Health Canada officials who faced a room full of civic politicians at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention were drilled with questions about the federal government saddling cities and towns with policing costs associated with medical marijuana.
Kamloops Coun. Ken Christian said from the Vancouver conference Tuesday the new medical marijuana rules go into effect next March that outlaw the homegrown supplies that have been allowed in the past.
Instead, Health Canada is issuing a maximum of 75 medical marijuana grow licences that require commercial-type production with 24-7 surveillance and other strict measures.
Christian said municipalities across Canada are still left with the fallout from the failed, personal licence rules for medical marijuana.
“They got a pretty rough ride. I think the general consensus of the group was the legacy of all of these backyard licensed marijuana grows is a big mess that municipalities are going to have to clean up,” he said.
“I think they found the error in their ways with the previous rules they had in place. But they’re not doing much to clean up the damage that’s been done to homes, the mould and odour and criminal element that was attracted.”
Next March, medical marijuana users will have to buy the product from an approved grower and it will be distributed via specified shipping methods.
Christian said several municipal representatives expressed anger over additional policing costs that home grows have incurred, especially since Health Canada isn’t notifying cities or their police forces about who is licensed.
“People from the District of Mission were saying there are 700 licensed grows there. Health Canada refuses to tell us how many there are in Kamloops because they say it’s a breach of the medical confidentiality,” he said.
Coun. Arjun Singh said the information presented made sense in that medical marijuana will be more regulated and there won’t be issues around people having grow ops in their homes without knowledge or understanding of how to vent them to avoid mould and building damage.
However, buying from producers means the cost of medical marijuana will go up and there are questions around how effective it will be, he said.
Singh said that personally, he believes the regulations needed some tightening, but the situation is dicey because illegal pot can be readily accessed.
The City of Kamloops has drafted a zoning bylaw that would keep medical marijuana grow ops in industrial parts of town. That bylaw is expected to go out to a public hearing for input this fall.
Christian expected council will face an angry audience just as the Health Canada officials did.
“I think there will be a lot of people there cheesed off about the federal regulations who will take it out on City council. Which isn’t fair, they need to take that up with their federal representative, (Kamloops MP) Cathy McLeod.”