Councillor predicts Norfolk “cannabis capital of Canada”; to be a leader on marijuana controls

By David Judd

SOME marijuana growers are causing big problems for their neighbours.
Strong odours and bright lights from round-the-clock greenhouse operations have drawn many complaints.
Some people can’t sleep in their own homes because of the smell, Mayor Charlie Luke says.
The odour is so bad in seven or eight places in Norfolk that you can smell marijuana without rolling down the windows of your vehicle, Mayor Luke told county councillors last Tuesday.
It’s a huge issue, Delhi Coun. Mike Columbus agreed.
He warned councillors, “We’re going to be the cannabis capital of Canada.”
In 2016 a federal court confirmed the right of patients with prescriptions to grow their own supplies of marijuana.
Health Canada has licensed growers without rules about where the marijuana is grown.
Licensed growers have taken over greenhouses that formerly grew tobacco or other inoffensive crops.
It’s a new form of production, planner Mat Vaughan said.
And it can be big business.
Some marijuana prescriptions require up to 1,000 plants to maintain supply.
And each grower can grow marijuana for up to four prescriptions. That’s as many as 4,000 plants.
A few growers managed to obtain up to four 911 addresses for their properties, creating the potential to grow up to 16,000 plants.
County officials caught on to the trick and rescinded the extra addresses.
Norfolk has no problem with its one large commercial marijuana producer, Maricann near Langton.
If you stand outside the Maricann facility, you can’t tell what’s grown inside, Mr. Vaughan said.
But some small-time licensed growers of medical marijuana pose risk to people’s health, way of life and enjoyment of property, Mr. Vaughan said.
The federal and provincial governments are taking no action to protect neighbours.
So Norfolk County is taking the lead in proposing some rules.
Mayor Luke said he has no problem restricting where and how marijuana is grown.
He compared marijuana to cigarettes and alcohol, which are restricted.
Licensed growers have the right to grow but not if they don’t care about the people and kids next door, the mayor said.
Councillors directed Mr. Vaughan to move forward with two new restrictions.
First, toughen Norfolk’s bylaw against obnoxious odours to make it easier to act on complaints.
And second, require all licensed marijuana sites to show they meet minimum distances from neighbours.
Details of the new rules will be introduced at a public information session in February, followed by a council vote in March.
Existing greenhouses would not escape the new rules, Mr. Vaughan said.
Mr. Vaughan said Norfolk would be the leader on marijuana control in Ontario, Canada and the United States.
But Port Rowan Coun. Noel Haydt warned council: “The problem with being a leader is you’re being a leader in lawsuits.”
It’s another example of the federal and provincial governments making decisions that cause fallout for Norfolk County, Port Dover Coun. John Wells said in an interview.
Council will do its best to protect neighbours, Coun. Wells said.
He predicted: “Somebody will challenge us. We’ll go to court and maybe we’ll find we’re infringing on somebody’s rights.
“It’s not going to be one of those stories with a happy ending.”
Starting July 1, Canadians each will be permitted to grow four marijuana plants for recreational use.

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