FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Giving Tree appeared in front of Fort St. John City Council on Monday to show Council their plan when it comes to bringing a medical marijuana facility to Fort St. John.
The team currently consists of three members: Marlo Andrews, Cole Andrews and Dan Daley. All were present on Monday.
Cole Andrews said at the start of the presentation that there were many reasons he wants to open The Giving Tree in Fort St. John.
“What excites me about The Giving Tree is the chance to open a small business in Fort St. John, to employ local residents and to give back to the Fort St. John economy.”
The group highlighted the current crisis of illicit drug overdose deaths in B.C. Fentanyl and carfentanil are starting to pop up in more communities on a daily basis.
“We want to work with City Council and maintain transparency with the RCMP while working on a solution for the interim period.”
The Giving Tree says their mission state is ‘to provide Fort St. John residents with a safe and effective alternative medicine’.
But Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman says that they don’t plan on making a decision about dispensaries in the community until the federal government has legalized marijuana.
“When the federal government makes its move, then we will look at it but right now it is still illegal and so we won’t be doing anything.”
Andrews then asked if Council was aware that other cities similar to Fort St. John have created bylaws and opened dispensaries, he specifically referenced Port Alberni’s bylaws. Ackerman stated that she was aware that some had been opened and then shut down.
When asked what Council’s opinion would be on dispensaries and Ackerman said that they don’t currently have a position.
“Council doesn’t have an opinion yet because we have not looked at it and we will look at it once it is legalized.
In the province of British Columbia, we abide by the 2 legislations that govern local government. We have the community charter and the local government act and so we can’t do anything that is still considered illegal by any level of government that is senior to us so when the federal government and the provincial government lay out the parameters about how this moves forward in this nation, then we will move forward.”
The cities that The Giving Tree listed, which currently contain bylaw information for a medical marijuana dispensary were the City of Nelson, Squamish, Port Alberni, Nanimo.
Fort St. John City Manager, Dianne Hunter, also echoed Mayor Lori Ackerman’s comments when it comes to a medical marijuana dispensary in the community.
Cole Andrews says they want to work with City Hall and staff on coming up with a plan.
“I do appreciate City Council and staff and I do appreciate the job that they do. I know that they want to do what is best for the community and once they realize that they have the ability to do something, I think they will do it.”
He says that they have since met with City staff and the meeting was productive and they believe that they will come to a solution.
In the proposal that The Giving Tree gave to Council, they laid out how they would distribute medical marijuana and the steps they would take to ensure it is a safe option for those that need it.
The Giving Tree has listed four key points when it comes to a harm reduction plan.
- Prevent sales to minors
- Two pieces of ID would be required to enter the store
- Willing to cooperate with the RCMP as to who they can sell to
- Members will sign forms prohibiting them from reselling the product
- Prevent the accidental consumption of adulterants
- All product sold at The Giving Tree would be sourced from licensed growers
- All product sold at The Giving Tree will have strain name, price, amounts of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD)
- Patients will be assured that the product they are purchasing is safe and has not been contaminated with other drugs or chemicals
- Block criminal element from profit
- The Giving Tree will decrease black market sales in Fort St. John
- Patients will no longer have to deal with the criminal element while purchasing product
- The Giving Tree will work with the RCMP to provide information on any suspicious activity
- The Giving Tree will offer full disclosure of business practices to the RCMP
- Prevent sales to problematic users
- The Giving Tree will screen patients to ensure they don’t have a medical history that conflicts with the medical use of marijuana
- Memberships will only be issued to patients who meet prescreening criteria
The Giving Tree also says they will help identify systems and recommend the appropriate medicine for their condition. Once a patient and their symptoms have been identified and deemed treatable with medical marijuana, they will be issued a membership card. The group has listed the following conditions that memberships would be issued for:
- Crohn’s Disease
- Sleep disorders
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Neuropathic Pain
- Irritable Bowel
- Cancer Remission
The group is identifying community mindfulness as a crucial part of The Giving Tree, they have listed the following areas as the most important:
- Protect young Fort St. John residents by keeping cannabis out of the hands of children and youth
- Keep profits out of the hands of criminals, particularly organized crime
- To reduce burdens on police and the justice system associated with simple possession of cannabis offences
- To benefit the community by contributing to charity campaigns
- To create job oppurtunities within the community
- Ensure residents are well-informed through sustained and appropriate public health campaigns and for youth in particular, ensuring that risks are understood
- Establish and enforce a strict system of production, distribution and sales, taking a public health approach with regulation of quality and safety (child proof packaging, warning labels)
There were a total of 914 deaths in B.C. in 2016 from illicit drug overdoses. Northeast B.C. saw 17 deaths in 2016 compared to 4 in 2015.