One medical cannabis grower in Bradford West Gwillimbury said a new town bylaw could seriously delay her micro cultivation licensing and force her out of town.
Jackie Lunn, just one of a handful of people who have approached the town about allowing cannabis micro cultivation, spoke at BWG council Tuesday evening with a goal to educate its members on the federal standards and regulations of the operations.
“(Not) every resident in Bradford is going to go ahead and do it. It’s not something that’s going to be willy-nilly in our town,” Lunn said.
Council voted Tuesday to accept a Committee of the Whole recommendation to create an interim control bylaw to freeze permissions for cannabis micro cultivation for one year or until town staff can gather all the information they need to re-examine the issue and bring a report back to the committee for consideration. If approved, council could also renew the bylaw for more time.
At a committee meeting earlier this month, several councillors expressed concern about the location of these facilities, as they can be on any agricultural properties less than four hectares, even near residential areas.
According to a town staff report, cannabis micro cultivation operations must submit security plans to Health Canada, and they are limited to growing a canopy the size of 200 square metres.
Lunn, who said she has been growing medical marijuana for four years, told council she believes there should be less focus on lot size and more importance on lot location.
For her current operation, she said she is near a cemetery and has no neighbours closer than 200 metres away.
Her plants are now growing in open air at the back of her property, she added, but she wants to build a greenhouse to move them indoors and expand the operation to make it more secure, be kinder to her neighbours, and create financial and employment opportunities for she and her husband.
For security, Lunn said she has a chain-link fence with barbed wire, lights, cameras and alarms. If she got her licence, for which she is now undergoing an 18-month process, she would add privacy fences around her property and the greenhouse.
“I’m not trying to hide anything from anyone. This is a legal crop. It’s a great new market,” she said, adding micro growers could be able to help larger businesses like MedReleaf with supply.
A freeze of permissions for micro cultivators “is putting my process farther and farther behind. It’s going to be very hard for me to achieve this licence.”
If BWG takes too long to decide on whether to allow for cannabis micro cultivation, Lunn said she “will probably have to move to another town to proceed with it.”
Several councillors told Lunn the town must do its due diligence before approving micro cultivation, and the interim control bylaw is expected to come before council for approval in June, with a chance for more discussion then.
“We’re in favour of helping you and others who want to bring this product to market … in a confined way,” said Deputy Mayor James Leduc. “Every politician in the area has a hesitancy on this. It caught us off guard. It’s more prudent for us to do the right planning.”