Medical marijuana company takes over Vancouver rooftop garden
Affinor to revive dream of downtown Vancouver rooftop greenhouse but say they won’t be growing pot
A Montreal-based medical marijuana company plans to revive a controversial rooftop greenhouse project that drowned in debt after being embraced by Vancouver city hall.
Affinor says it has closed a deal to purchase technology and assets which once belonged to Alterrus. The company says it has also secured the same cut-rate deal to lease the top floor of a city-owned parking garage.
But spokesperson Nick Brusatore says Affinor plans to grow baby greens and strawberries, not medical marijuana.
“The reality is we’re not planning on doing marijuana on the roof, unless the city comes to us and says ‘Hey, we want you to grow marijuana here,'” he says. “I will do and accommodate the city of Vancouver any way that they wish.”
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson attended the unveiling of Alterrus’ first rooftop crop in November 2012. But financial problems forced the publicly-traded company into bankruptcy earlier this year. Brusatore says Affinor has much deeper pockets.
Alterrus had a 10-year deal with the city to lease the top floor of a parkade in the 500 block of Richards for $4800 a month. Brusatore says the new owners have the same agreement.
Affinor plans to expand the greenhouse operations, using the old equipment to grow baby greens and new structures to cultivate strawberries. Brusatore says the company has met with city staff. He hopes to have the greenhouses back in operation within two months.
Affinor also recently acquired Vertical Designs Ltd, a company which specializes in vertical farming. Brusatore says the company wants to market that technology, along with Alterrus’ old greenhouse patents, to capture the market for medical marijuana cultivation.
“We are going to licence that technology out for the marijuana markets throughout North America,” he says. “Affinor grows plants. We are going to be the best in the world at creating the best plant tissue on a mass production scale.”
No one from the City of Vancouver could be reached for comment.
Marijuana advocates kick off 2016 initiative
Supporters of an effort to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016 have filed paperwork with state elections officials, allowing them to raise money to campaign for the citizens initiative.
The Marijuana Policy Project of Arizona initiative almost certainly will be modeled after the voter-approved marijuana program in Colorado. For about a year, Colorado has allowed adults 21 and older to use and possess up to an ounce of pot, which is purchased at one of the many marijuana shops that are allowed under the law.
Andrew Myers, who is affiliated with the initiative, said Monday the group will bring together a “diverse coalition” to help draft the initiative’s language, adding that marijuana advocates are closely watching Colorado’s program to determine what should be replicated in Arizona — and what should be avoided.
Voters passed Colorado’s Amendment 64 in 22 with 55 percent of the vote, driven by a campaign that pitched marijuana as a less-harmful alternative to alcohol. The amendment attracted young and new voters while tapping into the electorate’s libertarian streak.
Representatives of the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates for marijuana legalization and regulation, said it will pursue full legalization in Arizona in 2016 because of marijuana-legalization efforts are more successful during presidential elections, which draw more voters to the polls.
Marijuana is legal for about 50,000 Arizonans, but only for medicinal purposes. Patients must get recommendations from a physician and obtain a card from state health officials under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act approved by voters in 2010.
Any effort towards full legalization in Arizona is expected to be met with stiff opposition from law enforcement officials, and possibly medical-marijuana dispensary owners who have spent the past few years building their businesses around the medicinal model.
Marijuana legalization effort begins in California
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A national marijuana advocacy group took steps Wednesday to begin raising money for a campaign to legalize recreational pot use in California in 2016, a move with potential to add a dose of extra excitement to the presidential election year.
The Marijuana Policy Project filed paperwork with the California secretary of state’s office registering a campaign committee to start accepting and spending contributions for a pot legalization initiative on the November 2016 state ballot, the group said.
The measure would be similar to those passed in 2012 by voters in Colorado and Washington, the first U.S. states to legalize commercial sales of marijuana to all adults over 21.
California, long the national leader in illegal marijuana production and home to a thriving, largely unregulated medical marijuana industry, is one of the 21 other states that currently allow marijuana use only for medical reasons. The drug remains illegal under federal law.
“Marijuana prohibition has had an enormously detrimental impact on California communities. It’s been ineffective, wasteful and counterproductive. It’s time for a more responsible approach,” Marijuana Policy Project Executive Director Rob Kampia said. “Regulating and taxing marijuana similarly to alcohol just makes sense.”
The Washington, D.C.-based group also has established campaign committees to back legalization measures in Arizona, Massachusetts and Nevada in 2016.
Voters in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia will weigh in on marijuana legalization in November.
In 2010, California voters rejected a ballot initiative seeking to legalize recreational pot. The measure, just like the medical marijuana law the state approved in 1996, was the first of its kind. But along with opposition from law enforcement and elected officials, Proposition 19 faced unexpected resistance from medical marijuana users and outlaw growers in the state’s so-called Emerald Triangle who worried legalization would lead to plummeting marijuana prices.
Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Mason Tvert predicted no such divisions would surface this time around.
Citing his group’s experience in Colorado and the advantage of aiming for a presidential election year when voter turnout is higher, Tvert said legalization supporters would use the next two years to build a broad-based coalition and craft ballot language that addresses concerns of particular constituencies.
“Obviously, it’s a whole different landscape in California, where it will cost probably as much or more to just get on the ballot as it did to run a winning campaign after getting on the ballot in Colorado,” he said.
League of California Cities lobbyist Tim Cromartie, whose group opposed the state’s 2010 pot legalization initiative and until this year fought legislative efforts to give the state greater oversight of medical marijuana, said Wednesday that it was too soon to say what kind of opposition, if any, would greet a 2016 campaign.
Lynne Lyman, California director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said her group expects to play a major role in the legalization effort and already has started raising money. Lyman said the goal is to have an initiative written by next summer. She estimated that a pro-legalization campaign would cost $8 million to $12 million.
Even though California would be following in the steps of other states if a 2016 initiative passes, legalizing recreational marijuana use there would have far-reaching implications, Lyman said.
“When an issue is taken up in California, it becomes a national issue,” she said. “What we really hope is that with a state this large taking that step, the federal government will be forced to address the ongoing issue of marijuana prohibition.”