Municipalities have to deal with the fallout of federal medicinal marijuana growing licenses and it's costing Maple Ridge police and fire resources.
Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said he keeps harping on the fact that federal legislation allowing individuals to grow marijuana for medical purposes has been left to municipalities to manage.
"[We are] trying to manage a system or program that the feds have put into place," Daykin said.
An amendment to a Maple Ridge zoning bylaw will direct medicinal marijuana growing into "an appropriate zone in a purpose built structure."
Maple Ridge council dealt with the issue at Monday's committee meeting, and it will go forward to next Tuesday's regular council meeting.
The bylaw has been vetted by the municipality's lawyers, Daykin said, adding that "we're going as far as we can go."
In a "perfect world," medicinal marijuana would be grown in an industrial or agri-industrial format, Daykin said. "It doesn't have any place... in single-family residential homes."
"Our hope is we get some guidelines... or regulations in place... to try to eliminate the conflict in residential areas," Daykin said.
When the federal government grants marijuana growing licenses to individuals, it makes the municipalities "de facto regulators" using local police and fire fighting resources, he added. "The reality is it's costing us money."
Having marijuana growing-operations in residential areas makes people worried, Daykin said, with a perception of security issues. Even if there haven't been any incidences, "it's still in the back of people's minds."
Daykin also questioned how healthy it is to have hydroponic operations in a residential home with its possible condensation and mould problems.
"I don't think it's good for you," he said.
Insp. Dave Fleugel with the Ridge Meadows RCMP pointed out that the production of marijuana without a proper license "is still an illegal offence."
"Ridge Meadows RCMP are aware that the state of the cannabis laws, both possession and production are in flux in Canada and we remain flexible for changes that Health Canada or the various levels of government make to the laws, regulations or bylaws," Fleugel said.
Fleugel added that police have to allow government and Health Canada to "work on solutions" to any changes to the current medical marijuana growing system, "and where appropriate police have offered perspectives from law enforcement and public safety."
District staff, in its report to council, recommended residential, commercial, and "population serving" areas not be considered for growing of medical marijuana.
The report states that industrial zones might be suitable, but it could be difficult to maintain air quality in multi-tenant buildings. Also given the amount of organic waste that it produces, an industrial site might not be suitable.
The amendments to the zoning bylaw also propose keeping the commercial growing of medical marijuana at least 200 metres from elementary and secondary schools.