February 26, 2014 - 9:12 AM
KELOWNA - The city’s approach to zoning land used to grow medical marijuana was a hot topic at council Monday.
The current Marijuana Medical Access Program ends on March 31, and as of April 1, the only legal access to marijuana for medical purposes will be through licensed producers under the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations.
During a policy workshop in November, city staff were directed to draft bylaws that would limit the facilities to industrial zones, and not agricultural as was recommended by the federal government.
Councillors unanimously passed the bylaw that keeps medical marijuana facilities in General Industrial, Heavy Industrial and Central Industrial zones.
City Clerk Stephen Fleming says industrial zones are more suited to the type of buildings and security required by medical marijuana production facilities, which will result in fewer conflicts with neighbours.
“We know there are a large number of licences that Health Canada has issued that are in the city,” Fleming says. “A lot of those are in residential areas.”
Although licences for the facilities are issued by Health Canada, it is up to local municipalities to decide where those facilities can be located.
“One approach is not the same for every municipality,” says Fleming, who is unaware of how many facilities the government will issue for the area.
“It could be a high number, it could be a low number,” he says. “We want to make sure that we have something in place that clearly permits these specific uses.”
According to numbers released by Health Canada, as of October 7, 1,186 people were permitted to use medical marijuana in Kelowna. Of those, 841 were licenced to grow medical marijuana for themselves, and 181 were legally allowed to grow for someone else.
Fleming says around 20 residents have expressed interest in starting a facility in Kelowna.
Medical marijuana operators in agricultural or residential zones whose application has been approved with Health Canada will be required to rezone their land before they get the go-ahead from the city.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014