea, Parkinson’s Disease, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Severe Arthritis, Sleep Disorders, and Spinal Cord Injury or disease, according to the advocacy group MedicalMarijuana.ca.
Maybe council should consider changing the culture of Not In My Back Yard to MMIMBY – Medical Marijuana In My Back Yard.