City of Chilliwack is looking at a special industrial zone for medical marijuana growing operations. A public hearing is set for Aug. 20.

City of Chilliwack is looking at a special industrial zone for medical marijuana growing operations. A public hearing is set for Aug. 20.

Zoning changes on deck in Chilliwack for medical pot growers

Zoning changes for medical marijuana operations are going to public hearing at city hall on Aug. 20 in Chilliwack.

 

Medical marijuana growing in Chilliwack might be restricted to a special industrial zone by next spring.

Proposed changes would mean that medical grow-ops could only operate legally within the M6 zone — to the exclusion of all other zones in Chilliwack.

The idea by city officials was to be “proactive,” said Coun. Chuck Stam, in the face of changes coming to the medical pot rules.

“It will give some certainty for those interested in getting involved, as well as for those already on edge about the idea,” he said.

The zoning changes in Chilliwack would also mean that medical grow-ops could not be located on agricultural lands.

“That would be out of the question if the amendment passes, and council endorses it,” said Stam.

Zoning changes are going to public hearing on Aug. 20 in Chilliwack.

Asked what other municipalities are doing to prepare for the shift in the rules, he said:

“It’s all over the map. Some are ignoring it because they don’t think it will be a factor for them.”

But Chilliwack has already had ample experience, and a range of public-safety concerns with medical grows, he said.

“Every municipality has their own reasoning and experiences around this,” he said. Some have little to no experience with medical pot operations, whereas Chilliwack has busted several for irregularities.

The discussions have gone full circle at the council level, Stam said, having looked at everything from banning them outright, to allowing them on ag land.

The “special” M6 zone is geared specifically to those with “the potential to be environmentally incompatible” with residential or commercial uses.

The related zoning amendments first received introduction and first reading on July 16.

The rules used to be known as Medical Marihuana Access Regulations (MMAR), but will eventually fall under the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR). Ottawa announced in January plans to phase out individual licences for medical marijuana users to grow pot in their own homes and instead have all medical pot grown and distributed by highly regulated, secure commercial operators.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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