Pubdate: Wed, 12 Mar 2014
Source: Tri-Cities Now, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2014 Glacier Community Media
Author: Jeremy Deutsch


PoCo leads charge in shutting down grow-ops

Come April 1, if you live in PoCo and once had a legal license to grow
medicinal pot, when the city comes knocking there will be no fooling.

As new federal laws regarding the production of medicinal marijuana
take affect next month, the city's Public Safety Inspection (PSI)
Team, which deals with grow-op enforcement for the municipality, will
start the process of identifying and shutting down home-based grow-ops.

PoCo Mayor Greg Moore, who noted there could be hundreds of once-legal
medicinal grow-ops in the community, said the city is shutting down
the grow-ops out of concern for the neighbourhoods in which they exist.

"If there's marijuana in a home being grown illegally, which it would
be at that point, and the organized crime starts to understand where
these are, they not only put the household residents in jeopardy, they
put the neighbours in harms way," he told the Tri-Cities NOW.

On March 31, the current medical marijuana access program administered
through Health Canada ends, meaning personal-use production licences

Under the new federal regulations, the only legal access to pot for
medical purposes will be through licensed producers, in larger-scale
industrial operations.

The change gives municipalities like Port Coquitlam the power to shut
down the formerly legal in-home grow-ops through zoning bylaws.

Moore suggested the laws are a "step in the right direction" over the
former rules around medical weed, but suggested they fall short.

Specifically, he noted Health Canada still isn't telling
municipalities or local police departments where the former legal
grow-ops are located.

It remains up to each city to find these operations on their

"What we've always asked for is a better working relationship between
Health Canada and local governments," he said, adding it takes a lot
of time and energy to track down grow-ops in the community.

Moore noted the city knows where some of the medical grow-ops are
located due to previous interactions.

Across the Tri-Cities in Port Moody, Mayor Mike Clay sees the same
issue as his counterpart in PoCo.

The city and its police force don't know where the old medicinal
grow-ops are located.

Clay suggested once the new rules are in place, the police have an
obligation to check out the old grow-ops, since they would be breaking
the law.

Still, he appears to like the new regulations.

"If they are controlled, regulated industrial properties that are
being monitored than that's an improvement over what we have now,
which is thing being done in households," Clay said.

Last week, The Vancouver Police Department said it wouldn't be
shutting down medical dispensaries in that city as long as the pot is
being sold to people with licenses.

When asked how it will handle the new regulations, the Port Moody
Police Department offered a statement to the Tri-Cities NOW.

"In light of the upcoming changes to Health Canada's medicinal
marijuana regulations, the Port Moody Police Department will continue
to investigate public complaints of illegal marijuana grow operations
within the city," the statement read.

"The PMPD are aware of a number of medicinal marijuana grow operations
active in Port Moody. If notified by Health Canada of a potential
unlicensed residential medicinal marijuana grow operation, the PMPD
will assess a variety of factors to determine if a police
investigation is appropriate."

Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam MP James Moore is standing behind
his government's new regulations, noting he's fielded endless
complaints from constituents that the medicinal grow-ops were
devaluing properties and attracting organized crime.

"Residential grow-ops are a bad thing and they hurt local
communities," he said.

Though the MP acknowledged the transition to the new laws will be a
challenge, he also suggested the regulations strike the "right
balance" in that the medicinal pot will be grown in a commercial way,
arms length from the community, but still allow people access to the

While on one side, small home medicinal grow-ops are in the crosshairs
of municipalities, opportunities exist for large-scale industrial producers.

However, both mayors of PoCo and Port Moody aren't aware of any such
grow-ops being considered for their respective cities.
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