Spallumcheen wants pot growers to buzz off the farm

A residential marijuana grow-op.
Image Credit: SOURCE/ Contributed

SPALLUMCHEEN -  As Canada shifts from small residential grow-operations to commercial scale marijuana farms, one rural agricultural community is trying to determine its place under the new system.

The Township of Spallumcheen is hoping to relegate licensed marijuana facilities to industrial lands only when the country’s new regulations come into effect in April of 2014. Over-growing and diversion of marijuana to the black market are some of Health Canada’s concerns with the current system. 

But local government is a bit hazy on how it will all unfold. They are the ones tasked with designing bylaws to make it work.

Spallumcheen coun. Rachael Ganson says the township’s idea with a proposed zoning bylaw—which is designed to keep medical marijuana facilities off agricultural land—is all about safety.

“I look at this industry as something that could easily be done in an industrial area so you’re not exposing young children and families to the obvious things that come along with a farm like this,” Ganson says.

“What we’ve been told is there needs to be a large wall around it, security, lighting... things you don’t need on your typical farm.”

The new regulations require strict security measures, including things like commercial steel doors, 24 hour surveillance, and a record of who—and what—enters and leaves the facility.

Just this weekend, a Lake Country home was invaded, the suspect making off with marijuana and cash. Const. Kris Clark, spokesperson for the Kelowna RCMP, believes it was a targeted attack on the home, which housed a licensed medical marijuana grow-op. How the suspect knew it was there, Clark couldn’t say.

“One thing we do see is that whether a grow-operation is legal or not it certainly is a target to criminal organizations,” Clark says. “Obviously there’s a product in there that criminal organizations see as profitable, so it can be targeted, unfortunately.”

Spallumcheen has several main industrial areas, and Ganson would like to see the marijuana operations confined to those areas to better allow police to supervise them.

“If you have it (grow-op) way off on a farm in the middle of nowhere, it’s a little more difficult to police, and also more difficult for fire protection. The industrial areas are a little more clustered together,” Ganson says.

North Okanagan politicians will discuss bylaws for their respective communities at a board of directors meeting Wednesday.

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

LINKS:

Regional district concerned about corporate cannabis - Infotel News

West Kelowna wants medical pot growing confined to industrial areas - Capital News

This story was edited at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 20 to clarify that the zoning bylaw is only proposed at this point. 


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