Lake Country looks to limit medical marijuanna grow operations

Municipality will look into ways its zoning could keep medical grow ops in one general area

Another Okanagan community wants to ensure medicinal marijuana isn’t grown everywhere.

Lake Country council is amending bylaws so medicinal marijuana grow-operations are only allowed in the general industrial and heavy industrial zones and not in areas designated for agriculture.

“There are so many places with agricultural land and if they put in a grow-op, it’s quite noticeable in the neighbourhood,” said Mayor James Baker of the potential conflict between such facilities and residents.

Lake Country’s actions come at the same time that Spallumcheen has insisted it only wants medicinal marijuana production in industrial zones.

However, there has been concern that the federal government may not accept the limitations of a civic bylaw. There could also be a conflict with the provincial Agricultural Land Commission, which has classified medicinal marijuana as a permitted use in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Legal counsel for Lake Country believes it’s essential for municipalities to take a stand.

“The federal government has indicated that it will respect local government zoning when determining whether to issue production licenses,” said Sara Dubinsky, with Lidstone and Company.

“For this reason, it is critical that local governments wanting to regulate or prohibit the location of commercial producers within their borders act promptly to enact the requisite zoning. Failure to do so could result in medical marijuana production facilities being grandparented and permitted as a lawful, non-conforming use.”

While the ALC has designated marijuana as an agricultural crop, Baker is convinced large production facilities could be detrimental to ensuring food security.

“A lot of land has gone into grapes for wine and we don’t need more going to a product that isn’t food,” he said.