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Feds look to tighten medical pot rules

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The federal government is looking to tighten rules on medical marijuana so only licensed, private operators are allowed to grow it.

The proposed changes would create a new network of commercial-scale growers and phase out home-based grow operations.

“Our government is very concerned that the current Marijuana Medical Access Program is open to abuse and exploitation by criminal elements,” said Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq on Friday.

“That is why we are proposing improvements to the program that will reduce the risk of abuse and keep our children and communities safe, while significantly improving the way program participants access marihuana for medical purposes.”

Health Canada has already begun public consultations about the proposed changes that would streamline the application process for access to medical marijuana and see commercial producers licensed by Health Canada to grow and distribute dried marijuana.

Individuals would purchase their supply of dried marihuana from one of the licensed commercial producers.

The changes to phase out home-based operations couldn’t come quicker for the City of Pitt Meadows.

A lone medical marijuana growop located in a quiet residential neighbourhood continues to frustrate city officials who have been unable to get the grower to relocate because of crop’s legal status.

One of several councillors who’ve been fielding complaints about the property, Gwen O’Connell has been telling neighbours the city is doing all it can.

“Our hands are tied,” said O’Connell.

“The federal government completely takes it out of your hands. I feel so bad for that neighbourhood.”

Pitt Meadows has a bylaw that prohibits growing medical marijuana for others, but has been unable to outlaw growing it for personal use.

But the city has been keeping a close eye on the lone legal growop and often requests to inspect the property to make sure the grower is complying with his Health Canada license for 46 plants.

Bylaws officer Leslie Elchuk said it’s the only legal grow op she knows about in a residential neighbourhood in Pitt Meadows.

“As long as everything is inspected and it’s safe, there is nothing we can do.”

Comments about proposed changes to the medical marijuana program can be submitted to Health Canada until July 31.

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