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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Members of the Tl’etinqox First Nations are awaiting word of when they will receive their second dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
‘We need the second round’: Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse questions vaccine roll-out

It’s been 42 days since Tl’etinqox First Nation members received their first dose of Moderna

A drive-thru restaurant and beer and wine store is being proposed by Broadway Landco Management Ltd. for the former Chemo RV site at 1704 Broadway Ave. South. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Drive-thru restaurant, beer and wine store proposed for Williams Lake

Owners of property at 1704 Broadway Ave. South have applied for a zoning amendment

Avalanche Canada has issued a special avalanche warning for the Cariboo Mountains effective through the weekend. (Wes Gregg photo)
The city of Williams Lake has received provincial funding for a proposed boardwalk connecting the RC Cotton Trail to the River Valley Recreational Trail. (City of Williams Lake rough visualization of the proposal)
$550,000 provincial funding announced for Williams Lake boardwalk trail

The boardwalk will connect the new RC Cotton Trail to the river valley

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

Most Read