November 28, 2012 - 4:13 PM
A local activist is calling a public hearing regarding medicinal marijuana zoning in Kamloops a "joke" and doesn't want it to go through.
"I think it should be stopped. I don't think it should go forward," said Carl Anderson, executive director for the Canadian Safe Cannabis Society. "The only people (who) are going to come are the people (who) are against it. The people (who) are for it are afraid to come."
Proposed bylaw changes were brought to council Nov. 27 in light of pending changes to Health Canada's medical marijuana regulations. Federal changes would commercialize licensed medical marijuana and phase out residential neighbourhood grow-ops.
Some municipalities are taking a proactive approach, amending bylaws and zoning in preparation for the changes.
Kamloops councillors could not decide whether to amend the local bylaw restricting medicinal grow-ops to industrial zones and voted to take the matter to the public.
Anderson said about a dozen people contacted him stating they don't want to attend the public hearing due to privacy issues. He said this would make the hearing one-sided.
"People are coming to me and saying, 'I don't want to go to a public hearing because I'm going to lose my job and because I'm going to tell the City who I am and where I live."
He said growers are also concerned about revealing their identities publicly and making themselves vulnerable to theft.
Anderson, a Kamloops resident for over 20 years, said he knows of about 100 grow-ops in local residential areas and that neighbourhood grow-ops are not a problem.
"All the potential dangers of them — it's overstated," he said. "These people live in their homes. They live with their families. I don't think they're looking to endanger their families."
He added that growers are responsible because problems would also depreciate the value of their homes.
He said council merely wants control over the issue.
"Basically what the city appears to be doing is using this new bylaw to say, 'OK, we have regulations in place. If you don't follow those regulations, we're going to attack you.'"
He said the city should have consulted with him to reach out to stakeholders and maintain their anonymity.
"If they'd have come forward and said, 'Carl we want to open up a dialogue with as many medical marijuana users and get their input,' it would make the community safer and make everyone happy."
He said he is going to consult a lawyer regarding the process and that he doesn't know if he would attend the hearing if it goes ahead.
"It's not a public hearing if I'm the only one there (who's) going to stand up for our side of the equation."
— Jessica Wallace
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2012