ENDERBY - Representatives of a rural North Okanagan community are outlawing the production of medical marijuana within city bounds.
Enderby council voted Monday to ban the cultivation of medical marijuana in rural, commercial and industrial zones. The decision is in response to Health Canada’s changes to the system, shifting production from small residential producers to commercial factories. As of April 1, licensed patients and their designated growers will no longer be permitted to grow marijuana in their homes. And if council has its way, they won’t be getting the product from Enderby.
Coun. Earl Shipmaker has safety concerns about large scale grow-ops setting up shop in the city. The new facilities come with strict requirements: commercial steel doors, 24-hour surveillance, and a record of everyone entering the restricted area, to name a few. Health Canada believes these high security operations will stop product from being diverted to the black market, but Shipmaker thinks it could have an adverse effect on crime.
“We’re worried that the kind of people who could (afford to) run an operation like that would be gangs,” Shipmaker says.
“It’s probable it would be illicit drug money.”
Additionally, he says there have been complaints from the public about an existing grow-op.
“One of the difficulties is the odour having an effect on the neighbourhood. We had several complaints,” Shipmaker says.
But crime and odour aside, one councillor says there’s just not room for a facility of this kind in Enderby. Given Health Canada’s guidelines around the mandatory distance from schools and playgrounds, Coun. Greg McCune doesn’t know where they could put one.
“We looked at our little community and we really don’t have any place that would suit this type of stuff,” McCune says.
Enderby’s limited industrial land is right next to the high school, and most residential and commercial areas are within close proximity to playgrounds, pools and parks, McCune says.
“For us it had nothing to do with what the product is—we have no problem with what they’re trying to do—but these are the guidelines (Health Canada) has set out and we’re just not suitable,” McCune says.
It’s possible that medical marijuana could be grown on agricultural land because the Agricultural Land Commission has deemed it a farm-use. But even then, McCune says the city’s only agricultural land is right next to the public beach.
“Instead of playing the game and having someone come along and think it's a possibility, we don’t want to lead them down that road where they buy property and later find out it’s not suitable,” McCune says.
Health Canada stopped accepting applications for personal use and designated grower licenses. So far, Health Canada has only approved five facilities in Canada to legally produce, manufacture and distribute under the new regime.
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