City prohibits marijuana, but not medical clinic
Selling marijuana for medical or recreational purposes has been temporarily banned from the city — yet a cannabis clinic that would provide service to North Coast communities still has every intention of moving forward with opening its doors within the year.
On Feb. 6, after a public hearing that drew only three vocal residents, Prince Rupert city council passed the zoning bylaw amendment that prohibits the commercial sale and production of marijuana until Jan. 1, 2018.
This temporary prohibition, however, does not block the Medical Cannabis Resource Centre Inc. (MCRCI) from opening a site in the city. There was some confusion raised during the public hearing over whether or not the bylaw would allow for a medical marijuana dispensary that would offer support and information to users, and a variety of marijuana products on site rather than ordering online.
Jennifer Nelson brought the question to council, as she has been constructing a business plan for a tea and medical marijuana dispensary. She wanted council to clarify the difference between the recreational industry and the medical marijuana industry.
“If you can keep in mind that easy access for the medical marijuana patients its almost non-existent now so there is an actual need to bring forward something that is going to be functional,” Nelson said.
Then in the proceeding council session, councillor Joy Thorkelson suggested to amend the bylaw to allow medical marijuana clinics to distribute marijuana products.
“Is there such thing as a medical dispensary that’s legal?” Mayor Lee Brain said in response.
There isn’t, however the MCRCI works around the legal implications of a dispensary by offering the services and information without distributing cannabis.
Federal law requires patients to have a written approval, basically a prescription, from a health practitioner in order to access medical marijuana through one of the licenced producers vetted by Health Canada. The product is available to order online and is delivered through the mail. Patients are also allowed to grow marijuana for their own personal use.
In November, MCRCI made their interest in setting up a clinic in Prince Rupert known. For the past six years, the Vancouver-based company has been in the business of being a medical cannabis middle-man, linking patients to medical marijuana with physicians willing to provide a prescription if the patient qualifies for it.
The company had connected with a physician in Prince Rupert who was willing to work with them, and they determined this would be their first northern B.C. site. As the months slipped by, there was no word from the company until after last week’s council session.
Founder and president of MCRCI Terry Roycroft clarified that they had been waiting to confirm with the physician in Prince Rupert as to whether or not he could work with them, but due to family issues he had to return to his home country.
“We’ve lost our doctor but not all is lost. We’re going to do one of our remote information centres,” Roycroft said. “In lieu of having an in-house physician we’ll have a location that will allow people to come in, get information and education about it. They’ll be connected with a physician, and they’ll be able to do Skype appointment.”
Roycroft spoke with Prince Rupert’s mayor this month and explained how their clinic works.
“After my conversation with him, he’s on board, he understands that we’re the real deal.”
Once MCRCI opens its new clinic, possibly sometime in the spring or summer, Roycroft said he plans to come to the city and host a town hall meeting to answer questions about how their cannabis clinic works.