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Medical marijuana grow-op licenses tough to get

Strict security would be required for any medical marijuana grow-op and would likely be in an industrial area. - Pirjo Raits
Strict security would be required for any medical marijuana grow-op and would likely be in an industrial area.
— image credit: Pirjo Raits

Mike Hicks wants to tell the mayor of Richmond that Otter Point would be happy to supply all of Richmond’s medical marijuana requirements. Just recently Richmond council banned medical marijuana grow-ops fearing there could be a proliferation of such operations.

Mike Hicks, regional director for the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area, doesn’t think this would be a problem for in the Juan de Fuca EA.. Only four licenses to grow, process and sell medical marijuana have been issued all across Canada.

“I don’t see them springing up all over,” said Hicks.

But if licenses are approved, a grow-op could be located in Otter Point. It is understood that the licenses to produce will be up to local government through their zoning. The province, said Hicks, will allow medical grade marijuana to be grown on ALR land. Hicks wants to consider grow-ops as intensive agriculture and by doing so any operation would have to adhere to large setbacks on agricultural land. The setbacks would be a 90m setback from the front and 30m on the side.

Sooke’s setbacks are 30m front and back and Metchosin’s are 60m on the front and 30m on the side. Grow operations could also be considered in industrial zones.

“We’re going to send that out for referral to our Agricultural Advisory Committee. Maybe our setbacks are too much. If you can meet that requirement — there you go, or you could ask for a variance.”

He said just because the federal government came up with a plan it doesn’t mean getting the correct zoning will be easy. Getting the zoning is not a right, it’s a privilege, stated Hicks.

Hicks does not want to see any “concrete bunkers.”

Currently there is an application in for a grow-op and processing facility in the industrial park in Otter Point. This would require the applicants to go through a rezoning process which includes consultation with any neighbours. The facility will not be a drive-to dispensary, any medical marijuana will be sent out to the customer. Everything is accountable to the government.

The applicants are a group of builders, doctors and pharmacists. The facility could employ up to 10 people, said Hicks.

With the  federal government about to change regulations in regard to medical marijuana grow operations it doesn’t mean everyone who applies for a license to grow and process marijuana will get the chance.

The regulations are extremely strict. Criminal record checks, security cameras monitoring everything and every square inch, intensive reports, safety features, types of clothing, etc. Every single scrap off the marijuana plants are accounted for as is the amount shipped from the facility.

“We like the way Health Canada has done this,” said Ian Laing, one of the partners in the proposed grow facility. “It’s done in a good way, it’s so hard it will weed people out.”

“Personally, I’m totally supportive of this, if it can be done it will be less obtrusive than a dairy farm,” Hicks said.

At the end of the day the ALR definition of intensive agriculture as it applies to medical marijuana production and the zoning application have been sent out for referrals which includes;  the District of Sooke, the JdF Agricultural Advisory Committee and the Otter Point Advisory Planning Committee.

“We didn’t deny, we didn’t okay, it’s gone out into the river of consultations. It will take six months of so,” said Hicks.

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