Mayors warn feds of medical pot mayhem ahead

Health Canada faces call at UBCM to aid with transition

Lower Mainland mayors are predicting disaster when Ottawa cancels medical marijuana growing licences in thousands of B.C. homes next spring in favour of new commercial producers.

They warned federal officials at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention Tuesday that the transition – without any teeth to enforce closure and cleanup of the soon-to-be-illegal home grows – will push them further into the grip of organized crime and leave cities with a legacy of contaminated houses.

“You created this nightmare,” Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman told Health Canada representatives, noting Ottawa refused to identify licensees so cities could inspect them and ensure they’re safe.

He said the federal government therefore has a moral obligation to help ensure medical pot grow houses are made safe so subsequent buyers don’t unsuspectingly move their families and children into homes with serious mould problems or electrical or fire code violations.

“Fix the problem you helped create,” Banman demanded. “These people are going to close these homes down, they’re going to slap a little paint on and nobody is going to be the wiser. That is borderline criminal.”

Health Canada would take steps to remediate if it were tied to properties contaminated with asbestos, he suggested, so it should do the same when under B.C. law past use of a property as a grow-op must be disclosed for health reasons.

Other mayors, including Chilliwack’s Sharon Gaetz and Kelowna’s Walter Gray, predicted medical growers won’t stop voluntarily.

“Dave’s not here, man,” quipped Burnaby Coun. Nick Volkow in a rendition of Cheech and Chong.

Asked by the mayor of Mission what will be done to ensure growers shut down, Health Canada’s Todd Cain said licensees will be notified they must cease production, decommission and remediate.

“Beyond that, we’re really relying on them to follow the law,” he said, drawing laughter.

“They’re going to take that letter and roll it in product and they’re going to smoke it – that’s what’s going to happen,” predicted Mission Coun. Dave Hensman.

He demanded to know how Ottawa justified licensing 700 legal medical pot grows in Mission – a community of 30,000 people – and said he opposes his municipality spending a dime to clean up the problem.

“I’m not going to shut them down and you’re not going to shut them down. So dude, it’s not going to work.”

Cain said privacy restrictions still prevent Ottawa from disclosing permitted grows.

He said Health Canada could begin certifying legal producers within weeks and some of the expected 50 to 75 producers to be chosen nation-wide are expected to be in operation well before the official April 1 launch date of the new system.

More than 100 licence applications have been received and about 40 are from B.C., most of them located in the Lower Mainland.

Hensman said the Lower Mainland doesn’t need that many commercial growers, suggesting more be located elsewhere in Canada.

Medical pot price to vary

New medical marijuana grown in large-scale commercial operations will be sold at various price points, federal officials say.

“What we’re hearing from producers is there will be quite a range,” Health Canada spokesman Todd Cain said.

He said producers expect to offer between four and 30 different strains at different prices, some of them as low as about $3.50 or $4 a gram, adding that’s significantly lower than medical pot users previously feared.

“Supply and demand, once the market is established, will drive the pricing,” Cain said.

Pot distribution will be done only by mail or courier, not through any pharmacies or retail outlets.

In response to questions about pot being lost in the mail, Cain noted the existing federally run medical marijuana plant in Saskatchewan already ships product through a combination of courier and mail with a “good success rate.”

Shipments will be in the form of dried marijuana only.

It will be sent in individual airtight packets of 30 grams each, limited to a maximum of 150 grams per shipment.

Cain predicted the new system will close loopholes that allowed abuse while ensuring qualified medical users can legally get marijuana.

Users who are prescribed marijuana by a doctor will be permitted to possess 150 grams or a 30-day supply, whichever is lower.

There are 35,000 existing permitted medical pot users in Canada.

Just Posted

Comox residents question redevelopment at emotionally-charged meeting

About 40 people filled the d’Esterre House in response to a community consultation meeting.

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Valley fossil makes it to the top of the provincial list

Courtenay’s elasmosaur will be added to the official Provincial Symbols of British Columbia

New exhibition at Comox art gallery opens Feb. 19

Rainforests to prairie grasslands, a visual road trip at Pearl Ellis Gallery

Comox Valley Chamber looks back on recent achievements

Chamber of Commerce Week Feb. 18-22

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

St. George’s hosts open discussion on Jordan Peterson

Based on the overwhelming response to the January discussion night on Jordan… Continue reading

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

B.C. BUDGET: Carbon tax boosts low-income credits, electric vehicle subsidies

Homeowners can get up to $14,000 for heating, insulation upgrades

B.C. man survives heart attack thanks to Facebook

A Princeton man suffered a heart attack while at an isolated property with no cell service

Most Read