Pubdate: Wed, 05 Feb 2014
Source: Tillsonburg News (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 Tillsonburg News
Author: Monte Sonnenberg


Norfolk could be a location for industrial pot production.

Norfolk County is laying the groundwork for the potential cultivation 
of marijuana on an industrial scale in the local area.

Staff is preparing now t hat Ottawa is about to change the rules on 
who can grow marijuana legally for medicinal purposes.

Under the current rules, more than 4,000 third-party growers in 
Canada produce marijuana in small batches for a handful of clients. 
These licences expire April 1. After April 1, production will be 
consolidated within a select group of companies.

In a report to Norfolk council t hat will be considered at Tuesday's 
committee meeting, county staff say several parties have approached 
them about the possibility of applying for a Health Canada permit. 
Potential growers are looking for guidance because the county's 
current zoning bylaws don't explicitly mention marijuana production.

In a report prepared by senior planner Tricia Givens, staff has 
determined that the federal government's stipulations for marijuana 
production make it a suitable practice in the agricultural zone, 
service commercial zone, the rural commercial zone and t he hamlet 
commercial zone provided it is buffered from residential 
neighbourhoods and other sensitive areas.

At Tuesday's meeting, planning staff will ask council how i t wants t 
o proceed. Options include restricting production to the established 
zones or amending the zoning bylaw and official plan to create more options.

The matter is pressing because the Norfolk OPP feel that any legal, 
large-scale operation in the local area should be confined to the 
industrial zone. As it stands, horticulture is not permitted in 
industrial zones in Norfolk.

The new regulations require that marijuana producers grow their 
plants indoors in a secure facility. Staff says it is conceivable 
that medical marijuana may be grown in greenhouses. Norfolk Fire & 
Rescue is concerned about how this might impact on public safety.

"If a structure is considered a part of a normal farm operation, the 
structure is not subject to the provisions of the Fire Code," Givens 
says in her report. "There was additional concern in relation to the 
storage of fertilizer and other related chemicals on site. Further 
information in relation to the location and manner of storage on each 
particular site would be required."

The new Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations replace the 
Medical Marijuana Access Regulations. Under the current regulations, 
many legal grow-ops are located in residential neighbourhoods in 
close proximity to schools, churches and the like.

"Some key areas of concern under the current regulations include 
diversion of excess production to non-medical users, increased crime 
in residential areas, mould problems in residential areas, increased 
fire risk due to improper electrical wiring, illegal grow-ops trying 
to blend with legal operations, lack of full knowledge of location of 
legal operations by local police and f i r e services, improper waste 
disposal and potential odor issues," Givens says in her report.

The fact that federal authorities have kept the location of legal 
grow-ops secret has been a bone of contention at recent meetings of 
Norfolk's Police Services Board.

Council will consider Givens' report at Tuesday's meeting at Governor 
Simcoe Square. The meeting gets underway at 5 p. m. and is open to the public.
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