Monday, April 8, 2013

Medical Marihuana in Langley

It would be fair to say that the City of Langley's council is not a fan of medicinal marihuana cultivation or distribution in its municipal boundaries. Back in 2011, a marihuana dispensary was opened in a live/work building along Fraser Highway in Downtown Langley which caused quite a stir. It resulted in Randy Caine, the operator of the dispensary, running for the mayors chair in the City during the last municipal election. As a result of the dispensary, the City explicitly banned all things related to marihuana in a 2012 zoning bylaw update. The only thing still permitted after the update was for those with a federal “personal use” licence to grow marihuana in their own home, or a person with a federal “designated person” licence to grow in their own home. As the federal government has recently overhauled medical marihuana regulations, people will soon only be able to legally get medical marihuana from a licensed commercial growers. The new federal rules also require that medical marihuana be obtained through direct secure delivery from the growers. Apparently store-front dispensaries will not be allowed.

As a result, the City of Langley will be looking at an amendment to the zoning bylaw tonight that will ban “the use of any premises for the cultivation, growing, production, packaging, storage, distribution, dispensing, trading or selling of cannabis (marihuana).” There will be no exceptions like under the current zoning bylaw. If passed, the new zoning bylaw will come into force in September 2013.

Interestingly enough, the City believes that the Agricultural Land Reserve is the perfect place for a commercial grow op. Since marihuana is a crop, it might be protected under BC’s agricultural regulation which means that the Township might be home to commercial-scale marihuana production whether that municipality wants it or not. According to the City of Langley:

Staff consider that this type of commercial use is more compatible within an agricultural land use designated area, that will cause the least amount of negative impact, and where greenhouse production supports capital intensive investments specifically designed to create a controlled environment conducive to predictable plant growth. Furthermore, since marihuana is a crop, it is permitted within the Agricultural Land Reserve, and is recognized as a farm use.

So while the City of Langley plans to ban anything related to marihuana, will the Township’s be getting a new cash crop?

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