Medical marijuana facility could be good medicine
Wednesday, Apr 09, 2014 06:00 am
St. Albert city council landed on its feet like a surprised but agile cat Monday night after the sudden revelation that a medical marijuana facility application may be coming to the city.
While councillors thoughtfully debated the issue and ultimately decided to decline applications until they can further debate land use bylaw tweaks to further control such facilities, the city already has a long history of facilities containing legal, yet dangerous, substances.
The biggest example is the liquor control board’s warehouse in Campbell Business Park. While alcohol is obviously legal, the warehouse is hardly a public place and much thought and planning has gone into making the facility safe and secure.
Another example is a substance located in some, if not all, local pharmacies that is technically legal yet quite strictly-controlled. Most residents don’t think about it much, but the opiate oxycodone, derived from the same material that provides heroin, is a legal prescription drug, but isn’t just handed out willy-nilly to anyone who wants it. It’s kept securely locked away and treated with care by pharmacists.
Those who think crime won’t be attracted to a marijuana facility are kidding themselves. Ask any liquor store owner why his business has bars on all windows. The answer’s obvious.
While a medical marijuana facility will store, process or ship what amounts to a legal substance, the two examples above clearly show that even legal substances that have the potential for abuse must be handled carefully. So it must be with medical marijuana if city council is pondering changes that address that type of facility directly, especially in a community judged as safe and secure as St. Albert.
If marijuana is stored on-site, obviously break ins by some less savoury individuals will always be a risk. The liquor storage facility in Campbell Business Park is an excellent example of security. Well-lit, well-fenced, few if any windows within easy reach and a relatively pedestrian appearance for such a mammoth facility all help prevent vulnerability to crime.
Most criminals would likely come from out of town and from St. Albert’s bigger neighbour across the Henday. Intentionally keeping the marijuana facility low-key would mean that most people wouldn’t even know the facility to see it.
The marijuana facility could also address the city’s pesky tax diversification problem, as anything zoned light industrial will likely pay an attractive tax bill every year.
And, as Coun. Tim Osborne pointed out Monday night, add another leaf to the cap of the Botanical Arts City.