Marijuana growing in residential neighbourhoods will no longer be allowed, under new Langley Township regulations given preliminary approval by council on Monday, Feb. 3.
The changes to the property safety bylaw would impose a fine of up to $10,000 a day on anyone who currently has a medical marijuana production licence if they continue cultivating pot plants after March 31, when all of the small-scale growing licences issued by the federal government are set to expire.
Under new medicinal marijuana regulations that take effect April 1, growing will switch from the current system of small operations with one or two clients to larger commercial-style bulk growing.
The planned Langley Township ban on residential pot growing will apply to “the growth, planting, cultivation, manufacture, storage, transfer or disposal of a controlled substance, including marijuana, unless that person is authorized to do so pursuant to a commercial licence.”
The measure won unanimous approval with little debate.
Councillor Charlie Fox called it “a very progressive step.”
The Township also wants to ban marijuana production on the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) that makes up 75 per cent of the Township, but has yet to get a response from the provincial government to the proposed regulation that would restrict growing to industrial areas.
The Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), the 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.
Mayor Jack Froese has scheduled a meeting with the minister later this month in Victoria to discuss the matter.
As of mid-December, at least eight businesses, seven of them located on agricultural land, had expressed interest in growing medicinal marijuana in Langley Township.
One of the would-be Langley growers, Koch Greenhouses owner Bruce Bakker, has called the attempt to restrict medicinal marijuana cultivation to industrial areas “troubling” because, he says, the ban was drafted without consulting farmers.