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Mayor says farmland off limits in Richmond for pot growers

Last Updated May 10, 2018 at 11:35 pm PDT

(iStock Photo)

Mayor says commercial grow-ops are better suited for industrial lands

The province has allowed the Agricultural Land Reserve to be used for medicinal pot growing

RICHMOND (NEWS 1130) – Companies that might be eyeing Richmond’s fertile agricultural land as an ideal site to grow recreational pot are going to be out of luck.

The city is expanding a policy that currently governs medical marijuana, which outlines that grow-facilities must be placed on industrial land, not in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Mayor Malcolm Brodie says they’re not against the product itself, but they have problems with the infrastructure erected to prevent theft.

“The growers have to have structures complete with security and a physical building around it. Given that situation, we think the operations would be best off in industrial areas.”

A white paper produced this month by Colliers International advocates farmland be used for recreational pot growing, because it believes there is already too much competition for commercial and industrial land in Metro Vancouver.

Back in 2015, the province opted to allow medicinal marijuana operations to locate on the Agricultural Land Reserve. At the time, the province forbade municipalities from adopting bylaws to ban grow ops on their farmland.

A province-wide review is underway about the future of the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Brodie insists the city has the power to ultimately decide where the grow-ops can be located.

“In terms of the agricultural land and the growing of marijuana, we are quite within our rights to regulate the production marijuana and where it’s going to be located.”

Meantime, the city continues to be opposed to any cannabis retail shops within its boundaries. Brodie says dispensaries are going to be difficult to control and regulations are going to be expensive to enforce.

He would rather stand back, and watch how other municipalities handle the roll out of marijuana legalization.

And he says his city is still lobbying for a substantial cut of the taxes that will be collected on marijuana sales. So far, the federal government says it will take 25 cents of every dollar generated in taxes, but it’s unclear how much of the remainder will go to municipalities.