B.C. cities are once again demanding Health Canada give them the addresses of licensed medical marijuana growers so they can mount inspections in the name of public safety.
The resolution from Abbotsford – a repeat of past years' requests – was passed Wednesday by the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler, despite opposition from some delegates over privacy concerns.
Cities fear unpermitted alterations, illegal rewiring and mould pose a risk not just to current residents but those who may in the future buy former grow-ops that aren't remediated.
"The safety of our residents and the safety of people buying these homes has to be paramount," Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman told the convention.
The federal government is moving to a commercial mail order model of medical marijuana production, but that strategy is on hold pending court challenges from medical pot users.
While Ottawa expects the legacy medical pot growers to voluntarily comply with the change and stop growing their own plants – if the new system is upheld – many cities doubt that will happen given the number of licensed users.
Banman said there are 829 licensed medical growers in Abbotsford and more than 900 – representing 20 per cent of the homes – in nearby Mission.
"That's a lot of glaucoma in my books," said Banman, who has been a steady critic of the federal government's refusal to identify the sites.
He said there are just four Health Canada inspectors to check licensed medical home grows in all of western Canada, adding they could not inspect all of the licensed sites in Abbotsford alone if they were dedicated to his city for a year.
Metchosin Coun. Moralea Milne said if the more than 1,700 licensed medical growers in Abbotsford-Mission are an indication that "we should be legalizing that stuff if that many people are growing it."
Central Kootenay Regional District director Andy Shadrack agreed with calls for legalization and concerns around privacy.
"On no other health issue do we go into people's homes and say you're not doing things right."
UBCM passed dozens of other resolutions Wednesday, including:
- A Langley City call for the province develop a method to compensate cities for the time their firefighters spend on medical first responder calls that have increased as a result of provincial downgrading of ambulance response to lower priority 911 calls.
- A Vancouver resolution urging the province to regulate the party bus industry.
- A call for Canada Post to delay its planned termination of direct home mail delivery.
- A request from Maple Ridge that the province exempt up to $300 a month of child support from income assistance clawback rules on earned income.