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St. Anthony mayor weighs pro and cons of marijuana plan

St. Anthony Mayor Desmond McDonald is suggesting Newfoundland and Labrador's marijuana production facility should be located in a rural area. - File photo
St. Anthony Mayor Desmond McDonald is suggesting Newfoundland and Labrador's marijuana production facility should be located in a rural area. - File photo

McDonald believes production facility should be located in rural area

ST. ANTHONY, NL. – St. Anthony Mayor Desmond McDonald believes the province’s marijuana production facility should be located in a rural area.
He also sees opportunities for business with the province’s plan to legalize marijuana.

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced on Dec. 8 that it has signed a deal to lock in a supply of cannabis and cannabis products from Canadian company Canopy Growth, ahead of the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in July 2018.

The deal included a commitment to build a new marijuana production facility in the province – providing an estimated 145 jobs by the time it is up and running in 2019.

The location for the facility has yet to be decided but it is expected to have the capacity to produce 12,000 kilograms of cannabis products annually.

McDonald believes the production facility would have a greater, more positive impact if it were located in a rural area rather than an urban centre, like St. John’s.

He says there are number of rural communities in Newfoundland and Labrador looking for employment opportunities, and this would have been an opportunity to create jobs in those communities.

“Out by the St. Anthony airport, stick up a $55-million facility, pull your employees from all the outlying communities,” McDonald suggested as an example.

He doesn’t believe transportation would be an issue.

“I know (St. John’s) is the biggest center on the island but a lot of outlying communities need employment these days,” he said.

As mayor and St. Anthony and Area Chamber of Commerce president, McDonald sees marijuana legalization as an opportunity for local businesses to make money.

Throughout the province and on the Northern Peninsula, he anticipates many businesses will apply to be retailers.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of interest in St. Anthony and I think you’ll see a dispensary pop up in every major center, if not in every major community on the Northern Peninsula,” said McDonald.

He added he was glad to hear the federal government announce that 75 per cent of marijuana tax revenue will go to the provinces.

“That’s a good thing in terms of the provinces having a few more dollars to invest in infrastructure,” he said. “And hopefully municipalities can avail of those extra funds.”

stephen.roberts@northernpen.ca

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