November 08, 2013 - 12:27 PM
PENTICTON - Interested pot growers looking to go corporate have been knocking on the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen's door for available sites and zoning rules including the ones on agricultural land reserves.
On April 1 the only legal sources to obtain medical marijuana will be through producers approved by Health Canada which will shut out thousands of licensed medical cannabis growers who might have been growing a bit of pot in their backyards for personal medical use.
About eight interested parties have been requesting information from the regional district about zoning and what land is available including plots on reserved land.
Lawyer Don Skogstad attended Thursday's regional district meeting and said this new type of cannabis production can count as an agricultural activity and can be allowed on reserved land provided it gets approval from Health Canada and the Agricultural Land Commission.
Skogstad has been lecturing on medical marijuana for three years and he advised regional directors they have little stopping power to prevent someone from building an approved cannabis business on reserved land.
There are dozens of safeguards built into the new rules but none require the permission of regional districts. The same goes for municipalities if the cannabis developer wants to build on reserved land.
"They wouldn't require zoning from the city and the city cannot regulate it out of zoning," he said.
Regional governments can instead make requests to the commission to, say, have a potential site relocated somewhere else on reserved land.
Skogstad believes one intention of the new Health Canada regulations is to move cannabis operations out and away from residential areas. It gets a little sticky in B.C. where a school could be next door to a plot of agricultural reserved land where an entrepreneur wants to build his cannabis operation.
The lawyer expects administrators of reserved land will try to address concerns of municipalities and regional districts. He added those looking to build such sites will need to spend upwards of $500,000 to meet Health Canada regulations. Most of the money will pay for security measures such as retinal scanning for employees, fencing and strong walls.
To contact a reporter for this story, to send photos or videos, email Shannon Quesnel at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 250-488-3065, send tweets to @shannonquesnel1 or @InfoNewsPentict. You can also check out Shannon Quesnel or Infotel News on Facebook.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013