Medicinal marijuana brings bylaw changes

Zoning changes planned to allow commercial production

The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) has begun a bylaw amendment process to allow commercial grow operations for medical-use marijuana in industrial zones only.

CRD chair Al Richmond says the need for zoning changes isn’t unique to this area, since the federal government began to take applications for medicinal marijuana grow-ops in June.

“I think most local governments in the province are looking at how they are going to manage this.”

Since 2001, Health Canada has allowed authorized individuals to cultivate marijuana for their medical treatment, and it now includes 30,000 approved home-based operations.

That program and authorizations will end on March 31, 2014 after Ottawa decided earlier this year to commercialize this drug production and eliminate residential grow ops.

“Since it is a crop that the feds [don’t want] it grown in greenhouses – they seem to want it grown in more secure facilities, warehouses, etc. – staff feels an industrial zone would be the more appropriate zone to put it in.”

Fewer residents live in an industrial complex, Richmond notes, or already live next door to areas with heavy industrial uses.

“What we’re trying to do is get them out of neighbourhoods. We’ve had [grow-op] houses burn down … so you don’t really want them on residentially zoned properties.”

The bylaw change process will be done in two stages, he says, adding anyone who applies to rezone property for this purpose later will involve the usual public consultation.

The board asked staff to first bring back a draft of the potential designations and zonings that might best accommodate legal grow-ops, Richmond explains.

“We would then consult the RCMP to get its take on how appropriate [it is], or how it feels [the change] would work with their enforcement.

“Secondly, if we decide to proceed, we would [go] to public hearing on it.”


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