MedCan Solutions Inc. cleared its first hurdle at city council on Monday to develop a medical marijuana facility in Red Deer — next comes its application to Health Canada.
“It’s about an 18 to 24-month process historically with Health Canada in terms of approvals. There are different levels of approval through the application,” said Wendy Konschuk, co-founder and director of MedCan Solutions, on Tuesday.
She said nothing has been submitted to Health Canada yet as MedCan was waiting for city council to approve a land use bylaw amendment to allow the proposed facility in a business industrial-zoned area.
MedCan Solutions Inc. intends to use a 35,000-square-foot vacant building in the West QE2 Business Park to grow, process, package, label, store and transport marijuana. There were would no retail sales, signs or advertising at the site.
City council initially rejected the application in July because of questions about mostly odour and security.
Konschuk said MedCan will work on development permits with the city and its application to Health Canada at the same time.
She hoped renovations on the building could begin in six months, but right now it was difficult to predict.
MedCan changed its plans for the Red Deer facility since July and will now focus more on research and less on production.
“We have decided we can reduce our actual production and do testing on all sorts of levels inside that facility.”
A larger production facility will be located elsewhere in Alberta.
At Monday’s public hearing on the project, odour was a big fear for neighbouring business and land owners.
She said misconceptions about medical marijuana production come from issues in the United States were regulations aren’t as stringent.
“Everyone has kind of got in their minds it’s going to stink. That’s a hard one to steer them away from and convince them otherwise until you’re producing,” Konschuk said.
She said odour would not be a problem even if production was the main purpose of the facility. MedCan plans to go over and above what Health Canada requires with both a High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance (HEPA) and carbon filter installed. The federal government only requires the HEPA filter.
But switching the focus to research likely helped secure approval from the city, she said.
One issue discussed at the hearing that surprised Konschuk was the frustration among business owners about crime in the business park located on the west side of Hwy 2.
“That was actually really eye-opening for us. Some of the businesses were happy to have an opportunity to talk about it and have the City of Red Deer recognize that they’re facing some real issues.”
She said filling one of the many empty buildings out there and bringing more workers to the area will have a positive impact. MedCan itself will have a multi-layer security system.
“We’re really looking forward to working with the businesses, and surrounding business, to see what we can all do together to help end that.”