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EDITORIAL: Coquitlam tackling medical pot problems
Coquitlam is trying to deal with the commercial medical marijuana industry head on while federal regulations are in a state of flux.
While most Canadians wouldn't stand in the way of marijuana use for the purpose of relieving pain and other chronic health problems, it's left to cities to deal with policing issues and other problems that might arise with these businesses.
The federal government currently permits designated third-party growers and allows people to grow their own for medical purposes, and Coquitlam is doing its best to deal with this situation with a new bylaw restricting the location of third-party growers and retailers.
But in 18 to 24 months, new federal rules will cut out individual production and set up a supply and distribution system for dried marijuana that could be as large and lucrative as the pharmaceutical industry.
If properly regulated and monitored, commercial medical marijuana producers may provide an essential service for people with permission to use marijuana for health reasons although their product could be more costly. However, until then, the current situation is leading to more work for police and could be open to abuse.
What's more, privacy laws often make it difficult for law enforcement officials to get information on growers so cities want these business operations to be as transparent as possible.
To that end, Coquitlam is looking at a new bylaw that would require all third-party growers and unregulated compassion clubs to be licensed and located in one of five M-3 Special Industrial Zones.
Because the kind of stand-alone building these operations require would be hard to find in the M-3 zones, proponents will have to look elsewhere or seek a rezoning if they wish to stay in city boundaries. A rezoning, would then require a public hearing, giving officials and residents more information and possibly more control over the enterprise.
Some might say this kind of meddling is contrary to the aims of the Canada Marijuana Medical Access Regulations, but some sort of transparency is necessary if Coquitlam, and other cities, are to have some control over the development of this controversial industry.