A variety of concerns came up at the June 5 public hearing on a bylaw that would limit medicinal marijuana production for multiple licences to industrial areas in Sechelt.
Some residents were concerned the change could label Sechelt as “the drug capital of B.C.,” while others said the title has already been bestowed upon the municipality.
Some wanted to see the usage limited to areas within the agricultural land reserve (ALR) while others were happy to see it restricted to industrial areas, saying it could be patrolled more easily by police.
Danny Owsnett, a pot activist and owner of the 420 Hemp Shop, said the new bylaw was “totally unnecessary” and would, “take away the rights of some very, very sick people.”
“People may think I’m in favour of this; unfortunately, I am not in any way in favour of this,” he said.
Owsnett said current federal regulations around medicinal marijuana allow people with two mailing addresses to hold two licences and grow in their homes, pointing out that can equate to more than a hundred plants.
But he said the new bylaw would force people with multiple licences to set up shop in industrial areas, at their own expense.
“It’s totally inequitable,” he said.
One woman said the change would help her feel more safe in her neighbourhood, adding there is a grow op not far from her that has impacted the “safety and security” of the area and has negatively affected property values.
“If we can move it into an industrial area where it is monitored and where it’s safer, but people are still able to get their medication, that is a huge bonus. I support that,” she said.
Sechelt resident Walter Tripp didn’t want to see the usage pushed to industrial zones. Instead, he expressed desire to see marijuana production for multiple licences in the ALR.
“You are pumping the industrial zoning at the expense of the ALR. Is Sechelt prepared to compensate ALR landowners for the lost property value and the loss of future opportunity that this bylaw is going to reflect on? I doubt it,” he said. “In a very short time, B.C. will probably be growing medical marijuana for the world. It’s going to make Holy Crap look like a breakfast cereal.”
Farmer Jon Bell, who lives within the ALR, said he is firmly against growing marijuana there.
“To say that we can grow it in a greenhouse on the other side of a field, a sheet of glass will not stop anyone coming to harvest at night. I’m sorry, but if you have a legal grow op or an illegal grow op, it has to be a fortress mentality,” Bell said. “You have to stop people from getting in to harvest your crop and taking it away because that’s exactly what will happen.”
At the end of the public hearing, it was noted that council can no longer accept any information on the proposed bylaw and that they will consider third reading and adoption of the new bylaw at a future council meeting.
The new bylaw would permit medical marijuana production for multiple licences in I-3, I-5, I-6 and I-7 industrial zones and would prohibit it in all other zones.