No plan to dismantle medical grows

Mayors want federal government to ensure operations closed by 2014.

RCMP are consulting with both municipalities to figure out how to tackle dismantling soon-to-be illegal medical grows.

RCMP are consulting with both municipalities to figure out how to tackle dismantling soon-to-be illegal medical grows.

For the past five years, the Pitt Meadows senior has been assured the medical marijuana operation across the street from his home will soon disappear.

The daily whiff of pot that floats across the fields, the constant stream of traffic and unsavoury characters in muscle shirts will be gone by spring, so he’s been told after repeated complaints to RCMP and city bylaw officials.

“I honestly don’t think it’s going to happen,” said the man, who asked to remain anonymous, as he was threatened by the people who operate the large medical growop on a street off Harris Road.

“They’ll just carry on and do what they want.”

By next spring, more than 600 medical marijuana grow operations in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows will no longer be legal, but there are no plans in place to ensure each one will be stop producing marijuana.

Health Canada does not intend to enforce the closures, and won’t disclose where the operations are located, citing privacy concerns.

Ridge Meadows RCMP and municipal staff will be tasked with tracking down the growops and ensuring they are dismantled.

“Since Health Canada will no longer sell and distribute the marijuana for medical purposes after April 1, 2014, any activities undertaken by licensed individuals who disregard licence requirements may be subject to law enforcement measures under the applicable legislation,” said Health Canada spokesperson Sara Lauer.

Health Canada’s lack of a plan annoys the mayors of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, who are concerned that many growers will continue producing in residential neighbourhoods until they are caught.

“There is no provision, no information or anything from the federal government on how they are going to wind these things up,” said Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin.

“No. 1 is we want them out of our residential housing stock.”

Come April 1, Health Canada will no longer sell and distribute marijuana for medical purposes. Personal and designated production will no longer be permitted and people who currently hold personal or designated production licenses will have to safely dispose of all dried marijuana and plants.

Under the new regime, the only legal source for medical marijuana will be large-scale licensed commercial producers.

Daykin said he’s pleased Health Canada brought in new rules, but remains frustrated that there’ll be no way to ensure to current licensees comply with them.

As of September, 572 people in Maple Ridge held personal use production licenses, while 59 were designated to grow medical marijuana for others.

In Pitt Meadows, there are 50 people with personal production licenses. The number of designated licenses was too low for Health Canada to disclose.

Both Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge have bylaws in the works to deal with commercial medical marijuana growers. Pitt Meadows is going to restrict the growops to industrial areas, while Maple Ridge wants them on agricultural land.

Two companies have already expressed interest in setting up commercial operations in Maple Ridge.

“It’s a huge concern for RCMP and the Fire Chiefs Associations of Canada,” said Pitt Meadows Mayor Deb Walters.

“How are we going to shut them down? That’s something they’ve not told us yet.”

For Walters, it’s back to square one – municipalities with already strained resources are left to clean up a federal mess.

According to statistics from Health Canada, about 21,000 people in the country hold personal or designated production licenses.

“I think there is going to a lot of outrage from municipalities across Canada, “ Walters said. “They’ve left this problem for us to deal with and we have no additional resources to deal with it.”

Ridge Meadows RCMP, meanwhile, are consulting with both municipalities to figure out how to tackle dismantling soon-to-be illegal medical grows.

Walters believes her civic counterparts across Canada will be joining forces to deal with the new changes.

“It’s just the beginning of many, many discussions that are starting to happen,” she added.

“We are going to start uniting and there’s going to have to be some sort of reaction from the federal government.”