Kelowna council doesn’t want to get mired in medical marijuana debate

Getting embroiled in a discussion on the merits and pitfalls of growing medical marijuana doesn’t appeal to the vast majority of local politicians, so a movement sparked in the Fraser Valley was finally snuffed out at its Kelowna stop Monday morning.

Getting embroiled in a discussion on the merits and pitfalls of growing medical marijuana doesn’t appeal to the vast majority of local politicians, so a movement sparked in the Fraser Valley was finally snuffed out at its Kelowna stop Monday morning.

“I just don’t think there’s a huge problem in Kelowna (with medical marijuana growers) and I don’t want city council dragged into a conversation about legalization,” said Coun. Graeme James at the meeting where he and his cohorts took a second whack at dealing with a request for support to put an end to medical marijuana growing in B.C. communities.

Mayors of the City of Langley and the Township of Langley wrote a letter in hopes of gaining momentum in their efforts to lobby Health Canada to cancel current licenses for medical marijuana growers and, in turn, have the product dispensed through licensed pharmacies by doctor’s prescriptions.

“As this is the practice for other controlled substances, such as methadone, we do not see why this cannot be done for medical marijuana,” read a letter circulated to B.C. municipalities.

It also explained the grow ops were threatening the health and safety of their communities for both attracting crime and also leaving physical devastation of properties where pot is grown.

While the issue isn’t as pronounced locally as it is in the Fraser Valley, where numerous politicians  have started speaking out, it’s not quite a non-starter either, said Coun. Angela Reid-Nagy.

But to some degree, she explained, problems ensuing from the practice can’t entirely be placed on the growers themselves as there have been complaints that Mounties are failing to be informed of the legal status of a grow op before they take action and of not enough follow through from Health Canada once a licence is issued.

“I’d like to make a motion to create a committee to solve the issue,” she said, pointing out that it should involve city staff, community members and the RCMP.

“We, at this table, aren’t knowledgeable to support this letter.”

Once input is garnered, she suggested that the city even come up with a building code of sorts to ensure that there is proper venting and electrical wiring among those who are licenced to grow.

By dealing with the issue that way, she said, the city would be taking a pro-active stance and there would be less issues to deal with after the fact.

No other councillors, however, were on the same page. While some admitted gathering more information could be worthwhile they were loath to go down that path.

“We’d be getting in over our head with something we don’t need to deal with,”  said Coun. Charlie Hodge.

Instead, council chose not to support the Langley effort and compose their own letter to Health Canada, the federal government and the RCMP asking them to deal with the health and safety issues involved with dealer established licences in municipalities.

kmichaels@kelownacapnews.com

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