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Vernon couple upset about pot odour won't get much help from Health Canada

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August 09, 2016 - 6:30 PM


VERNON - There appear to be no immediate answers for a Vernon couple complaining about the odour from a nearby licensed marijuana grow operation.

The husband and wife told the smell from a grow-op located near their home is so strong some days they can’t sit comfortably on their porch. They brought the issue to the attention of the RCMP and Vernon City Hall, but were told nothing could be done because the operation is legal.

The City of Vernon has no authority over grow-ops that were licensed under Health Canada’s old regulation system, which allowed patients to obtain licenses for small, home-based grow-ops and as it turns out, neither does Health Canada. 

Canada's medical marijuana system was overhauled in 2014, when Health Canada moved away from licensing residential grow-ops, and introduced a new framework where medical marijuana is produced by large-scale, commercial facilities.

Shortly after those rules were introduced, the Federal Court of Appeal upheld an injunction allowing patients licensed under the old system to keep growing at home.

The City of Vernon prepared for Health Canada’s new rules by creating a bylaw that permits medical marijuana facilities in industrial and agricultural areas, but there wasn’t much it could do to anticipate the grey area created by the court injunction.

Because the city does not allow medical marijuana grow-ops anywhere but on industrial and agricultural land, it says any grow-ops located in residential areas of Vernon are carry-overs from the old system, and it has no jurisdiction over them. Apparently, neither does Health Canada.

No one from the agency was immediately available for an interview, but a written response was provided to It states that residential grow-ops licensed under the old Medical Marijuana Access Regulations are no longer monitored by Health Canada. 

“As the MMAR (Medical Marijuana Access Regulations) have been repealed, Health Canada no longer has the authority to conduct inspections of sites where the production of marijuana was authorized under these regulations,” states Health Canada.

Even when it did have authority over the operations, there were no regulations related to any by-products of the production, such as odours.

“Health Canada advised individuals who were authorized under the MMAR to be discreet with their production and any odours.” Health Canada says.

Health Canada notes that people authorized under the old regulations must comply with all applicable federal, provincial and municipal bylaws.

“Any individuals who are producing marijuana for medical purposes pursuant to the federal court order who disregard their authorization or license requirements, or any other related legislation, may be subject to law enforcement measures under the applicable legislation. Anyone that suspects the occurrence of activity that may violate a law or bylaw, should contact their local law or bylaw enforcement agency,” Health Canada says.

A media relations officer told Health Canada is expecting to release new medical marijuana access regulations by Aug. 25, 2016 which may help to clarify things.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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