Maple Ridge wants more info on medical marijuana grow ops

Production not prohibited within the Agricultural Land Reserve

Maple Ridge is going to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner  in Victoria to see if it can tell the public more about plans for 13 possible medical pot productions in the city.

Anyone who applies to Health Canada for a medical marijuana grow operation must inform the city, fire and police of their plans.

However, privacy laws prevent the city from disclosing any of that information, such as location, to the public.

Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read wants the B.C. office to tell the city exactly what amount of information can be released to tell people about possible marijuana grow ops.

Recently, Whonnock residents became concerned about a 40,000-sq.-foot greenhouse, which could produce medical marijuana, planned for 272nd Street.

“Residents in Whonnock are understandably upset that no notification was provided to them regarding a medical marijuana facility being erected in their neighbourhood,” Read said in a release Thursday.

With cities unable to release details, such as location, the result is “a facility popping up on a parcel of ALR land in a residential neighbourhood without prior notice to our residents. That’s not good enough.

“Medical marijuana facilities are a permitted use on Agricultural Land Reserve designated lands and municipalities have received instruction from the province that they are not to be prohibited.”

Read, though, appreciated the numbered company, associated with Tantalus Labs out of Vancouver, holding a public information meeting March 23, at 6 p.m., at Whonnock Lake Centre, to discuss the Whonnock greenhouse.

In December 2012, Federal Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq announced the new program called Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulation at a media conference held at Maple Ridge’s Fire Hall No. 1.

The regulation encouraged large-scale commercial medical marijuana facilities while phasing out personal medical grow permits.

However, the federal legislation is being challenged in court.

With a court challenge of the ban on personal medical grow operations underway and the government slow in awarding medical grow licences, and some parts of the U.S. outright legalizing recreational pot, the industry is in transition.

“It’s not a question of the merits of the industry,” Read said.

“Right now, we have absolutely no control over where these things are in the ALR.”

She added that Whonnock residents are worried about plans for using underground water for the greenhouse and how that will affect the local aquifer.