Pubdate: Thu, 21 Sep 2017
Source: Niagara Falls Review, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Niagara Falls Review
Author: Suzanne Mason
Page: A1


The impending legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada has
prompted Niagara-on-the-Lake town council to look into whether land
designated for specialty crops would be impacted.

A motion by Coun. Betty Disero that council request Niagara Region and
the province to develop a policy to protect these lands, which are
used for vegetables, tender fruit and grapes, from marijuana
greenhouses was defeated.

However, council approved sending Disero's motion to the town's
agricultural committee for some research and feedback on the issue.

Ottawa is expected to pass the Cannabis Act next July which will
legalize marijuana for recreational use in addition to the current
medicinal use.

Disero's motion states that the Ontario government is responsible for
land use in the province and the only two specialty crop areas are in
Niagara-on-the-Lake and Holland Marsh. "These specialty crop areas are
considered vital by the province and the greenbelt legislation has
indicated that (they) must be maintained … because of the increasing
population in Ontario."

The motion noted that the anticipated intrusion of recreational
marijuana greenhouses would be detrimental to the total acreage for
specialty crops if they were located there. Disero also requested that
staff and the agricultural committee report to council on an
appropriate distance between the two types of operations.

"We have a process. We use committees," said Coun. Jim Collard, who
supported sending the motion to the agricultural committee for
recommendations "with some thought put behind them."

"I think we're all on the same page," said Coun. Jamie King, but he
supported Collard's suggestion, saying "it has the potential to impact
landowners' rights."

Disero said she has attended agricultural committee meetings where
this issue has been discussed and she believes there is support for
the recommendations in her motion.

"Let's get started on this before by default we miss the boat," she
told councillors.

Council decided to refer the issue to the agricultural committee with
a request for a report for discussion at the next council meeting in

There is currently one large-scale medicinal marijuana greenhouse
operation located in the town. Tweed Farms owns the facility which is
considered the largest legal marijuana operation in Canada. It is
expected to double in size with the recent purchase of another
greenhouse and the expansion of its original greenhouses. Police have
laid charges at two other marijuana greenhouses that were operating on
Lakeshore and Larkin roads.
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