Thursday April 24, 2014

TNRD bylaw targets pot grow-ops

New rules approved for licenced medicinal marijuana plots

Rural residents plagued by grow-ops hope the TNRD's adoption of a medical marijuana bylaw will put an end to their woes.

Regional directors adopted the bylaw Thursday. It allows medical grow-ops on agricultural property in the Thompson-Nicola Regional District that's eight hectares in size.

If constructed on industrial land, the plot can be no smaller than four hectares.

A small group of residents from the 13-property Evergreen community near Heffley Creek attended a public hearing prior to the regional board meeting.

Donna Vernon spoke on behalf of residents, saying she and her neighbours have contended with illegal grow-ops for years.

She said one property was issued a licence to grow medicinal marijuana, and wondered if it could continue to function under the TNRD's bylaw.

Regina Sadilkova, the TNRD's director of development services, said all licences issued under the old medicinal marijuana guidelines — and there are thousands — will expire as of April 1.

"If somebody wants to continue, they will have to apply under the new regime and meet the new regulations," she said.

"If they are unlawful or not permitted, that is an enforcement issue."

The bylaw comes in the wake of federal changes to medical marijuana regulations that treat the narcotic like other drugs used for medical purposes. The regulations also streamline the application process for people to acquire the substance.

The TNRD received three consultation letters from the public: one opposed to the bylaw and two in favour. Sadilkova said Burnaby residents interested in starting a medicinal grow-op in the region wrote the two in favour.

The bylaw states medical grow-ops must be set back 50 metres from any property line and can't be erected inside a house.

If the bylaw deters people from setting up grow-ops in Evergreen, the residents approve, said Vernon.

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