Medical marijuana lands on RDCK table

Nelson Star file photo  / By Staff Writer – Nelson Star
Published: March 19, 2013 12:00 PM  -  Updated: March 19, 2013 12:39 PM

The Regional District of Central Kootenay is considering what its role will be once new federal rules are adopted around medicinal marijuana grow operations.

Is the Regional District of Central Kootenay willing to allow and police licensed medicinal marijuana grow ops? The board is expected to discuss the issue Thursday when a staff report appears on its agenda.

It’s based on new federal regulations expected to be approved this spring, which the government claims will “improve health, safety, and security of Canadians.”

The changes would create a licensing scheme for commercial production and distribution of medical marijuana while phasing out Health Canada’s role. It’s also intended to eliminate personal grow ops.

A memo from regional district planning staff poses a number of questions, such as if someone applies to establish a grow-op in the area, how will Health Canada’s licensing procedure mesh with the regional district’s permitting? And what role will local government staff, including building and bylaw officers, play in inspecting grow-ops?

The memo also wonders how much space a typical facility takes up, what the potential effects are on neighbours, and whether grow-op locations will be made public.

Staff consulted other jurisdictions have already been working on the issue and concluded the most practical solution is to focus on agricultural zones where licensed grow-ops can operate in stand-alone buildings well away from homes.

These grow-ops “could negatively impact adjacent properties,” the memo reads, adding without a clear idea of the size or scale of the operation, it’s hard to know the full impact.

As for existing grow-ops that aren’t in agricultural zones, the memo says the regional district could let them stay put but require them to apply for rezoning.

Staff are recommending the board await the approval of the new federal rules and in the meantime maintain the status quo, which assumes medicinal grow-ops are federally regulated and producers aren’t required to notify the RDCK.

Planning staff would further review the land use and policy implications of allowing grow-ops on lands designated agricultural.

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