Pubdate: Wed, 29 Jan 2014
Source: Sooke News Mirror (CN BC)
Page: Front Page
Copyright: 2014 Sooke News Mirror
Author: Pirjo Raits


Proliferation Will Not Be An Issue In The Juan De Fuca Electoral

Mike Hicks wants to tell the mayor of Richmond that Otter Point would
be happy to supply all of Richmond's medical marijuana requirements.
Just recently Richmond council banned medical marijuana grow-ops
fearing there could be a proliferation of such operations.

Mike Hicks, regional director for the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area,
doesn't think this would be a problem for in the Juan de Fuca EA..
Only four licenses to grow, process and sell medical marijuana have
been issued all across Canada.

"I don't see them springing up all over," said Hicks.

But if licenses are approved, a grow-op could be located in Otter
Point. It is understood that the licenses to produce will be up to
local government through their zoning. The province, said Hicks, will
allow medical grade marijuana to be grown on ALR land. Hicks wants to
consider grow-ops as intensive agriculture and by doing so any
operation would have to adhere to large setbacks on agricultural land.
The setbacks would be a 90m setback from the front and 30m on the side.

Sooke's setbacks are 30m front and back and Metchosin's are 60m on the
front and 30m on the side. Grow operations could also be considered in
industrial zones.

"We're going to send that out for referral to our Agricultural
Advisory Committee. Maybe our setbacks are too much. If you can meet
that requirement - there you go, or you could ask for a variance."

He said just because the federal government came up with a plan it
doesn't mean getting the correct zoning will be easy. Getting the
zoning is not a right, it's a privilege, stated Hicks.

Hicks does not want to see any "concrete bunkers."

Currently there is an application in for a grow-op and processing
facility in the industrial park in Otter Point. This would require the
applicants to go through a rezoning process which includes
consultation with any neighbours. The facility will not be a drive-to
dispensary, any medical marijuana will be sent out to the customer.
Everything is accountable to the government.

The applicants are a group of builders, doctors and pharmacists. The
facility could employ up to 10 people, said Hicks.

With the federal government about to change regulations in regard to
medical marijuana grow operations it doesn't mean everyone who applies
for a license to grow and process marijuana will get the chance.

The regulations are extremely strict. Criminal record checks, security
cameras monitoring everything and every square inch, intensive
reports, safety features, types of clothing, etc. Every single scrap
off the marijuana plants are accounted for as is the amount shipped
from the facility.

"We like the way Health Canada has done this," said Ian Laing, one of
the partners in the proposed grow facility. "It's done in a good way,
it's so hard it will weed people out."

"Personally, I'm totally supportive of this, if it can be done it will
be less obtrusive than a dairy farm," Hicks said.

At the end of the day the ALR definition of intensive agriculture as
it applies to medical marijuana production and the zoning application
have been sent out for referrals which includes; the District of
Sooke, the JdF Agricultural Advisory Committee and the Otter Point
Advisory Planning Committee.

"We didn't deny, we didn't okay, it's gone out into the river of
consultations. It will take six months of so," said Hicks. 
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