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Council divided over medical marijuana

marijuanaBy Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The possibility of expanding the scope of Oshawa’s medical marijuana working group was back on the table at the latest regular meeting of council and the topic became one of the first major divisions seen inside the chambers in 2016.

Following a recommendation from the Oshawa Accessibility Advisory Committee (OAAC) to expand the scope of the Medical Marijuana Working Group so that it could be included in discussions around facilities, zoning or planning for medical marijuana related developments, the city’s development services committed voted to deny the recommendation. That vote carried on a 3-2 vote with Councillor Dan Carter and Mayor John Henry opposed. Councillors Nester Pidwerbecki, Doug Sanders and Bob Chapman voted in favour of it.

Chapman, a vocal opponent at committee, took the time to reiterate his concerns at council.

Stating that while the working group does provide a valuable service to the committee, city planners already approach experts and stakeholders involved in these developments.

Councillor Nancy Diamond said the same.

“That’s the job of our staff, to work within the law, to work within the official plan…to advise council,” she said.

Also at issue was the fact that the recommendation seemed to add another level of red tape to development process. However, Marko Ivancicevic, chair of the medical marijuana working group, says that most certainly was not the case.

“It gives a foundation where we have that more concrete ability to advise council and advise staff or again, be included in the process,” he says.

Ivancicevic received support from Councillors Amy McQuaid-England and John Shields, who said he simply did not see the extra layer of red tape.

“I simply don’t think that’s true,” Shields said, adding that utilizing the expertise of the group would be a valuable asset. McQuaid-England agreed.

“I think that we should be respectful of what the medical marijuana working group has put forward in terms of their expertise,” she said.

The recommendation was accepted, and the expansion denied with Councillors John Neal, Rick Kerr, Diamond and Chapman voting in favour and Shields and England being joined by Mayor Henry in opposition.