Kelowna council gives initial nod to marijuana-testing labs

A plan to allow analytical testing laboratories for commercially gown medical marijuana is heading to a public hearing.

If any of the 15 groups reportedly interested in building a medical marijuana production facility in Kelowna are successful, city council has started the process of making it easier for them to test their product once it is grown.

Council has agreed to send to public hearing a staff recommendation to change its zoning bylaws for the four industrial zones where medical marijuana production would be allowed to facilitate creation of analytical testing laboratories.

Subdivision approval manager Ryan Smith told council the change to allow the laboratories is currently just for the industrial zones and not for the agricultural zones, where medical marijuana production is also allowed.

That change is expected to be forwarded to council for its approval later.

Smith told council there are currently 15 groups interested in in building medical marijuana production facilities here under the federal government new commercial production rules. But so far, none have received a licence from Health Canada, which  has the final say in allowing such a production facilities in Canada.

The city, however, does control the land use for the where the facility would be built and last year agreed to allow them only in the business, heavy, general and central industrial zones and, following the provincial lead, on agricultural land.

Recently, a company planning to build a similar facility in West Kelonwa had its request for a variance to the bylaw requirement that it be located at least 150 metres from the nearest residence rejected, leaving that project in limbo.

The analytical labs would be used to test the product grown at the commercial facilities.

Smith said there could be more than one laboratory built depending on the number of production facilities here but he did not expect every facility would have its own laboratory.

Currently there is believed to be just one federally-approved commercial medical marijuana growing facility in the Okanagan. A small operation is located in the Vernon area.


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