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Bylaw sets stage for medical grow-ops

At Monday's regular meeting, Cranbrook City Council adopted a bylaw that will enable medical marijuana grow operations (MMGOs) to operate within industrial zones, in anticipation of new federal regulations concerning licensing of MMGOS.

"This zoning amendment will prepare Cranbrook with zoning and land use recommendations in advance of the federal legislative changes for MMGOs, taking effect on March 31 of this year," Acting Mayor Sharon Cross explained.

The bylaw was given first and second reading on January 20.

The amendment was referred to the Advisory Planning Commission and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for approval and a public hearing was held on Monday. No members of the public spoke to it.

The report indicated that there had been one general inquiry about the potential zoning changes. On January 29, the Ministry approved the proposed zoning amendment. The advisory commission also met and approved the plan.

Council members didn’t speak to the bylaw at the meeting. Mayor Wayne Stetski and Coun. Denise Pallesen were absent.

The federal government is introducing the new legislation as a result of Health Canada recommendations.

The new decentralized, commercial-scale production by private entrepreneurs comes as a major shift from the current policy, from 1999, which authorizes people with prescriptions for marijuana to grow up to 50 plants in their homes to meet medical needs. The federal government designated some of the growers to grow for up to four people, or up to 200 plants.

According to a newsletter in the agenda package, the number of people licensed to possess marijuana grew from 477 in 2002 to nearly 22,000 in 2012. Health Canada projected it would grow to 50,000 by 2014. According to the report, the current approach has lead to degraded residences which were not designed to be used as greenhouses.

The new approach transfers much more of the decision making over to the municipal government, whereas before the municipality would be in the dark as to where the medical marijuana grow-ops are currently located.

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