A new medicinal marijuana processing operation will be setting up in Pitt Meadows.
There was no opposition to Pinecone Products’ proposal for the Golden Ears Business Park at a public hearing on Tuesday night, and Pitt Meadows council members spoke in glowing terms about the facility before giving it the go-ahead.
Kate Zanon explained Pinecone Products will process cannabis into other products at the lab.
“This is strictly a processing facility, of actually getting cultivated marijuana oil and turning it into other products,” said Zanon, adding there will be no sales from the facility, and all of the product is bound for licenced producers.
She noted council’s approval does not rezone the entire business park, but allows a site-specific rezoning.
Mayor John Becker illustrated the many uses for marijuana by bringing a box of Hemp Hearts granola to the council meeting.
“You can’t light it. I tried for an hour,” he said, getting a laugh from the audience.
“This is a new, green and clean industry, and the opportunity to welcome high tech and well paying jobs to Pitt Meadows is one we should embrace,” said Becker.
There have been a lot of requests to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Pitt Meadows, he added, but so far none have been permitted.
“The folks have been told to wait, until the feds and the province figure out how they’re going to manage this on the ground, with the support of the municipalities,” Becker said.
Pitt Meadows council is not going to “rush into” permitting medicinal or recreational marijuana operations, he said.
“We will be slow to follow.”
Councillors said they had concerns about security and pot odours, but were satisified after touring the company’s operations in Maple Ridge.
Reid Parr, co-founder and chief financial officer of Ascent Industries, noted it is the parent company for both Agrima Botanicals in Maple Ridge and Pinecone in Pitt Meadows.
Agrima, established in 2013, has a research agreement with SFU’s biological sciences department, and is a provider of medical cannabis products. The company has been awarded over $450,000 in government grants to date for cannabis research, he told council.
Agrima has 75 employees in Maple Ridge, and 28 have university degrees, college diplomas or red seal certifiicates.
He said Pinecone is a ready-to-build, secure, custom research and processing facility. It will have up to 40 highly skilled workers at the Pitt Meadows location once fully operational.
He added there is live, verified monitoring of the site with 100 per cent camera coverage, and a custom three-stage air filtration system.
Four different councillors spoke about touring the Agrima facilities in Maple Ridge, and their concerns were addressed.
Coun. Bill Dingwall had originally opposed moving the proposal to public hearing, arguing the city should wait for senior government direction around marijuana. But since then, he received more information at the UBCM meeting, and he and Coun. Tracy Miyashita toured the site and were impressed.
“That filtration system worked really well.I was really impressed,” he said.
Dingwall said he still has concerns about legalization, around grow rips, organized crime involvement, driving while impaired by marijuana and the use by youth.
“But those are public policy pieces that will flow,” he said.
Couns. Janis Elkerton and Mike Stark toured the facility months earlier, and also supported the company’s plan in Pitt Meadows.
Patricia Gordon, a resident who has been a medical lab scientist for 35 years in a health care profession, asked if Pinecone will need to be back before council if it decides to change its operations, such as offering retail marijuana sales, and was told that would need to be approved by council.
She said that would comfort people who think “this is the thin edge of the wedge.”