Make sure medical growops follow rules

Source: Maple Ridge News

Copyright: Black Press Digital

Contact: [email protected]


By: Phil Melnuychuk

Published: September 29, 2010

Make sure medical growops follow rules

Maple Ridge mayor Ernie Daykin is sure the district UBCM resolution on policing medical marijuana grow operations will get support at the annual convention.

They’ll be talking about medical marijuana grows, booze pricing and even musty old clauses in land sales agreements that hurt a city’s growth plans.

And it’s hoped other cities will see Maple Ridge’s point of view and adopt the resolutions and push the provincial government into action at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention this week in Whistler.

Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin is confident the resolutions will at least see the light of day.

"I’m sure we’ll get support on the medical marijuana grow thing because it is a challenge in a number of municipalities."

Surrey proposed the resolution last year, but it didn’t get any support.

Since then, the TAGS Medical Cannabis dispensary opened in Maple Ridge on 224th Street, south of Lougheed Highway.

Maple Ridge then wrote a letter to Health Canada expressing the same concerns about medical marijuana growops as an earlier resolution proposed by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

The resolution at Whistler will ask for the same thing – that the federal government figure out a way to ensure medicinal marijuana growops are following all the rules.

The resolution cites the risks of growing medicinal marijuana, which resemble the illegal operations – such as grow rips, health hazards to kids living in homes where marijuana is grown intensively, and the greater risk of fires and chemical spills.

Daykin said Kelowna, Langley and Parksville are facing the same issue as Maple Ridge, with dispensaries opening.

The current situation turns municipalities into the "default regulator," he said.

"We don’t have the manpower to go around monitoring growops."

The issue cropped up last year when Surrey asked that Health Canada to require medicinal marijuana grow operations to follow all electrical, health, fire and safety regulations.

That prompted a response from Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, explaining that her department does not verify compliance by medicinal marijuana users. Those responsibilities are stated when the person gets the licence, she said.

"I think the feds have put in a system that has no checks and balances," Daykin said.

So far, though, he knows of only two medical growops in Maple Ridge not following their licence requirements.

Daykin added he had no problem with sick people using marijuana to ease their suffering. But give it a drug identification number and sell it from a pharmacy, he suggested.

Coun. Cheryl Ashlie is particularly concerned about alcohol pricing in bars and stores that seems targeted at kids. Often, low-alcohol drinks are more expensive and the strong stuff and it should be the other way around.

She and the rest of Maple Ridge council want the provincial government to enact policies suggested by the Centre for Addictions Research of B.C.

She doesn’t want the government to do another study – which could delay things another decade.

Another resolution asks the province to change the Land Titles Act so that cities and towns can remove clauses that prohibit a particular use when a property is sold.

Often those covenants are put in place to prevent a retail competitor from later using the same property. However, the clauses can last for years and hurt municipal goals for development.

"That will be interesting to see how many other communities have that problem," said Daykin.

He’s also confident Maple Ridge’s resolution to ban the over-the-counter retail sale of pesticides gets passed.

"It’s one of those issues that have to be dealt with province-wide."

The district has banned the use of cosmetic pesticides in suburbs, but not their sale, because it doesn’t have the power to do so. Anyone who wants to use the chemicals must first get a permit from the district.

But the resolution says pesticides are "widely available with few restrictions … at a time when most communities have cosmetic pesticide bans in place."

The district also wants the government to spend more money to reduce ambulance response times. Currently, the B.C. Ambulance Service is only getting to half the calls in major areas under nine minutes, when its target is to make that time 90 per cent of the time.

The costs of policing are also on the agenda, as wages and technology costs climb.

Formation of a regional police force could be discussed, but Daykin likes the current system.

"I’m still not convinced that in the long-run that it is more cost effective."

He said recent events in the Ridge Meadows RCMP detachment area, a rape and murder, would have occupied the local detachment completely if there were no regional integrated specialized teams.

The range of resolutions is as varied as the cities within B.C. Maple Ridge also wants incentives to encourage accessible housing, while Pitt Meadows wants more secure mail boxes.

Vernon has come up with two ideas to make cycling a bit safer. It wants both senior governments to look at building trails right beside railway tracks, taking advantage of the right of way that’s already there so there are more paths for people to either walk or cycle.

It also wants the width of shoulders on highways increased to two metres, with a rumble strip separating the highway, to give more room for cyclists.

The convention whose theme is Forging Gold Medal Standards, wraps up Friday.