Location of Falcon Ridge Farms on Rifle Road in Glenmore. Photo: City of Kelowna

Kelowna farmer fights cannabis license bureaucracy

Marlys Wolfe takes her case to B.C. Ministry of Agriculture

A Kelowna farmer has not given up on her desire to grow medicinal cannabis on her Glenmore farm.

Marlys Wolfe said she was disappointed by council’s decision earlier this month to not support her non-farm use application be forwarded to the Agricultural Land Commission, despite having been granted a medicinal marijuana grow license from Health Canada.

RELATED: Kelowna council won’t back indoor cannabis growth on farmland

Wolfe, commenting via email last week while she and her husband are on vacation in Africa, said she has already talked to the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture deputy-minister Wes Shoemaker about her issue.

“I am asking them to ensure that the City of Kelowna cannot use their current bylaw that they are using to support their reasoning for not allowing me to produce medicinal cannabis on my own farm,” Wolfe said.

That bylaw adopted by council this year doesn’t allow indoor cannabis grow operations on agricultural land, instead directing such business applications to be directed to industrial zoned properties.

Also working against Wolfe is the Health Canada license demand that she grow medicinal cannabis indoors and the facility be equipped with a concrete floor, which places it under the category of a non-farm use, and the province adopting a resolution in July that indoor cannabis grow ops would not be permitted on ALR land.

That resolution came as an unexpected surprise to municipal governments, and at a time when Wolfe was already well into the approval process with the city after securing her cannabis grow license from Health Canada the previous fall.

“I am working toward affecting a change with the Ministry of Agriculture with their new amendment of July 13 to grandfather in those instream applicants that had their applications in for a building permit with their local government and were not given the opportunity to physically start their building because of local government refusing to process their build permit application,” Wolfe said.

“My application was in City Hall for eight months prior to this amendment awaiting a building permit which the city refused to process.”

Wolfe said she has been placed in the position of trying to mitigate conflicting rules regarding medicinal cannabis grow ops between the municipal, provincial and federal governments.

“The farmer has consequences of large fines to make him comply immediately to any rules that are created and these same entities do nothing to enforce local government to comply with the same rules,” she said.

Wolfe had wanted to build a 4,800 sq.ft. facility on a part of her property, the Falcon Ridge Farms on Rifle Road in Glenmore, used for parking and deemed not suitable for agricultural crop growth, but she now faces the prospect of growing the cannabis outdoors or in an existing building on their property equipped with an existing concrete floor used for growing plants previously.

“Albeit the building is too small to do all that we require for my (cannabis grow) license,” she added.

She said Shoemaker has agreed to meet with her and her lawyer.

“Hopefully he truly wants to help and this is not just a political gesture that ends up with no effective change,” she noted.



barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

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