January 29, 2015 7:24 pm
Updated: January 30, 2015 8:11 pm

Grow house near Markham, Ont. school leaves kids reeking of pot


WATCH ABOVE: A medical marijuana operation in a house across the street form a Markham, Ont. elementary school has become a concern for residents. Jennifer Tryon explains why.

Parents say children at a Markham, Ont. elementary school are coming home smelling like pot and that the smell stems from a medical marijuana grow house located across the street.

“One time she came home, it was just the immediate stench was very overwhelming,” one mother told Global News.

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“They shouldn’t have something like this close to the school,” said another concerned father. “Even though it’s a legal operation, it shouldn’t be close by where kids are.”

Wei Gao is the owner of the house. He doesn’t live in the residence but has been growing marijuana there for two years.

He admitted to having 146 all for personal medicinal use. His licence was granted by Health Canada after he broke his leg.

Last year, the federal agency changed the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, making home grows illegal. The new regulations would move all medical marijuana grow operations to commercial facilities responsible for selling to patients with licences.

READ MORE: Doctors uneasy being ‘gatekeepers’ under new medical pot rules

The new regulations are being challenged in court and until that decision is made, all old marijuana grow licences, like Gao’s, can continue operating.

Police, fire and bylaw officers in Markham are routinely inspecting the property, and Gao could be facing up to $25,000 in fines for electrical violations.

“Our challenge is we check with Health Canada and if it’s not a licensed grow we investigate it as we always would,” said Det. Peter Fleming from York Regional Police. “If it is a licensed grow then we don’t have a lot of options at our disposal.”

“The house is just kind of a vessel where there’s electricity and a furnace to keep the plants growing,” he said. “But I find it odd… to have a house filled with plants, but you as the owner never actually live there, but everyone in the neighbourhood lives with it.”

READ MORE: Ontario town sets hopes on medical marijuana facility

The school board and city by-law officers have no legal recourse, as long as Gao operates within the perimeters of his Health Canada license.

Gao, speaking to Global News with the help of his son translating, said if he were to change locations now, he’d be forfeiting his old license. But, he said he is willing to change his filtration system to lessen the smell in the neighbourhood.

WATCH BELOW: Jennifer Tryon reports on the confusion over medical marijuana regulations (April 1, 2014)

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