Editor, The News:
Mayor and council, the economic implications of encouraging the medical cannabis industry in Maple Ridge are huge.
The industry creates well-paying, sustainable jobs on a small footprint, pays taxes, employs locals and consumes goods and services from surrounding businesses.
This is exactly the type of business activity council has been dreaming of and talking about for as long as I can remember.
But what I see council doing is pushing the industry away by making it difficult to site them where they would be easiest to service and made secure.
The most difficult place to do either is on isolated rural property.
There are a lot of jobs at stake and what I see is a sense of distaste coming from council for what is an emerging industry that helps relieve the suffering of many sick people and can potentially create many new jobs in Maple Ridge.
I say potentially because those jobs could easily go to other communities.
The easiest area to supply servicing is in industrial/urban areas.
Security is a matter of building design and supervision and with regulation can be accomplished in most areas.
Dispensing isn’t a proposed use so extended setbacks, even around schools, aren’t, in reality, needed.
There might be a case for increased setbacks with field-grown medicinal cannabis, although a stout fence, razor wire, video surveillance and sensors should be enough to keep out even the most determined school children and, of course, criminals.
Building inspections and monitoring of the grow systems would keep the buildings healthy and costs would be recovered through fees, permits and taxes.
This industry could be a solid revenue generator for the district.
Regulations and standards are the details that will emerge as the process matures. It makes sense that municipalities take on the building inspection role for all applications, urban or rural.
I heard a suggestion that there be a 800-metre separation between medical grows, like they were gas stations.
Obviously, security would be easier to apply if medical grows were encouraged to cluster.
To suggest a large separation shows a lack of understanding of the positive financial benefits this industry represents.
There is also a great need for a federal research facility to explore the medical applications of cannabis, and I don’t need to tell you how many positive effects we would enjoy if that happened in Maple Ridge.
Instead of resisting this emerging industry, I would like to see council pursue it and encourage its establishment in Maple Ridge. We need the jobs and increased tax base.
Enough talk, let’s see some action.