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Agricultural land could see medical pot grow-ops

Chilliwack council has weighed in with an official response to the federal government on the subject of medical marijuana.

The 75-day comment period from Health Canada ends on Feb. 28, and proposed changes for the medical marijuana access regulations are expected by April 2013.

The shift in regulations will see an end to personal growing by licence-holders or proxy growers in favour of a system of commercial grow-operations run by licensed producers.

Council approved a recommendation to research the proposed changes to see if Chilliwack's building regulation bylaws and business licensing bylaws will require amendments, "to ensure that the proposed commercial medicinal grow operations are constructed and monitored in appropriately zoned areas; and further, that the safety and security of its citizens be considered its main focus and priority."

Chuck Stam said that he supported the recommendation but felt "this discussion was bigger than any one municipality," arguing it should also go to the Union of B.C. Municipalities, or LMLGA.

Council has received a legal opinion that medical grows would be permitted in the Agricultural Land Reserve, and that might "put pressure" on the ag community, Stam said.

The Chilliwack Agricultural Commission was another entity that should be consulted, the councillor suggested.

"I also want to hear from the agricultural community to see if they view it as an acceptable use of agricultural lands," he said after the meeting.

Coun. Jason Lum said that he would bring it up at the upcoming meeting of the Lower Mainland Local Government Association.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz questioned if agricultural land was the way to go, and said if medicinal marijuana was in fact a pharmaceutical product, it should be grown on industrial lands.

"That discussion needs to be had."

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

twitter.com/chwkjourno

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