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How one regional district is proposing to regulate medical marijuana facilities

March 04, 2014 - 4:29 PM

VERNON -  A public hearing Wednesday will give the community a chance to weigh in on a draft zoning bylaw for medical marijuana facilities.

The North Okanagan Regional District has decided to allow marijuana grow-ops on agricultural and industrial lands when Health Canada’s new commercial production system comes online April 1. At that time, all previously licensed patients and designated growers will lose the right to grow marijuana in residential grow-ops and product will be delivered to patients through a mail order system.

Rob Smailes, with the regional district, says various agencies have already been consulted for feedback on the bylaw, which “regulates, not prohibits” medical marijuana facilities.

“It treats marijuana facilities similarly to how we treat mushroom or pig barns on agricultural land or how we treat facilities on industrial lands,” Smailes says. “We’ve looked at uses that have similar impacts involving lighting, glare, noise, dust, odour—things we regulate in a number of uses already.”

Interior Health, the Vernon RCMP, and the Agricultural Land Commission are among those that gave feedback on the bylaw.

“The RCMP said you want to keep this on bigger properties to reduce conflict with other neighbours,” Smailes says. “IHA said the odours are a potential problem and you should try to address that through your zoning.... We’re trying to make sure these facilities fit well within our community.”

The regional district is hoping to address any concerns by mandating minimum property sizes and setbacks from neighbours. The proposed bylaw dictates that medical marijuana production facilities will only be permitted on properties 19.77 acres or larger and must be at least 7.5 metres from property lines, and farther if there’s a residence on the adjacent property.

Following the public hearing, the regional district board is expected to give third reading to the bylaw, after which it will be sent to the Ministry of Infrastructure for approval before officially being adopted.

The public hearing is at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Regional District of North Okanagan on Aberdeen Road in Coldstream.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca or call (250)309-5230.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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