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Where to grow medical marijuana

After a rigorous debate, the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen board decided Thursday it will ask the provincial Agricultural Land Commission to remove medical marijuana as an allowable use on Agricultural Land Reserve, (ALR), land.

Directors want to ensure the regional district has input on any local applications to license a medical marijuana operation.

"My definite emphasis is we are after the ability to be a part of the decision making process," said Area C director Allan Patton, who brought the motion to the table. 

Patton said the main reason he put it in front of the board is because the ALC decided to make medical marijuana growing an allowable farm use.

"As soon as they do that they take it out of our jurisdiction,  allowing it on all ALR lands whether we like it or not," he said. "Marijuana is still illegal and these are more than simple farming operations, so we want to be able to consider public concerns on locations."

That placement generated much of the long discussion, Thursday. Other directors brought up concerns ranging from the smells generated by the grow operations, to the fact fencing and surveillance cameras are ugly, taking away from the natural beauty of the Okanagan Valley.

Medical marijuana has been an issue for the board since an administration report was delivered last November that indicated the new federal Medical Marijuana Access Regulation, scheduled to take effect April 1, would not require Health Canada to notify a local government of licenses issued within the local government's jurisdiction.

Directors were concerned the district would have no knowledge of a medical marijuana operation and staff would be unable to inspect the operation to ensure it was in compliance with building, fire and other regulations.

The board of directors also approved a motion to send notice of its decision to the Southern Interior Local Government Association.

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