Pubdate: Thu, 19 Dec 2013
Source: Langley Advance (CN BC)
Copyright: 2013 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc.
Author: Matthew Claxton


The Langley pot bylaw will now be considered by the provincial 
Minister of Agriculture.

There was a lot of smoke but no fire as Langley Township council 
debated a bylaw to control medical marijuana farming Monday night.

The council would ultimately vote unanimously in favour of a bylaw 
that would restrict growing medical pot to industrial areas only.

To get to that unanimous vote, they embarked on a wide-ranging 
discussion about industrial versus agricultural growing, and about 
the tight timelines for any new rules.

The federal regulations will change on April 1, 2014. For years, 
medical pot has been grow in small lots, by either its users or 
people with permits to sell to a small handful of registered users.

The system of small grow-ops, which has been a headache for police 
and a target for criminals, is being phased out in favour of a 
private enterprise system. Larger-scale private firms will be allowed 
to grow and compete for customers.

Seven companies expressed interest in the new rules, said Mayor Jack 
Froese. Only one, longtime local firm Koch Greenhouses, came forward 
to speak at last week's hearing. Koch wants to continue to grow 
medical pot at the company's rural greenhouses, long used for 
orchids. The owners said that agricultural land is the right place 
for growing marijuana, not industrial sites.

Councillor Bob Long noted that at least one of Langley's neighbours, 
Maple Ridge, is moving towards allowing pot only in agricultural regions.

"They've actually gone in the opposite direction," said Long.

The measure hasn't been discussed at the Township's Agricultural 
Advisory Committee.

"There's not a lot known about it," said Coun. David Davis. Most 
locals with an interest in medical marijuana didn't hear about the 
issue until recently, Davis said.

The next meeting of the ag committee is this Thursday, but several 
councillors argued that it might take too long to get input from the 
committee, and possibly change the bylaw and hold a new public hearing.

Coun. Charlie Fox warned of a "tidal wave" coming on April 1 when the 
new regulations hit, and said citizens need action before that.

"What do we think's going to happen on April 1?" asked Davis. "Not a 
lot a lot's going to happen April 1."

Froese noted that there are seven potential applicants for marijuana 
licences who will need an answer on local rules by that date.

The answer may not come from the council, as the Ministry of 
Agriculture has the right to overrule the Township on this issue.

Langley Township, along with Abbotsford, Kelowna, and Delta, are all 
under rules that allow the province to override any 
agriculture-related bylaws the council passes.

All four communities are trying to put forward similar bylaws 
restricting pot to industrial areas, as is Pitt Meadows.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom