Letter: Farmland should be protected for food

Supports Pitt Meadows ban on pot

Editor, The News:

Re: “Pitt wants pot punted from farmland,” The News, July 20.

Kudos to Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker. We don’t need more production of marijuana in the area. I’m from Maple Ridge so I’ll echo his comments for my city. We already have a homelessness and addictions crisis and growing more marijuana crops, and the resultant numerous marijuana dispensaries that will appear in our city, would only harm our city and make the crisis worse.

Having an RPN and psychology degree and having worked in the field of mental health and addictions for over two decades, I know that marijuana is not a harmless drug. The scientific evidence shows that long-term use can cause irreparable brain, heart, and lung damage. Just because the federal government has legalized marijuana doesn’t mean that we need dispensaries on every corner, any more than we need liquor stores everywhere.

Just look at the proliferation of pot shops in Vancouver. One only has to drive for a few minutes before passing one. The only winners of growing marijuana crops would be the wealthy owners who get filthy rich from it. The losers would be all of Maple Ridge.

The Agricultural Land Reserve must be preserved and protected for growing traditional farm crops only, such as tomatoes, peppers, and the like.

If crops were ever switched from these crops to marijuana, they would never revert back to traditional farming crops with the huge amount of profits that are made by the owners and the current political climate we live in. It’s a shame that more public officials don’t step forward and declare what is in the right interests for our cities. Too many politicians appear to be afraid to speak out against marijuana production as it isn’t currently politically correct to do so.

If tracts of land from the ALR were used for other purposes, including but not limited to marijuana production, the future would look bleak.

With global warming and climate change taking place, and resulting drought along the West Coast, the costs of produce have jumped significantly due to low supply.

The same drought is impacting Washington and Oregon state.

With lower supply and increased demand, soon these states will be barely able to supply their own residents with produce, and shipments will stop.

Farmers in B.C. will experience the same problem and, as we are starting to see, shelves could be completely empty of some types of produce.

This situation will only worsen over time as the climate change accelerates.

So it is imperative that the ALR is protected, and I would suggest that tax incentives be offered to owners within the ALR lands who are actively farming traditional crops.

If the lands are extracted out, bit by bit, then our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will pay dire consequences.

Christopher O’Brian

Maple Ridge

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