City weeds out second medical pot shop idea

A second party has expressed interest in opening up a medical marijuana dispensary in Port Alberni.

A second party has expressed interest in opening up a medical marijuana dispensary in Port Alberni.

City Councillor Cindy Solda said she now knows of two parties interested in setting up such a business in the city. Last month, Dion Hopkins made public his plans to open a medical marijuana distribution and research  facility in Port Alberni as commercial production of medical marijuana will become legal next year. Hopkins has plans to operate a commercial grow-op somewhere in the Alberni Valley.

On Sept. 30, there will be a public hearing  to rezone the former Stephen’s Sheet Metal building on Bute Street, where Hopkins plans to base his business.

Solda would not comment on who the second party is but she has reservations about the whole thing.

She said she is the “lone sheep” on council who isn’t crazy about this kind of business within the city. “I’m mixed,” she said, explaining her knowledge of medical marijuana and how the dispensary will run is limited.

“There was a time when we decided liquor was not going to be available to public, that Rock and Roll is something we shouldn’t dance to, so I wonder if it’s because of age.”

One of Solda’s major concern is security of the grow-op and the distribution facility as she does not want to see taxpayers on the hook for policing and inspection. She also questioned how much more policing will be required as marijuana usage does impair drivers and people should not have to be exposed to second-hand marijuana smoke.

“Marijuana comes in a pill form as well,” Solda explained. “I don’t think there is a breathalyzer test for marijuana. I don’t think this whole thing has been thought out.”

Mayor John Douglas said he was not aware of a second party looking to set up a medical marijuana dispensary in the city and referred questions about it to the city manager.