District of Kent discusses pot distributors

Public hearing set to discuss potential medical marijuana businesses

The way medical marijuana is grown in Canada is about to change, and municipalities are quickly writing up bylaws to regulate the industry in their own backyards.

On Monday night, Kent staff and council discussed ways they could both protect local neighbourhoods from large, industrial grow ops while providing options for potential industrial growth. The new, large scale medical marijuana growers will be looking for warehouse space between 30,000 and 100,000 square feet, while personal use licenses are being phased out. The new program takes effect on April 1, 2014.

Staff told council that they’ve already had a number of producers making inquiries about bringing a production to the District of Kent.

They gave two readings to a zoning amendment bylaw that would designate a special industrial zone and prohibit medical marijuana production in all zones, including agricultural land.

It would also allow for an auxiliary dwelling on site, for a caretaker.

The Agricultural Land Commission has said that they do approve of land owners who are lawfully sanctioned to produce marijuana for medical purposes using farm land, as it is consistent with the Right to Farm Act.

However, Kent staff underlined that agricultural tax rates are much lower, and the District wouldn’t benefit as greatly from having such a high demand product grown here.

The changes will mean no one will be legally allowed to grow marijuana in their own homes, due to abuses of the system and sheltering of illegal activity.

There will be a public hearing on the bylaw on Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. in council chambers.

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