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A growing interest in marijuana production
At least eight businesses want to grow medicinal marijuana in Langley Township.
Mayor Jack Froese made the disclosure during debate on a proposed bylaw that would ban commercial marijuana production from the Agricultural Land Reserve that makes up 75 per cent of the Township.
The bylaw would restrict growing to industrial areas.
Froese said seven of the eight known proposed commercial grow ops would be located in the ALR, a fact that lends some urgency to the proposed ban.
“Time is of the essence,” Froese said.
“We should have something in place.”
New federal government regulations that will take effect April 1 of next year will switch medicinal marijuana growing from the current system of small operations with one or two clients to larger commercial-style bulk growing.
Council gave final approval to the proposed ban on Monday (Dec. 16), but the regulation still has to be approved by the provincial ministry of agriculture which has final say over farming in the ALR.
So far, only one of the would-be Langley growers has gone public.
Koch Greenhouses owner Bruce Bakker came to Township council on Dec. 9 to call the attempt to restrict medicinal marijuana cultivation to industrial areas “troubling” and complain the ban was drafted without consulting farmers.
Two members of council thought the Township should slow down the approval process and take a second look at the regulations.
Councillor Bob Long said Langley should follow the example of Maple Ridge, which has done exactly the opposite by restricting medicinal marijuana to the ALR.
“Maple Ridge is going south and we’re going north,” Long said.
Councillor David Davis said the news that existing greenhouse operators are going into marijuana production helps address his concern that usable farmland would be lost to construction of fortress-like growing facilities.
“I don’t think the sky is going to fall,” Davis said.
“Not a lot is going to happen April 1.”
Davis and Long were unable to convince the rest of council.
“We discussed this [the bylaw],” Councillor Grant Ward said.
“We’ve got to move forward.”
“We have to do something,” Councillor Charlie Fox said.
“We can’t sit still and tread water on this one.”
The Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) the provincial agency that administers the ALR, recently declared that medical marijuana growing on agricultural land is protected under farming regulations that override the the Township of Langley’s authority.
However, the agriculture minister has yet to make a ruling.