A bunker-like medical marijuana growing facility on Vancouver Island was approved before legalization of recreational marijuana was declared across Canada last year, sparking concerns that farmland would be covered with concrete and greenhouses to meet demand. (Black Press Media)

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana crops ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

B.C.’s local government organization says it was blindsided by a provincial policy change that declared all cannabis production in the Agricultural Land Reserve as farm use.

The Union of B.C. Municipalities found out in early May that a regulation change in February means the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) is no longer dealing with applications to grow cannabis.

Farming communities around the province have pressed the B.C. government to protect farmland from large greenhouse complexes for legal marijuana taking up the province’s scarce food-growing land. ALC regulations prevent concrete pads from being put on farmland to grow marijuana, and now the change leaves local governments with the task of controlling how much farmland is covered by cannabis fields grown in soil.

READ MORE: Farmland protection petition reaches B.C. legislature

READ MORE: Saanich to smoke out pot bunkers in farmland reserve

“UBCM was not consulted on the legislative and regulator change that have changed the characterization of cannabis production in the ALR,” UBCM president Arjun Singh said in a letter to B.C. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson this week.

“As it appears that many local governments were unaware of the change to consider all cannabis production as farm use, and that consequently the ALC would no longer be considering applications for cannabis production, the amendments have had the effect of creating a three-month gap in which some forms of cannabis production may have been unregulated in terms of ALC oversight and/or local government land use regulations.

“Given the requirements for creating or amending local government bylaws, it is foreseeable that this gap could continue to exist for many more months.”

The UBCM executive is also writing to Agriculture Minister Lana Popham, asking why the change was not communicated to local governments, and the status of applications that the ALC may have received for non-farm-use cannabis production since February.

The UBCM is also still waiting for word on a revenue sharing formula with the province and local governments for legal cannabis sales. The B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch still has only one cannabis store, and private stores have slowly been opening around B.C. as federally licensed suppliers have struggled to keep up with demand.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Record-tying sturgeon nabbed near Mission

The 11’4 fish is tied for the largest “tag and released” white sturgeon on the Fraser River

Man sentenced for 2018 stabbing incident in Mission

Kyle Kollman pleads guilty to charge of assault causing bodily harm

Son of slain former Hells Angel is one of two men sentenced for crime spree

Pair’s 2017 series of Lower Mainland robberies stretched from Surrey to Mission

Smoke, Fire & Thunder returns to Mission Raceway Park

The annual event takes place Aug. 23-25.

Water fee increase for Hemlock Valley waiting on written hearing

Residents will get until Sept. 17 to provide their comments and concerns

VIDEO: Could we BE any more excited? ‘Friends’ fans go crazy for merch

Movie theatres will show select episodes to mark the NBC series’ 25th anniversary

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

VIDEO: Organization’s stolen wheelchair van recovered on backroad near Hope

Wheelchair accessible van is only transportation for some people in Hope area

Officials say 50 Oppenheimer Park residents have agreed to leave, as deadline looms

Residents have been told they must be gone by 6 p.m. on Aug. 21

Five hedgehogs quickly adopted after being left at BC SPCA

Lucky new owners picked up their pets from Maple Ridge branch on Aug. 20

B.C. cricket players get interrupted by racist remark

Community has had protocols in place for years to respond to prejudice

Groovy B.C. wedding a throwback to Woodstock ‘69

Couple hosts themed wedding 50 years after legendary festival

‘Do the right thing,’ implores sister of South Surrey stabbing victim

IHIT confirms male arrested in connection with Paul Prestbakmo’s death no longer in custody

Most Read