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Richmound grow op still awaiting approval for licence

Posted on July 24, 2014 by Maple Creek

Plans are slowly moving forward with a proposed medical marijuana growing operation in Richmound.

Rick Manz recently submitted an application to the federal government to convert the former Richmound school into a legal grow op. He must now wait for approval to go ahead with the plan.

“We just got the application submitted not that long ago because we had to go through security clearance for each individual involved in the operation as well as a security plan from a security company,” Manz explained.

All that information was submitted with the application for a licence, but he said his security measures are in compliance with what is necessary. The application included information on the building itself, the security measures proposed and the background of the individuals to be employed by the operation.

Manz developed his business plan after it was announced changes were coming to Ottawa’s “pot policy” – changes that would take away the licenses that give patients the right to grow their own pot.

A public vote was held in Richmound in March to determine how many were in favour of a grow op being run in the former school building. About 54 per cent of residents voted in favour of it, and Manz intends to purchase the property from the Village of Richmound once a licence is granted.

The new government rules were to come into effect March 31. However, on March 21 a federal court judge granted a last-minute reprieve for medical marijuana users who argue they need to grow their own pot at home, concerned about the high cost of getting it from a licensed commercial producer. Home growers have said they can grow their own marijuana for mere pennies a gram, while official suppliers licensed by Health Canada charge between $3 and $14 a gram. An injunction was granted for those with a personal production licence to grow medical marijuana to continue doing so until the outcome of a trial to be held at a later date.

But Manz said the injunction doesn’t have him worried that it will negatively impact his business plan. There are currently about 37,000 medical marijuana patients in Canada, but the government reported that number could jump as high as 400,000 within a decade.

“They have to get their medicine from somewhere and it will be the licensed producers that provide that,” Manz said.

With the increasing numbers, commercially-licensed growers will be easier to police than home-growing operations, he added.

“They’ve had trouble in the past of course, with people growing their own and then selling their own product, so they have to police it more,” Manz stated. “The quality assurance part of the program is major. It’s like any other medicine. There can be recalls and you have to be provided with the proper ways of handling situations like that.”

Commercial growers help eliminate the “black market” aspect, he said.

Manz expects his application will be processed in three to four months, depending on the amount of applications the government has received. He has heard many applications have been made for commercial production, with about three-quarters of them being small basement operations.

If granted a licence, Manz’s operation would produce about 100 pounds of marijuana a month in the 20,000-square-foot building.

“It’s looking very positive and I’m under a good impression of it,” he said. “I feel good about it.”

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