City puzzles over where medical marijuana fits into plan

The yellow areas indicate an exclusion buffer required to keep medical marijuana grow operations away from areas frequented by children under the age of 18.
Image Credit: City of Kamloops

KAMLOOPS – Have questions or concerns over which areas of the city will be allowed to house medical marijuana grow operations? The city will present a plan at a public hearing Tuesday to allow grow operations in industrial zoned areas based on new Health Canada regulations.

The new Health Canada regulations were designed to provide access to quality controlled medical marijuana from commercial growers while discontinuing the issue of personal use grow permits. At a July meeting Kamloops council expressed some concern over these regulations, from safety to potential for increased costs for lower income people, agreeing no decisions would made before consulting with the public.

Currently bylaws in the city do not specifically address federally-licensed grow operations, which leaves much to interpretation. Under the proposed bylaw these operations will require a business license and will not be allowed in residential neighbourhoods where schools, community centres, parks and playgrounds are located. Strict guidelines for building code items such as ventilation will also be put in place.

“The city is not responsible for the issue of legalization... what this public hearing would be about is land use issue,” Coun. Ken Christian said in July. “Would we allow in our industrial zones the cultivation of medical marijuana?”

While some councillors want to see agricultural land included as an option for licensed grow operations staff is not recommending it as an option due to the often remote nature of agricultural land.

“I support it, think some of security concerns are overblown,” Coun. Donovan Cavers said at the July meeting, “It's an ag product, it's a plant. I don’t think there's any less security issues.”

The new regulations come into play Oct. 1, at which point Health Canada will no longer be allowing personal-use or designated-person production licenses and a transition period will be put in place. The city does not have the option to prohibit the activity but can offer some control through land use bylaws.

The public hearing for the bylaw will take place Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m.

To contact a reporter for this story, email, call (250)819-3723 or tweet @JennStahn.

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