Chilliwack thanks Health Canada for medical pot changes

"They created the mess but they also responded to the cities' request to take it out of the residential areas," said Coun. Chuck Stam

Chilliwack fires off thank-you letter to Health Canada for listening to the concerns of cities about the new medical pot growing rules.

A letter is on its way to Health Canada officials from City of Chilliwack this week to thank them for moving ahead so decisively on changes to the medical marijuana regulations.

Chilliwack officials say they were satisfied federal authorities listened to the concerns of municipalities on this subject in drafting new legislation on Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR).

Council has opted to restrict the operation of future medical-marijuana growing facilities in Chilliwack to special industrial zones.

A new regime comes into force in April 2014 which removes medical grow-ops from residential areas. Personal growers will no longer be issued licences and it shifts that responsibility solely to commercial growers.

“They have gone through a lot of heartache through this process,” said Coun. Chuck Stam, chair of the public safety committee. “They created the mess but they also responded to the cities’ request to take it out of the residential areas and have made those changes. I think they will continue to get heat over this as we move forward to the changeover dates.”

Health Canada needs to be thanked for listening, said the councillor. Council approved a motion to fire off a thank-you note at the last council meeting.

“The heavy lifting starts this spring,” said Stam. “So often we’re quick to criticize, but we wanted to be the ones in this case to send out an ‘atta boy’ as well.”

In the letter dated Nov. 25 and addressed to Health Minister Rona Ambrose and Health Canada, Mayor Sharon Gaetz thanked the ministry for the MMPR changes “that we felt were necessary for the safety of all concerned,” on behalf of the committee and council.

“It provides much more clarity for everyone involved and contains provisions that enable local governments to manage these operations more effectively,” Gaetz wrote. “Our municipality has always wanted to have more say in how this process operates, and we appreciate the new legislation has addressed this issue.”