Grow-op operator unable to move

Legal battle over Health Canada licences makes it impossible to relocate

The owner of a medicinal marijuana grow-op in a Walnut Grove residential neighbourhood is following all applicable safety and ventilation regulations, said Township manager of bylaw enforcement Bill Storie.

That was the outcome of an inspection ordered after people living next to the house where the grow-op is located complained to the Township in August.

Storie told The Times that the owner of the facility is unable to move to another location because Health Canada has stopped issuing new medicinal marijuana growing licences.

The licence to grow marijuana is “specific to the address,” Storie said, meaning the operator would need a new licence to operate if he relocated.

The freeze on Health Canada marijuana growing licences came because of a court battle over a federal government plan to replace the hundreds of small legal growers with larger commercial-scale grow ops.

The more than 600 medicinal grow-ops in Langley (by Township estimate) were all supposed to close last year, when small-scale growing licences issued by the federal government were set to expire as part of the switch to large-scale bulk marijuana cultivation.

But when the small growers objected to being eliminated and went to court, they managed to obtain an injunction.

The Federal Court of Canada is expected to decide whether the injunction should be made permanent within the next few months, but whatever the decision, it will almost certainly be appealed, meaning it could be several years before the matter is settled.

Meanwhile, all municipalities, including the Township, can do is inspect grow-ops to make sure they have proper air filtering to reduce odours and don’t present fire or other safety hazards.

Residents of the Walnut Grove neighbourhood who complained about the grow-op told The Times they would have been better off it it was an illegal operation that could be closed down by police.

Margaret and her husband Paul live on one side of the grow-op, while Chris and Elizabeth live on the other (at their request, The Times is not using their last names nor divulging their addresses).

“I have no rights in this,” Margaret said.

Paul was concerned about the potential fire hazard posed by running a grow-operation in a house that is not designed to serve as a greenhouse.

Both couples expressed concern that criminals would discover the grow-op location and attempt to rob it.

“What if they (criminals) go to the wrong house?” Chris said.

“No one wants to help,” Elizabeth said.

Attempts by The Times to contact the owner of the grow op for comment were not successful.