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School trustees have pot concerns

Medical marijuana facility proposed for Port Coquitlam
Pot concerns
A medical marijuana facility proposed for Port Coquitlam has school trustees concerned.

School District 43 trustees want to know what the local cities and the provincial government are doing to set rules for marijuana sales and production.

Tuesday, the board of education agreed to send a letter expressing its concerns to local cities and the provincial government and to meet with city councillors to find out how school children will be protected once marijuana is legalized by the federal government.

“We already know the government is quite behind in establishing regulations for cannabis,” Coquitlam Trustee Chuck Dennison said.

The issue arose in response to a letter asking for the district's concerns about safety, security, odour control and the protection of children from Lucava Farms Inc., which is proposing to build a medical marijuana production facility at the corner of Broadway and Langan streets in Port Coquitlam.

Located in an industrial area, the facility is within 2 km of four schools, according to the district.

Port Moody Trustee Lisa Park said: “I have big concerns about safety and health problems" while other trustees were concerned about odours emanating from a production facility, which Coquitlam Trustee Diane Sowden said could get embedded in children’s clothes.

And Port Coquitlam Trustee Judy Shirra said the district should send a letter stating the district’s opposition to the medical marijuana facility because “not sending it would say we don’t have an opinion, which is not true.”

Trustees’ limited role in legislation around marijuana was also noted, with Coquitlam Trustee Barb Hobson suggesting SD43 work with the cities and the province on the issue, and Port Moody Trustee Keith Watkins saying the district should stay out of the matter of a business operation, which is the responsibility of city rezoning and licensing, and provincial policy.

“The city has a responsibility to make sure children are protected,” Watkins said.

Board chair Kerri Palmer Isaak, the trustee for Anmore and Belcarra, said that the district needn’t “remake the wheel” because other school districts will be dealing with the same issue. She recommended the board meet with city councils and support the BC School Trustees Association on policy regarding the impact of legal marijuana on schools.

“It would be helpful for the board to find out where our municipalities are at,” she said.