RDEK amends medical marijuana bylaws

The RDEK took care of some housekeeping duties last Friday by giving third reading and adoption to medical marijuana bylaws.

The RDEK took care of some housekeeping duties last Friday by giving third reading and adoption to medical marijuana bylaws.

The bylaws in question were amended to allow the production of medical marijuana, however, the RDEK is still the authority for making land-use decisions.

“So that’s what these bylaws did, is they brought some conditions to say if you’re going to do it on your property—you need a federal permit to do it if you want to do the growing—this is where and how you can do it,” said Rob Gay, Area C director.

“It’s a federal permit, so they need to comply with that, but in that permit, they’re also told to advise the local government, be it regional or municipal that they are considering doing this in the area.

“We can’t say yes or no to it, but when they advise us, we say these are the rules under which you need to operate in our regional district. Because we have so many plans, we had to embed it in all our official community plans, which is why it was such a lengthly process.”

There were federal changes in the beginning of April that allowed large producers to begin growing medical marijuana. As per the Right to Farm act, the RDEK can’t necessarily forbid the production of medical marijuana, but they can set out a list of conditions that the operator must meet.

“Of course, it was brand new to us so we had to talk about it and see what it meant because with this, the rules are quite stringent,” said Gay. “It has to be fenced, because security is going to be an issue and we really saw it as more of an industrial thing. It should be close to town, there’s water, there’s power, there’s policing if necessary, so to have it way out in the bushes is another thing.”

The changes to the bylaws really amounted to housekeeping, added Gay, who noted that there wasn’t much public feedback between the second and third readings of the amendments.

“What we saw is that there wasn’t a lot of interest from the public, it was almost a housekeeping thing because we did have to have public hearings on this and had very few residents come out or very few people write letters to us about it,” Gay said. “I think it’s one of those things that if it was in your backyard and it was really going to happen, people would come out, but because right now, it’s saying ‘these are the parameters in which you can do it, if you get a license.’

“But nobody has a license, nobody’s applied for a license. It’s a planning issue at this point.”