KELOWNA — Proponents argue marijuana is a crop and should be grown on agricultural land but that’s not the way Kelowna city council sees it.
On Monday, council took the first step in banning medical marijuana grows on agricultural land within the city.
Councillor Mohini Singh says they belong in industrial areas.
“I know you will argue that there are packing houses and there are other facilities on agriculture land and this could have agriculture uses too. But no — once those big facilities are built, it can never go back to being agricultural property. We will lose valuable agricultural land.”
Marlys Wolfe is disappointed with council’s decision. The Kelowna woman was hoping to set up a medical marijuana grow operation on her Dilworth area farm. She says there are already industrial sized warehouses on agricultural land.
“They allow greenhouses, so to me this is no different than any other part of agriculture.”
Wolfe won’t be allowed to grow medical marijuana on her property. And as of March 31st, anyone who currently has a licence to grow medical pot must dismantle their operation.
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There are more than 1000 medical marijuana licenses within the city. Kelowna’s city clerk says shutting them down is already proving to be a challenge.
“Health Canada, for privacy reasons, won’t provide us a list of where these locations are because it ties them to their medical history and from a privacy perspective that’s understandable on the one hand. On the other hand, a lot of these are in residential areas, may have an impact on neighbours,” says Steven Fleming. “We know where some of them are from complaints about venting and things like that, so there will be an enforcement plan put together from the RCMP and by-law enforcement staff.”
And where will those who need medical marijuana go? So far, not a single supplier has been granted a licence in Kelowna under the new federal rules and Councillor Robert Hobson is concerned about the transition period.
“Our staff said that eight (medical marijuana grow operations) had been approved across Canada — only two in BC. Assuming there’s a demand in Western Canada, it doesn’t look like there’s a lot of facilities that will be ready on April 1.”