It will soon be illegal for authorized medical marijuana users to grow their own. They're supposed to shut down home grows and buy instead from large-scale commercial producers.

B.C. cities aim to dig out medical marijuana home growers

Hundreds face enforcement this spring as old pot production licences expire

Some B.C. cities are vowing to do what they can to uproot licensed medical marijuana grow operations in homes that will become illegal this spring as federally approved large-scale commercial growers take over.

As of April 1, an estimated 11,500 B.C. medical marijuana grow operations that have been run by or on behalf of federally licensed users are supposed to shut down voluntarily but civic leaders say Health Canada is doing almost nothing to force them to comply.

“It’s an absolute gong show,” Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman said. “They’re keeping cities completely in the dark as to what they plan to do to fix this mess.”

Abbotsford, Port Coquitlam, Surrey and some other cities that have identified some medical marijuana grows – through safety inspections or police raids that were called off when they turned out to be licensed – plan to take steps to ensure they shut down.

Banman said Abbotsford is aware of approximately 100 currently legal grows and Abbotsford Police will likely follow up with them in the spring, but added there are at least 700 more at unknown locations that Health Canada won’t disclose.

Surrey has for years used fire safety inspection teams to root out illegal pot grow ops, usually targeted based on excessive power consumption or neighbourhood complaints.

Deputy fire chief Dan Barnscher said Surrey’s teams have uncovered nearly 300 licensed medical grows, most of them in the past two years.

As in Abbotsford, that’s just the tip of the iceberg – Surrey has learned through Access to Information requests that the city is home to nearly 900 medical pot grows that are soon to become illegal.

“There’s an expectation they will be doing a complete cleanup and remediation of their property,” Barnscher said. “We’re going to give them a timeline to do that. We’re not going to show up on April 1 or 2nd.”

He said remediation work must be verified by a city-approved industrial hygenist and restoration professional to ensure they don’t leave behind an electrical fire trap or dangerous mould for future residents.

Barnscher concedes there’s nothing to stop those licensed growers from moving to elude authorities, but added they will no longer have Health Canada protection if the grow-op is found again in Surrey at a new location.

Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said his staff will soon pull together an action plan to respond to the estimated 600 to 700 medical pot grows in his city.

“I don’t know how realistic it is to expect those people to voluntarily shut down and start ordering it legally from Pete’s Pothouse,” Daykin said.

Cities are also wary of recently launched legal action.

Medical marijuana users hope a constitutional challenge launched by Abbotsford lawyer John Conroy will strike down part of the new federal regulations on medical marijuana or at least force an extension of the April 1 deadline while the case is before the courts.

Conroy’s application to exempt or grandfather in existing holders of personal production or designated grower licences is expected to be heard in early February.

Users fear it will cost them much more to buy from authorized commercial sellers than it has to grow their own.

Saskatoon-based CanniMed, one of the first producers to be licensed and begin shipments, is selling its medical pot for $7.50 to $12 per gram.

Lower Mainland cities have taken varied approaches on where they will allow new approved growers to set up highly regulated, secure medical pot growing operations.

Maple Ridge is allowing them only in agricultural areas, while Delta, Langley Abbotsford and Kelowna are opposing medical pot as an allowed use on farmland.

Just Posted

Agassiz Community Gardens hoping to find new home at old McCaffrey school

The society has been looking for a new location since its previous gardens were sold in October

Kent looking to replace Ferny Coombe pool with indoor facility

The facility being built is dependent on grant funding from the province and federal government

B.C. storm totals $37M in insured damages

The December storm wreaked havoc on B.C.’s south coast

Escape room brings ‘out of the box’ activity to Agassiz

AESS alumni and teacher developed the concept to bring teamwork-based entertainment to the town

Hatzic man charged with assaulting Chilliwack RCMP officers

Jason Roberto Vatcher was out on bail facing firearms charges

B.C. opioid crisis to get same world-renowned treatment approach as HIV/AIDS

A program that focuses on treatment as prevention will roll out Jan. 17

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

Manure company causing ‘toxic’ stink at Abbotsford school seeks permit

Property across from King Traditional Elementary cannot operate manure facility without permit

Vancouver city council endorses free transit for youth

Mayor Kennedy Stewart will write a support letter to TransLink

Most Read