A bunker-like medical marijuana growing facility on Vancouver Island was approved before legalization of recreational marijuana was declared across Canada last year, sparking concerns that farmland would be covered with concrete and greenhouses to meet demand. (Black Press Media)

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana crops ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

B.C.’s local government organization says it was blindsided by a provincial policy change that declared all cannabis production in the Agricultural Land Reserve as farm use.

The Union of B.C. Municipalities found out in early May that a regulation change in February means the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) is no longer dealing with applications to grow cannabis.

Farming communities around the province have pressed the B.C. government to protect farmland from large greenhouse complexes for legal marijuana taking up the province’s scarce food-growing land. ALC regulations prevent concrete pads from being put on farmland to grow marijuana, and now the change leaves local governments with the task of controlling how much farmland is covered by cannabis fields grown in soil.

READ MORE: Farmland protection petition reaches B.C. legislature

READ MORE: Saanich to smoke out pot bunkers in farmland reserve

“UBCM was not consulted on the legislative and regulator change that have changed the characterization of cannabis production in the ALR,” UBCM president Arjun Singh said in a letter to B.C. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson this week.

“As it appears that many local governments were unaware of the change to consider all cannabis production as farm use, and that consequently the ALC would no longer be considering applications for cannabis production, the amendments have had the effect of creating a three-month gap in which some forms of cannabis production may have been unregulated in terms of ALC oversight and/or local government land use regulations.

“Given the requirements for creating or amending local government bylaws, it is foreseeable that this gap could continue to exist for many more months.”

The UBCM executive is also writing to Agriculture Minister Lana Popham, asking why the change was not communicated to local governments, and the status of applications that the ALC may have received for non-farm-use cannabis production since February.

The UBCM is also still waiting for word on a revenue sharing formula with the province and local governments for legal cannabis sales. The B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch still has only one cannabis store, and private stores have slowly been opening around B.C. as federally licensed suppliers have struggled to keep up with demand.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Year-long volunteer program aims to empower Vancouver Island youths

Federally funded Youth 20/20 Can involves young people aged 15-30

UPDATED: Nanaimo pumped for Red Bull Pump Track World Championship event

Nanaimo’s Ben Leslie wins men’s division of world qualifier at Steve Smith Bike Park

V.I. Raiders earn a win against Okanagan Sun

Five interceptions help Nanaimo to a 37-13 victory Saturday at Caledonia Park

Summertime Blues Festival on at Maffeo Sutton Park

It’s Day 3 of Nanaimo’s blues festival with performances until 10 p.m. tonight

VIU staff go rock-hunting in Nanaimo for grade-school geology courses

University’s earth science department creating introductory teaching kits for schools

UPDATED: Nanaimo pumped for Red Bull Pump Track World Championship event

Nanaimo’s Ben Leslie wins men’s division of world qualifier at Steve Smith Bike Park

VIEX now in full swing

Vancouver Island Exhibition underway in Nanaimo

B.C. VIEWS: Pipelines set to roll as federal politicians posture

Projects to drive B.C., Canadian economy in years ahead

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

Vancouver Island man dead after reported hit-and-run incident

Oceanside RCMP seek public’s help gathering information

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Beefs & Bouquets, Aug. 22

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

Most Read