Want to start up a legal grow op near Revelstoke in the future? You’ll need a lot of land and constant security should a regional district zoning bylaw pass as is.
The Columbia Shuswap Regional District added a new zoning designation for ‘Licensed Medical Marihuana Production Facilities’ to the latest version of the Area B zoning bylaw.
The legislation has come about after the federal government introduced new rules governing the production of medicinal marijuana. Under the new rules, users will no longer be able to grow their own product and only growers licensed by Health Canada will be able to sell medicinal pot.
“Without a zone in place, we wouldn’t know where they would be,” said Loni Parker, the director for Area B.
The bylaw outlines the conditions that must be met to zone a property for medical marijuana production:
— It must be licensed by Health Canada
— It must be contained in a building with 24-hour security
— It is designed to keep the impact on the environment, and exposure and disturbance to humans to a minimum
— It must be on a parcel of land at least 30 hectares (74 acres)
— Buildings on the land must be at least 50 metres from parcel borders
— They are only permitted on land zoned Special Industrial or that is within the Agricultural Land Reserve.
The Special Industrial zoning designation has been added to the bylaw specifically for medical marijuana facilities.
An OCP amendment and zoning bylaw amendment would be required before developing any facility.
Area B is the first region of the CSRD to have a medical marijuana zone placed into the zoning bylaw. Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks attended a CSRD meeting in June to talk about the new regulations.
Leslie Johnson, the head of the Eagle Valley Medical Marijuana Society, said the rules will make it so only big producers can manufacture medicinal marijuana.
“It kind of isolates it a little bit more who can do it,” he told the Times Review. Only people or businesses with the wherewithal to invest in the land and facilities required will be able to run a grow-op, unlike the current situation where anyone with a prescription can grow their own product at home.
The bylaw passed second reading at the CSRD’s monthly meeting on Aug. 15.
Both Johnson and Parker said they have not heard of anyone interested in opening a legal grow-op in the area.
Johnson said marijuana could very well be legalized, or at least decriminalized in the near future. A referendum initiative has been started in B.C. to decriminalize marijuana.
In other changes to the bylaw, an Outdoor Recreation zone was added to permit the move of the Revelstoke Rod and Gun club shooting range to a new location at the end of Westside Road.
The CSRD has also added conditions to Shelter Bay development that would require the development of amenities.
Open houses on the bylaw are scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 29, in Trout Lake from 12–2 p.m. and in Revelstoke from 7–9 p.m. Planning staff will give a presentation on the bylaw at the start of each open house.
The bylaw will now be sent out to senior levels of government for referral. It is possible elements of the bylaw could be changed based on their feedback.