West Kelowna council has given initial approval to new rules about the commercial production of medical marijuana in the city.
According to the the city, the zoning bylaw amendments further regulate, and provide clarity for, commercial medical marijuana facilities in West Kelowna.
The amendments exclude marijuana being grown in a greenhouse or nursery, which the planning department says will reduce confusion and ensure all commercial production, processing, storage and distribution falls within a single definition and associated zoning regulations.
The amendments require air filtration and security provisions for commercial marijuana facilities, including the personal or designated production for more than one registrant on a premises, not including residential premises being used for the production, processing or storage of marijuana for the medicinal use of a resident of that premises. It also requires commercial production facilities and distribution centres to be located in light-industrial areas only.
The changes do not address what are known as “dispensaries” —shops where marijuana is sold openly. According to the RCMP, despite their existence in the city and in other cities across B.C., they illegal under the current law. and anyone operating one or working in one could be charged with trafficking drugs.
“I’m glad to see (dispensaries) are on the radar,” said West Kelowna Coun. Rick De Jong.
The federal Liberal government has said it is looking at legalizing marijuana in Canada, and West Kelowna’s new land-use rules try and deal with both the current and the potential future situation.
But De Jong said he was opposed to any plan for the possible future legalization of marijuana.
He said the city should strictly deal with what needs to be done now under the current law.
With the city receiving many inquires about the rules for commercial production of marijuana, he said he did not want to see the number of dispensaries grow.
According to the city, the intent of the amendments given initial approval by council Tuesday is to improve public security and reduce nuisance to surrounding properties.
The proposed bylaw changes are expected to facilitate a discussion in the community about commercial medical marijuana land-use implications and was prompted by the large number of inquiries about business ventures regarding production facilities, said a staff report.
During council’s discussion, it was also revealed the cities of Kelowna, Vernon, Penticton and West Kelowna a have all teamed up to try and come up with a regional approach to rules governing commercial medical marijuana production. Kelowna city council dealt with the issue last year introducing similar land-use rules for commercial production.
West Kelowna’s draft bylaw will be now be sent to referral agencies, including the RCMP, for comment and presented to the city’s Advisory Planning Commission before heading back to council for second reading.
If it receives second reading, the draft bylaw will then go to a public hearing and depending on what council hears from the public, could then receive final approval.