Health Canada medical grow ops continue to defy regulation
November 07, 2017 - 8:00 PM
KELOWNA - With attention focused on the looming legalization of cannabis, it’s easy to forget the existing Health Canada medical cannabis home production program is still very much in existence.
The Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes regulations governs the program but some Health Canada growers were grandfathered in under the old rules which have a higher limit on the number of plants that can be grown and also allows some growers to produce cannabis for more than three people.
That has lead to some legal, large-scale growing operations being set up in residential homes, Kelowna city clerk Stephen Fleming says, with the city unable to regulate them even if they do know where they are.
Health Canada won’t reveal the location of old licensees and Fleming says that’s created a grey area still being explored by municipalities.
“If you have a license to grow in your house, what’s our authority to regulate it,” he says. “If someone is growing on your behalf, isn’t that a business? It’s not really a clear cut business as we would understand it.”
Kelowna has a bylaw that restricts commercial scale cannabis production to industrial areas and Fleming says that’s how the city would like to control all Health Canada licensed growers.
“Ideally they would give us the authority to use our existing powers of land use and zoning,” Fleming adds.
Controlling medical cannabis production is on the radar of many B.C. municipalities, Fleming says, and has been a topic of discussion at the two most recent Union of B.C. Municipalities conventions.
The hope is, Fleming says, that legalization of recreational cannabis next year will provide some clarification of the extent of municipal authority over medical production.
— This story was clarified at 12:02 p.m. Nov. 8. A previous version incorrectly stated the number of plants legally allowed under current regulations. This version clarifies that the problem is larger scale growers grandfathered in from older regulations.
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