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Cannabis (marijuana) is still illegal in Canada and that includes Ontario.  But one of the big problems in Ontario is the grow ops that use farmland or interiors of rented houses.  These grow ops will often also steal power by bypassing the hydro meter.  Police don't seem to care much about small quantities and I've been told that its use is common.  Many of these users claim they need it for medicinal purposes and in fact have a Doctor's prescription. They don't possess more than they use themselves (many grow it themselves) and Police leave them alone.  The news is that this practice is increasing - there are now companies that have a licence from Health Canada to manufacture cannabis based drugs that can be had by prescription.  And one of them is planning to come to Cobourg.

This happened because the government (of Canada) was in the business of producing / distributing medical pot and wanted out!  They got into the business in 2001 when Health Canada said that pot was OK for medicinal purposes.  But now, under new rules finalized in June (2013), marijuana users as of March 31 (2014) will no longer be able to grow the weed themselves. The period between October 1 and then will be a transition period - growing for one's own use will be prohibited March 31. There are currently approx. 30,000 people licensed to grow pot for their own use but this will stop with the new regulations.  Instead, users must buy it from licensed growers who meet a variety of conditions - ranging from security of the property to concerns about quality.

According to Valerie MacDonald at Northumberland Today, Cobourg resident and real estate broker Michal Hasek is part of group planning to jump on this bandwagon and use the former Kraft Factory.

They will grow the pot indoors, then use it to manufacture drugs that will be sold by prescription in Ontario (and other) drug stores.  Unlike Tweed in Smith Falls (CTV News), they might play it quietly and call themselves "pharmaceutical manufacturers".  The big player is Prairie Plant Systems Inc. of Saskatchewan and its subsidiary CanniMed Ltd who has had the monopoly since 2001.  No doubt they will also expand to fend off the competition.

The downside according to existing users is that the price they will have to pay will go up so they could end up buying from the criminal dealers - (CTV News).  However, Sophie Galarneau of Health Canada says "We're fairly confident that we'll have a healthy commercial industry in time," and that competition will help keep prices in check. "We expect that over time, prices will be driven down by the free market," she said. "The lower price range will likely be around $3 a gram. ... It's hard to predict."

In general Canadians don't have a problem with decriminalizing marijuana.  To most people, pot does not seem a whole lot different to alcohol - so why is it not treated the same?  Regulate, tax and manage it and it won't be a doorway to hard drugs. According to Wikipedia, several polls since 2003 have found that a majority of Canadians agreed with the statement, "The use of marijuana should be decriminalized". A poll was conducted in 2013 by Forum Research Inc. with 36% for outright legalization and 34% for decriminalization.

In addition to the new regulations, another reason for the sudden attention is no doubt because the Liberal party added legalization and regulation of marijuana to its policies in January 2012 and their leader, Justin Trudeau, recently supported the idea and said that he had smoked it - even before 2001 when it was clearly illegal.

The Conservatives are against the idea but have not spelled out any convincing reasons why.  Seems that 70% of Canadians disagree with them.  So far they have not interfered with Health Canada on this issue.  Maybe they like the tighter regulations.

According to Valerie MacDonald at Northumberland Today, Michal Hasek says that his factory:

 "...has a number of strict restrictions and they include regulations that govern security‚Ķ. There's 40 pages of them," Hasek said.

It would be a sophisticated scientific operation and the group is looking for botanists and chemists. Hasek anticipates an investment in the ballpark of $1 million to get a facility up and running and if Cobourg is chosen, and licensed by the government, he predicted plants will be growing by this coming March.

"I'm a venture capitalist," Hasek said, with investments in software in Brazil and mining in Sudbury (WSN Inc.) "The return is very good (with medical marijuana plants) and the growth potential is right off the map."

The federal government predicts huge growth in the number of people using marijuana to control pain and other health issues.

Hasek, who has previously used similar synthetic canabinoids, cesamet, for a former health condition now in remission, knows firsthand the pain relief that such substances can provide.

Overall costs and funding will determine which location or locations will proceed but Hasek said he is confident an application would be made to the federal government within two to four weeks.

"We could become a major employer for the region," Hasek said.

Update January 9, 2015

A report in Northumberland News says that the proposed Marijuana Factory at the Kraft building is ready for Health Canada inspection.  The company planning the operation is Whitby based FV Pharma  - their CEO is Thomas Fairfull.  In statements to Northumberland News Mr Fairfull said:

"…renovations inside a 25,000-square-foot section of the William Street plant were undertaken in November 2013.

"We will just be opening the first footprint of the facility up and we're planning to expand to produce medical marijuana," he said.

He added the facility is now ready to be inspected by Health Canada, would create 20 jobs and has been designed with future expansion in mind. 

"Basically we have built it out in compliance with the application and with the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations that the government requested," Mr. Fairfull added. "We surpassed the standard that we needed for Cobourg, so once the inspection takes place we should be in production within 90 days."

"This was a food facility so there are a lot of people who worked here and it's a rural area with farming so it was attractive. It's also just far enough from Toronto and it was a good place to locate because Cobourg is right on the Hwy. 401 corridor. "


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