Pubdate: Thu, 06 Feb 2014
Source: Simcoe Reformer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 Sun Media
Author: Daniel R. Pearce


Town hall must decide where it will allow medical marijuana growing
operations to set up shop by April 1, when new federal laws governing
them come into effect.

All current growing licences will be recalled by then and new ones
issued as a more tightly-controlled era for legal pot operations dawns.

Legal grow-ops have been running quietly in former tobacco greenhouses
across the county.

But there are many other potentially ideal sites available in the form
of industrial-size greenhouse operations, farms with multiple large
buildings, and abandoned factories.

Elected officials will want to keep the operations - assuming someone
in Norfolk gets one of the new licences from Health Canada - away from
residential areas.

Whatever they decide, however, will be eclipsed to some degree by new
restrictive rules Ottawa has brought out: more than 260 regulations
(plus subsections) covering every aspect of an operation.

First of all, there will be no outdoor growing allowed.

All buildings used for growing, storing, and processing must have
secure "perimeters" set up around them that are monitored with video
surveillance equipment. The video in turn must be monitored at all
times by employees. Sites must also have "intrusion detection systems"
installed and have secured entrances.

At Tuesday night's council meeting, county manager Keith Robicheau
reminded elected officials that Health Canada's new rules have already
set "the bar very high."

Simcoe Coun. Peter Black suggested council decide on something that
will give town hall maximum "control" over the operations.

Without tight regulations, he warned, "the criminal element will be
stepping in . . . We need to control this the best way we can."

Charlotteville Coun. Jim Oliver said he believes the county should
allow the operations in agricultural areas to take advantage of farms
with buildings but be kept out of hamlets, the tiny pockets of
residential areas that pop up in the countryside.

The matter has been sent back to county staff to develop new wording
for Norfolk's official plan and zoning bylaws.

Health Canada's rules are extensive and reach into every part of a
marijuana producing operation. People who own licences or are in
charge must be able to pass a security check.

Each grow-op must have a "quality assurance person" who inspects and
approves every "batch" of pot produced. It must also have a system in
place that allows it to conduct a "rapid and complete recall" of all
the pot it has sent out in case there is a problem.

Neighbours are taken into consideration by Health Canada. Operations
will be required to have an air-filtering system in place to keep
odours from escaping.

Consumers as well are offered some protection. The marijuana must be
free of "residue of pest control" and all the equipment used in the
operation must be designed for easy cleaning to avoid the pot from
being contaminated.

So far, Health Canada has received more than 400 applications for the
new licences from across the country.

Currently, more than 37,000 Canadians are authorized to possess
marijuana for health reasons.
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