Pubdate: Fri, 25 Jul 2014
Source: Delta Optimist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2014 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc
Author: Jessica Kerr


Delta's Bid to Prevent Medical Marijuana From Being Grown on Farmland 
Foiled by Province

Delta's attempt to regulate where medical marijuana is grown has been 
quashed by the provincial government.

Civic politicians approved legislation in February that would 
prohibit the production, storage, research or sale of medical 
marijuana in Delta, although applications would be considered on a 
case-by-case basis. Delta council has subsequently approved two such 

The move was made to steer medical marijuana operations to industrial 
sites and away from farmland. Delta even joined with three other 
municipalities - Langley Township, Abbotsford and Kelowna - to seek 
the province's support in banning medical marijuana operations in 
agricultural areas.

The municipality, however, recently received notice from Agriculture 
Minister Norm Letnick that he would not approve the bylaw.

Earlier this year, the Agricultural Land Commission stated that it 
considers the production of medical marijuana as being consistent 
with the definition of farm use under the ALC Act.

Letnick said the Ministry of Agriculture supports the ALC's position 
and that the ministry's position is that medical marijuana production 
in the ALR should not be prohibited by local governments.

A subsequent email from Letnick and Coralee Oakes, minister of 
community, sport and cultural development, states that while medical 
marijuana is considered an allowable farm use, those facilities are 
not eligible for farm classification for property assessment and tax 
purposes, which means they would be taxed at a higher rate than other 
agricultural businesses.

The positions from the province and ALC mean that as long as all 
requirements of Delta's zoning bylaws are met, the municipality 
cannot deny an application.

"This is a little bit shocking," said Coun. Ian Paton, adding that as 
long as a proponent meets all local, provincial and federal 
regulations they could build a "large brick block Fort Knox on farm 
property and begin a medical marijuana operation without us having a 
say in it."

Paton noted there is a medical marijuana facility on farmland on 
Vancouver Island, just past the Swartz Bay ferry terminal.

"It's quite a hideous sight, really."

New federal rules that took effect this spring change how medical 
marijuana is grown and distributed in this country. The regulations 
are aimed at allowing larger-scale operations over smaller, home-based ones.

Big dollars are at stake for those entrepreneurs fortunate enough to 
get federal and municipal approvals. According to Health Canada, the 
number of licensed medical marijuana consumers will rise to more than 
300,000 in the next decade, a 10-fold increase from today.

Mayor Lois Jackson earlier this year said the large number of 
home-based medical marijuana grow-ops have caused many problems, so 
the move toward larger, more controlled and supervised facilities is 
a good one. However, they are not an appropriate use on farmland, she said.

Delta has this year already approved two medical marijuana facilities 
in industrial areas - an 11,400-square-foot operation on Vantage Way 
in Tilbury and a 25,000-square-foot operation on Foster's Way on Annacis Island.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom