Rob Brown has been an advocate for the benefits of cannabis for quite some time.
He admits that might not have always been the case in the rest of his family, noting he comes from a religious family heavily involved in the church.
“My father was totally, totally against the use of cannabis,” Brown said during an afternoon public information session concerning a proposed micro-cultivation cannabis site for South River. Brown, who is from Port de Grave and now lives in Bay Roberts, is one of four business partners for the venture. Town council approved the group’s business application during a meeting on April 3.
When Brown’s mother was diagnosed with cancer, the effects of chemotherapy were very hard on her. Brown said his mom was the type of person who believed trying cannabis would lead to more harmful and addictive drugs.
"I’m not here to get rich. I’m here to help people."
Brown’s mother battled cancer for eight years and is now deceased. Eventually, she called her son while he was living in Alberta and asked if he could help her get some cannabis.
“Now this is from an Anglican minister’s wife, a lady who grew up in the church, totally against marijuana, calling her son who she was totally against having anything to do with it, and saying, ‘son, I’m ready to try it.’”
Brown’s mother did eventually get some cannabis with her son’s help.
“From the minute that my mother took her first puff from that vape thing, her attitude against cannabis changed. I’m not here to get rich. I’m here to help people … I know a lot about cannabis and I know a lot about that plant, and I see the good in it. I don’t see the bad in it.”
Brown and his partners — Walter Hale, Darrell Percy and Ian Winters — hope to establish an operation that would potentially produce 800 kilograms annually of cannabis with a canopy.
Under a micro-cultivation licence, a producer is allowed to grow within a space of up to 200 square metres in either a greenhouse, warehouse or outdoors. Brown said the project in South River would employ upwards of 25 people.
“We figure that South River is a friendly community and they want to see things progress. They don’t want to stay in the stone age say, and they realize that once the business gets going and things progress, this is only going to be an offshoot for them. Stuff for their playground, picnic tables around the area. Donations we can make and community barbecues — good stewardship in the community.”
On site, the producers would also need to set up drying and storage facilities plus office space.
“Very strict security,” Brown said. “Fences, high-end steel doors, cement blocks around where you’re storing your product before we send it away. The measures that Health Canada has (placed) on the micro-cultivators is the same as they’ve put on the standard cultivators.”
Currently, the Town of South River is considering an application to rezone the property at 212 Salmon Cove Rd. from mixed development to light industrial. The project’s proponents took questions from residents during a pair of public information sessions held April 2. The town planner will now be tasked with writing up information about the rezoning for council to consider before holding a vote. This will trigger another public consultation. The entire process for rezoning could take several months in the event council decides to move forward with it.
“We figure that South River is a friendly community and they want to see things progress." — Brown
Brown believes there’s still a misconception publically despite its recent legalization that cannabis is a dirty drug. His hope is to produce strains of cannabis that would have medical value to the public.
“Myself, I suffer from severe arthritis, and I take CBD (cannabidiol) oil capsules for that,” he said. “That’s the only thing I take for my ailment. I’m not on any prescribed medication and I’ve been taking that for about 10 years now.”
Brown was pleased with the turnout for the public consultation sessions, believing they would help address any concerns some might have about his business venture.
“I feel we’ve changed many minds here today,” he said.