Pubdate: Fri, 16 Jul 2010
Source: Maple Ridge News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2010 Maple Ridge News
Author: Monisha Martins
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


Two people who grow medical marijuana in a house in Pitt Meadows are 
vowing to fight the city as it amends a bylaw to shut their operation down.

In a cul-de-sac at the end of a quiet residential street, the pair 
have just harvested a third crop of 98 plants for a woman who suffers 
from leukemia.

She uses marijuana to control pain by turning it into a tea and 
blending it with spaghetti sauce.

"We are willing to fight," said Shannon Rowe, who has a 
Designated-Person Production Licence from Health Canada - a permit 
that allows her to grow legal pot.

She is growing for her uncle Gerald, who has a spinal injury.

"This is a fight for people who are ill, who don't have the energy to 
fight," she added.

The man who owns the Pitt Meadows house, who wishes to remain 
anonymous, is behind Legal Grow Canada - a non-profit society that 
facilitates medical marijuana grow-ops.

He has houses with medical grow operations in Vancouver, Mission, 
Maple Ridge and Coquitlam - all functioning without any problems from 
city officials, he said.

The Pitt Meadows house currently has four people licensed to grow for 
others - the maximum allowed by Health Canada.

Rowe said they informed the city and police about the medical grow-op 
before they set up last year.

They passed an electrical inspection and had a city building official 
look at the house.

Three crops and eight months later, city officials sent them a letter 
saying they had 24 hours to shut down.

The threat was extended to 30 days - a deadline which has since passed.

In the meantime, Pitt Meadows council gave two readings to an 
amendment to the city's land use bylaw to prohibit growing marijuana 
for medicinal use in residential and agricultural zones.

If the amendment passes, the city will be one of the first in Canada 
to use a municipal bylaw to restrict an activity that's allowed under 
federal regulations.

Growing medical marijuana for personal use will still be permitted in 
the city, but growing for others as a home-based business will not be allowed.

"Now we want to stay underground," said Rowe.

"We don't want to deal with this. We've got nothing to hide. Go after 
the people with guns."

But city officials point out there were two illegal grow operations 
found at the house before the residents set up their medical enterprise.

In nearby Maple Ridge, police seized 1,744 pot plants from a 
medicinal marijuana grow-op last month that was licensed to grow a 
maximum of 73. There was a shooting at another medical grow-op, while 
a compassion club has set up in downtown Maple Ridge.

The city has also received complaints from neighbours.

"We just don't want to see these set up in residential zones," said 
city building official Dave Bruce.

"If this was a license for an individual to grow marijuana for 
personal use, I don't think it is an issue we would pursue, but when 
a person does this for commercial purposes, that seems to suggest it 
should be occurring in more appropriately zoned locations."

A medicinal cannabis advocate, however, thinks the city should be 
talking to the growers instead of sending them underground.

Michelle Rainey, a Maple Ridge resident and vice-president of the 
B.C. Marijuana Party, said everyone involved - city, growers, 
activists and Health Canada - need to open a dialogue.

"I don't believe the way the city is going about doing things is 
right. It's more of a witch hunt than anything else, which is rather 
sad," she said.

"They are targeting someone who is ill and has a medical condition."

A former banker and currently director of marketing for an 
alternative medicine journal, Treating Yourself Magazine, Rainey said 
getting a Heath Canada permit isn't easy. The exemption form is 33 
pages and patients must satisfy legal and medical conditions set by 
Ottawa before a permit to possess marijuana is issued. If the person 
wants to grow their own marijuana and purchase seeds from Prairie 
Plant Systems (PPS) - the only government-approved supplier - they 
must complete another application.

If they can't grow their own crop, a "designated person" who clears a 
criminal record check must apply for a licence.

"This falls under federal jurisdiction. This is not municipal, and 
until Health Canada or the government decides to change that, the 
only obligation that the growers have is to meet safety standards and 
keep within their limits," said Rainey, who also grows marijuana to 
treat Stage 3 melanoma and Crohn's disease.

. A public hearing on the amendment is scheduled at Pitt Meadows city 
hall for July 20 at 7 p.m.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom