The proposed medical cannabis grow-op in Decker Lake raises some important issues of accountability that the company, Nations Cannabis, should address. But the project could also be a good source of sustainable jobs for the community, and could be a driver of economic and social development.
Area residents are right to demand guarantees that the Nations Cannabis facility doesn’t reek of weed or suck dry the wells. Corporations routinely implement their business plans with reckless disregard of the consequences for ordinary people, and it makes sense to ask them to be accountable to the communities where they do business.
This issue of accountability is compounded by the fact that Decker Lake residents can’t vote in elections for Burns Lake councillors, whose decisions affect the outcome of the grow-op proposal.
Nations Cannabis has promised that the facility would be smell-free and that its planned operation would use rainwater and a sealed system that would limit water consumption. Still, it would be a gesture of good faith for the company to release more details about its plans, including estimates about expected water usage.
It’s understandable that Decker Lake residents also want assurances about security at the facility, since it would be growing a commodity traditionally associated with organized crime. But one of the brilliant things about the legalization of marijuana is that pot will lose that special premium unique to illicit products, making it less interesting to gangs. And federal security requirements for grow-ops are stringent.
Less compelling is the concern that a pot-growing operation would encourage or condone drug use among young people. It’s hard to imagine this kind of worry directed toward a brewery or distillery — despite the obviously harmful effects of drinking. People wanting to protect their children from this kind of drug should provide them with accurate information about the risks associated with pot usage — such as depression and memory impairment— and engage in open discussion.
In a recent presentation at Burns Lake village council, Nations Cannabis cited a study indicating a 23 percent drop in hospitalizations related to opioid abuse in states permitting medicinal marijuana. The company has indicated that it wants to make medicinal marijuana accessible to Indigenous people struggling with addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder. This is well worth considering.
And the prospect of 40 or more new full-time jobs in this area is an important consideration. A business of this size would mean workers spending more money in the local economy, a driver for local development. And the company has pledged to put seven percent of profits aside for local efforts in fields like education and health care. It’s worth giving this kind of business a shot.