The Thompson-Nicola Regional District board is likely to hold a vote on whether medical marijuana should be considered an agricultural crop after debating the issue in a workshop.
Coun. Ken Christian said Monday there was a recommendation that medical marijuana be allowed into agricultural zones. The discussion was at a TNRD workshop Friday.
“I voted against it, mainly because we’re not talking about farmgate sales here. We’re talking about the industrial production of a drug,” he said.
A medical-marijuana grow would be disruptive to a rural area, with 24/7 production and couriers coming and going to make deliveries and pickups, he said.
There was no official vote, as the debate was in a workshop, but Christian said he expects it to come forward at a regular meeting.
Last month, the City of Kamloops passed an amendment to its zoning bylaws requiring medical marijuana be restricted to industrial areas, under a list of restrictions and conditions.
“I would have preferred an arrangement similar to the city’s,” Christian said.
The board was told at the workshop that Agricultural Land Commission allows marijuana production on agricultural land.
“But they’re not the ones issuing the licence,” he said, referring to Health Canada, which is restricting the number of licences to 75 countrywide.
Coun. Tina Lange had a different take on the medical marijuana/agriculture debate.
During the City’s zoning discussion, she and Coun. Nancy Bepple felt medical marijuana should be categorized as agricultural.
“I thought it was interesting that the federal government has decreed that medical marijuana is an agricultural crop,” Lange said Monday.
“I thought farmers should be given a shot at it.”
The City has no way of prohibiting medical marijuana production on ALC lands, she said.
She also expected a motion to come out of the TNRD workshop discussion, but there was a concern about smaller lots in the ALC being used.
“We wanted a minimum parcel size, because there are two-acre lots in the ALC. We felt it was too small for two acres. But we cannot deny it,” Lange said.
“The discussion at City council was if they had farmland, they could come in for rezone. But if it’s ALC land, we can’t do anything about it.”
Lange said it would be a nice, clean renewable industry.
“It would be no different than a winery or a place that made prescription type drugs. Those are good jobs.”
Christian said many of those expressing an interest now are actually anticipating that the next step will be the legalization of marijuana.
“People are speculating down the road for if marijuana becomes decriminalized and regulated, they want to be ready for it as a cash crop. Right now, we’re dealing with a fairly strict rule.”