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Where will medical marijuana be grown?

Medical marijuana regulations in Kelowna are about to change as part of Health Canada's new Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations set to kick in April 1, 2014.

Under the new regulations medical marijuana production will no longer take place in homes and municipal zoning laws will need to be respected.

Current medical marijuana growing facilities have to re-apply to Health Canada to set up operations only in areas designated by the City.

The City of Kelowna began the zoning process Monday, approving a staff recommendation to amend zoning to permit the production of medical marijuana in industrial and heavy industrial zones (I2 and I3) only.

While some communities have designated operations to take place in agricultural areas, Corporate and Protective Services Director, Rob Mayne, says it is Kelowna's view industrial areas were a better fit for medical marijuana operations.

"They would need a large, secure building, in which a portion of it would be for growing and another significant portion for the processing and distribution of the medical marijuana," says Mayne.

He anticipates the zoning bylaw to come before open council in early January with a public hearing to follow soon after if the bylaw is approved by council.

Mayne says with the old regulations ceasing at the end of March, those growers approved under the new regulation would want to get businesses started early in the year so they could have product for April.

To date, Health Canada has approved three medical marijuana operations under the new legislation, one based out of Clearview Township, ON, one in Toronto and one in Saskatoon.

Mayne says as many as 10 prospective operators have served notice with the City of Kelowna that they are interested in licences.

"Four of them are zoned A1 which we would not even consider, two of them are zoned I2 which we would look at and one is in commercial zone. The other ones did not provide exact locations," says Mayne.

He says Health Canada has not informed the city they are reviewing those particular applications.

According to Mayne, a large medical marijuana operation currently operating out of a warehouse in Kelowna would have to relocate if it is approved because it is in an area zoned for commercial, not industrial use.

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