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Pot activist has concerns with city proposal

A Kamloops marijuana activist says a proposed change to the city’s zoning bylaw goes too far in restricting the growing of medical marijuana.

While he initially told KTW he supported changes that would allow medical-marijuana growers to quietly set up shop in the city’s industrial areas, Carl Anderson of the Canadian Safe Cannabis Society said he now has some serious concerns about the proposal.

Kamloops council decided last week to hold a public hearing on the bylaw amendment, which is intended to get medical-marijuana production out of residential areas.

City staff say residential grow-ops post health and safety risks for neighbours, as well as for the growers.

They can become targets for criminal elements and the operations may be fire risks if they’re not set up properly.

However, Anderson said a ban on residential growing will impact many growers who can’t afford or aren’t able to take part in warehouse production.

“Personally, I don’t want to produce at my home. I want to make it somewhere better. But, I’m not going to support that at the expense of cutting off everyone else,” he said.

While the proposed Kamloops restrictions come as Health Canada is looking at phasing out the parts of its medical-marijuana program that allow participants to grow their own supply and moving to a fully commercial system, Anderson said city hall may be jumping the gun if it’s enacting restrictions based on that possibility.

Anderson said medical-marijuana activists are already gearing up for a “huge battle” and possible lawsuits if Health Canada moves to get rid of personal production.

“Historically, Health Canada, the product they provide is wholly inefficient and no one wants it,” he said.

There’s also an issue of cost.

Anderson said growing a personal supply of medical marijuana at home can be done relatively cheaply, noting many users worry  government-issue pot will become prohibitively expensive.

Anderson said he will attend the city’s public hearing, but many of Kamloops’ other medical marijuana users are worried that if they divulge their names — a requirement to speak at a hearing — they may become targets for criminals or lose employment when they are pegged as pot smokers.

“They’re also afraid city hall is going to use the knowledge of who they are to pursue them and attack them after they pass their new bylaw,” Anderson said.

While he’s hoping to put some growers in touch with city councillors in advance of the hearing, Anderson is not sure how much sway they will have.

“It’s not as compelling to read an email as it is to hear someone’s voice outright,” he said.

A date for the public hearing has not been set, but city staff said it will likely be held in January.

 

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