It will soon be illegal for authorized medical marijuana users to grow their own. They're supposed to shut down home grows and buy instead from large-scale commercial producers.

B.C. cities aim to dig out medical marijuana home growers

Hundreds face enforcement this spring as old pot production licences expire

Some B.C. cities are vowing to do what they can to uproot licensed medical marijuana grow operations in homes that will become illegal this spring as federally approved large-scale commercial growers take over.

As of April 1, an estimated 11,500 B.C. medical marijuana grow operations that have been run by or on behalf of federally licensed users are supposed to shut down voluntarily but civic leaders say Health Canada is doing almost nothing to force them to comply.

“It’s an absolute gong show,” Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman said. “They’re keeping cities completely in the dark as to what they plan to do to fix this mess.”

Abbotsford, Port Coquitlam, Surrey and some other cities that have identified some medical marijuana grows – through safety inspections or police raids that were called off when they turned out to be licensed – plan to take steps to ensure they shut down.

Banman said Abbotsford is aware of approximately 100 currently legal grows and Abbotsford Police will likely follow up with them in the spring, but added there are at least 700 more at unknown locations that Health Canada won’t disclose.

Surrey has for years used fire safety inspection teams to root out illegal pot grow ops, usually targeted based on excessive power consumption or neighbourhood complaints.

Deputy fire chief Dan Barnscher said Surrey’s teams have uncovered nearly 300 licensed medical grows, most of them in the past two years.

As in Abbotsford, that’s just the tip of the iceberg – Surrey has learned through Access to Information requests that the city is home to nearly 900 medical pot grows that are soon to become illegal.

“There’s an expectation they will be doing a complete cleanup and remediation of their property,” Barnscher said. “We’re going to give them a timeline to do that. We’re not going to show up on April 1 or 2nd.”

He said remediation work must be verified by a city-approved industrial hygenist and restoration professional to ensure they don’t leave behind an electrical fire trap or dangerous mould for future residents.

Barnscher concedes there’s nothing to stop those licensed growers from moving to elude authorities, but added they will no longer have Health Canada protection if the grow-op is found again in Surrey at a new location.

Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said his staff will soon pull together an action plan to respond to the estimated 600 to 700 medical pot grows in his city.

“I don’t know how realistic it is to expect those people to voluntarily shut down and start ordering it legally from Pete’s Pothouse,” Daykin said.

Cities are also wary of recently launched legal action.

Medical marijuana users hope a constitutional challenge launched by Abbotsford lawyer John Conroy will strike down part of the new federal regulations on medical marijuana or at least force an extension of the April 1 deadline while the case is before the courts.

Conroy’s application to exempt or grandfather in existing holders of personal production or designated grower licences is expected to be heard in early February.

Users fear it will cost them much more to buy from authorized commercial sellers than it has to grow their own.

Saskatoon-based CanniMed, one of the first producers to be licensed and begin shipments, is selling its medical pot for $7.50 to $12 per gram.

Lower Mainland cities have taken varied approaches on where they will allow new approved growers to set up highly regulated, secure medical pot growing operations.

Maple Ridge is allowing them only in agricultural areas, while Delta, Langley Abbotsford and Kelowna are opposing medical pot as an allowed use on farmland.

Just Posted

Injury-plagued Thunder return to LEC to face the Shamrocks

In Langley’s seven losses, they have allowed the opposition to rattle off scoring runs

Private school planned for site off Fraser Highway

The 60-student school would be located near 232nd Street and Fraser Highway

More than naming a week is needed to tackle second-hand smoke in B.C. activist says

Langley mom who campaigned for tougher anti-smoking laws applauds gesture but wants more

Tree bylaw tweaked, but passed by Langley Township council

Councillors debated changes to the tree protection rules

VIDEO: Plane veers into ditch on takeoff from Langley Airport

Fire, ambulance, and police were called to scene

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

Fate of accused in Canadian couple’s 1987 killings in jury’s hands

William Talbott’s lawyer says DNA doesn’t prove murder

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Cat badly hurt in animal trap was likely stuck for days, B.C. owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit in new lease agreement

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson called the updated lease an exciting new chapter for the aquarium

Okanagan RCMP bike patrol rolls up on alleged stolen vehicle from Burnaby

The driver, a 30-year-old Kelowna man, has been held in custody and is facing possible charges of possession of stolen property and obstructing a police officer

Man arrested after pimping investigation in Whistler

A 44-year-old man has been charged with procuring and benefiting from sexual services

Most Read