Grow-op advocate cannot cultivate city support
The former operator of a medical marijuana club was hoping to cultivate support from city council for a legal grow operation in town, but was ultimately left in the weeds.
Carl Anderson, the former operator of the Canadian Safe Cannabis Society in Kamloops, asked council on Tuesday, Jan. 24, to consider allowing himself and a group of others with medical pot licences to lease a piece of property to grow the plant.
Specifically, the plan was to lease a commercial building with four units and have 14 marijuana-growing licences in the location.
The problem for Anderson, however, is the group would have to go through the proper rezoning and public-hearing process before it could operate.
It's a step Anderson believes he shouldn't have to take and didn't want to go through.
He contended a public hearing would make the location known to the public, creating a target for crime.
"It just compromises the security so much, it made it obviously not worth doing anymore," he said.
Instead, Anderson said, the group of medicinal-pot users will be forced to grow their plants in residential neighbourhoods, basements and backyards, putting the community at risk.
He argued the city's decision will inevitably lead to an increase in crime.
Anderson is convinced the property he is eyeing, which is zoned C4, allows for both nursery and manufacturing uses, activities he said would both qualify for what the group has planned.
David Trawin, the city's director of development and engineering services, noted the city agrees the group is legally allowed to operate a marijuana operation based on Health Canada guidelines, but called situation a land-use issue.
He said the existing zoning refers to retail sales for nursery products.
As for the manufacturing argument, Trawin said the city checked with its lawyers and was told "manufacturing" is used by Health Canada as a colloquial term in reference to growing marijuana, not an actual use.
Trawin said the city would have supported an indoor nursery under a temporary-use permit if an application went to a public hearing, but it can't change the process, which is governed by provincial law.
When Anderson asked council to consider his request, Mayor Peter Milobar told him the city doesn't have the ability to vary the process depending on what is being grown.
Anderson was the owner of a North Shore compassion club, which was raided by police in November.