Spallumcheen is looking at re-planting regulations for medical marijuana production.
The township had originally planned on permitting marijuana production facilities on industrial lands. But due to tax implications, Spallumcheen is now looking at permitting use on agricultural land.
“We don’t want to use up our prime industrial land,” said Mayor Janice Brown.
“So we’re going back to the drawing board and we will include A2 agricultural land.”
The township wants to assist the existing operations, but must also consider the impact on area residents.
“In each community, you probably only have a few (medical marijuana production facilities),” said Brown.
“We’re trying to make it away from residential.”
But adding agricultural zones to the bylaw could ignite more public concern.
“Just about every property in Spallumcheen has a farm next to it or is a farm.”
One local grower says neighbours have never raised concern with the Spallumcheen operation, which ships less than 500 pounds of product annually.
“We have been operating a legal facility for more than a year without our neighbours being aware of its existence,” the grower (whose name is withheld for privacy) wrote in a letter to the township. “Concerns about smells, traffic and security are misplaced as are many of the other reasons used by those that are opposed.”
Spallumcheen also received comments from other licensed growers, as well as local agencies.
One major reason for Spallumcheen’s decision to include agricultural land is the Agricultural Land Commission’s stance.
“If a land owner is lawfully sanctioned to produce marijuana for medical purposes, the farming of said plant in the Agricultural Land Reserve is allowed and would be interpreted by the ALC as being consistent with the definition of ‘farm use’ under the ALC Act.”
BC Assessment has also confirmed that the portions of a property used for medical marijuana production meeting farm classification requirements will be granted farm class.
Spallumcheen is also weighing input from other agencies.
Interior Health has stated: “wherever possible medical marijuana operations be located away from residential areas (e.g. in industrial or agricultural zoned areas) to avoid creating a potential nuisance.”
The RCMP has stated: “Regardless of the new (medical marijuana production) regulations, I believe there are still added health and security risks associated to marijuana production facilities which may pose a greater risk to neighbours if approved on small ALR properties.”
The bylaw changes mean there will be another public hearing.
Final approval will also have to come from provincial ministry levels.