CLARENVILLE, N.L. — Clarenville businessman Ralph Duffitt has filed an application with Health Canada for a license to grow and produce medical marijuana in Clarenville, according to the Clarenville Town Council.
The proposed facility will be located at 72 Marine Drive, the current location of My Rec Room, a bar owned and operated by Duffitt.
The Marine Drive location is also one of two Clarenville locations on the provincial governments list of approved cannabis retailers — the other is Esso on Memorial Drive.
Clarenville CAO David Harris explained that part of the application process for a medical cannabis production license is approval from the town to use the proposed facility.
The town plans to publish a discretionary notice in The Packet in the coming weeks, asking the public to step forward with any concerns they may have.
If residents bring their concerns forwards, Public Works will consider them and make a recommendation to council.
“You have to hear what people have to say,” Mayor Frazer Russell told The Packet.
Russell noted the facilities nearness to schools or churches, potential increases in traffic volumes, and a decrease in nearby property values as viable concerns residents might have.
Russell summarized that councils goal is to make sure the business would cause no detriment to any personal or public property.
If there are no objections received from the public, and allowing the facility meets the approval of Government Services and Health Canada and the Town’s regulations, it will be approved.
Duffitt has also submitted to The Packet a Public Notice stating that 72 Marine Drive has qualified as cannabis retailer.
As noted in the public notice, this is a requirement by the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation.
Ralph Duffitt did not yet wish to speak to The Packet as to the details of the proposed facility.
How do town council’s deal with weed?
The federal government’s plan to legalize marijuana on July 1 means municipal governments are finding themselves treading on new ground in unfamiliar territory.
“A lot of municipalities don’t have a lot of information,” summarized Clarenville Mayor Frazer Russell.
Russell says a public consultation regarding cannabis is still in the works, and is necessary as there is much misconception about the legalization of cannabis.
In fact, Russell expressed concern with the nearness of the July 1 legalization date.
“It’s pretty revolutionary… of course we have some concerns,” he said. “We want to make sure it is done right, and unfortunately, July 1 is pretty close.
“My fondest wish would be that the whole thing be delayed to allow more time for the public to get a greater understanding of what’s going on here, and for municipalities to deal with it properly.”
When Duffitt first approached the Clarenville Town Council some months back about the proposed medical facility, there was some confusion as to how to classify the business.
“We know nothing about cannabis, or medical cannabis, or grow ops in general. There’s nothing in our development regulations which would tell us, what zones would be appropriate for that type of facility,” explained Clarenville CAO David Harris.
The town hired a planner, who recommend that the town classify growth facility as urban agriculture.
However, after discussions with the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment, the town says that the proposed medical cannabis facility has been found, upon further review, to fit the town’s regulation of ‘light industry’, and not urban agriculture.
Councillors voted unanimously at the May 8 meeting to approve the medical cannabis facility as a “light industry” and to approve the application — subject to Health Canada approval and the reaction to the public discretionary note.