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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN BC: Pot Growers Don't Like Proposed Bylaw
Title:CN BC: Pot Growers Don't Like Proposed Bylaw
Published On:2012-01-20
Source:Coast Reporter (CN BC)
Fetched On:2012-01-22 06:01:01

Medical Marijuana Meeting

Growers of medicinal marijuana for personal use don't want to be
restricted to an industrial or agricultural area to grow because they
can't afford it. That was the assertion from home growers who
attended the District of Sechelt's medical marijuana zone
consultation meeting Jan. 17.

About 20 people, some growers, some community members who live nearby
legal grow-operations, came out to the meeting Tuesday night to have
their say on the District's new proposed bylaw.

That bylaw, which is a work in progress and may be changed, suggests
creating specific zones for growing medicinal marijuana in
agricultural or industrial zoned areas.

The proposed bylaw comes after an application was made to the
District to grow medicinal marijuana commercially in an industrial
zone. Currently marijuana production is not an allowed use in industrial areas.

The proposed new bylaw defines medicinal marijuana production as "the
growing, harvesting, packaging or dispensing of marijuana as
authorized under the federal marijuana medical access regulations."

Currently those regulations don't say anything specific about where
marijuana can be grown. The majority of those who came out to
Tuesday's meeting said they grow at home.

"It costs a lot of money for the equipment and stuff to grow medical
marijuana and if you made it so I would have to grow it somewhere
else, I wouldn't be able to get my medication at all," one man said,
noting it would cost too much to rent or buy another space and equip
it to grow.

But Sunshine Coast RCMP and Coast firefighters say they want to see
those grow-ops moved for safety reasons.

"The fire departments' position on the Coast, and we're united in
this, is that as much as we can if we can start with getting the
legal ones out of people's homes that's a good thing, that's a safe
thing for the firefighters and other first responders like the
police," said Sechelt fire chief Bill Higgs.

Higgs said that the unfused electrical wiring in most grow-ops is a
severe safety hazard for firefighters who have no way of knowing if a
fire they're responding to is a grow-op or not.

"People aren't very forthcoming with that information," Higgs added.

Sgt. Mike McCarthy was also at the meeting to support the proposed
bylaw and explain the need for change.

"The benefit I can see to [the proposed bylaw] is that just in the
last year and a half there have been five illegal entries into
medicinal grow-ops in the community. Two of those were with violence.
One there was actually a family that was tied up and held at
gunpoint," McCarthy said.

"So in that short period of time, that's really a high potential for
violence. And ultimately, if it were to continue, there's a
significant chance that death could occur in a situation like that.
So we feel like if it were to be taken out of areas with families,
that would reduce and mitigate the risks."

Two people noted that families also live in agricultural areas and
suggested that part of the proposed zoning be taken out, leaving only
industrial zones for medicinal grows.

Some felt there should be a separate bylaw for home growers than for
commercial growers and asked for the District's support of home
growing by giving information to those who ask about how to do it properly.

In the end, resident Maryanne Smith came up with an innovative answer
for home growers.

"Would the city of Sechelt be willing to somehow subsidize an area
for these people to come into so they can grow it all in one
industrial area? And people pay fees to use that just like any
community garden would have a membership and they would all have
their own licences," Smith said.

Many were intrigued by the idea, including community planner Andre
Boel, who was chairing the meeting.

"That's a great out-of-the-box solution. I don't really know what to
say about it yet. I have to think about it," Boel said.

Boel will compile the suggestions into a report for council's
consideration. From there, council will discuss possible changes or
request more research into the proposed bylaw.
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