by Deron Johnston
On Monday January 7, the Municipality of North Grenville hosted a discussion forum on whether or not to allow cannabis retail stores in North Grenville (there was also another meeting the following night at the community hall in Bishops Mills). The forum took place immediately following the Committee of the Whole meeting in one of the salon rooms across the hall from the theatre. The room was laid out in a half circle, with tables and chairs facing a screen on to which three different slide shows of information were projected.
The meeting was attended by approximately thirty people, including all members of council. Robert Noseworthy, Chair of the Kemptville District Hospital Foundation, was asked to be the moderator for the meeting, with members of council sitting as observers, except for Mayor Nancy Peckford, who spoke briefly to introduce Robert at the beginning and thanked everyone at the end.
In total, there were three presentations made. One was from the Lanark Leeds Grenville Health Unit (read by Robert Noseworthy) about the potential health implications of cannabis use. North Grenville CAO, Brian Carré, also made a presentation based on the municipal regulatory framework surrounding cannabis stores, and also gave some background information about recreational cannabis use. A third presentation was made by North Grenville resident, Ivan Ross Vrana, on different aspects and types of cannabis products, Health Canada regulations around licenced production of cannabis products, and certain legal matters around cannabis use.
After the presentations, those in attendance were asked for their input and questions. Local real estate agent, Geraldine Taylor, expressed her support for opting in by recounting a conversation that she had with an Ottawa first responder about the increased number of drug overdose calls due to problems with people, knowingly or unknowingly, consuming fentanyl. She felt that the increased regulation and controls around cannabis use could help the overdose situation. There were a number of other statements made and questions asked by residents, but there appeared to be no specific opposition to cannabis stores opening in North Grenville.
Ivan Ross Vrana has been involved in the cannabis issue since 2008. That is, he has been involved in policy development, advocacy and been an advisor to both government and private sector organizations on the subject of cannabis. The Oxford Mills resident, who moved here in 2012, spent eighteen years working at Health Canada and, in 2008, took over the national lead for Health Canada in policy development for medical cannabis use.
In 2013, he left Health Canada to start his own consulting firm, Aslan Ross, which he ran out of an office in downtown Kemptville. In 2016, he began working for Hill & Knowlton Strategies, which is a worldwide company that works in public relations, government relations, and communications, where he is now a Vice President and works with a number of the company’s 45 cannabis clients from across Canada.
Ivan is yet another example of some of the remarkable home-grown experts that we have living here among us in North Grenville.