The Regional District of Central Kootenay has confirmed that medical marijuana can be grown in agricultural areas.

Medical pot grows OK on agricultural land, RDCK says

Growing medical marijuana is fine, the Regional District of Central Kootenay says, so long as it’s on agricultural land.

Growing medical marijuana is fine, the Regional District of Central Kootenay says, so long as it’s on agricultural land.

The board passed a resolution Thursday confirming medical pot operations are allowed in areas zoned agricultural or that fall within the agricultural land reserve.

But while chair John Kettle called it “a harmless, generic motion,” it still resulted in some discussion about whether the board should make any decisions before new federal regulations are fully enacted.

Those rules are expected to restrict legal marijuana grow-ops to industrial and agricultural areas and eliminate small-scale producers in favour of commercial-size operations with greater security.

Nelson Mayor John Dooley noted some Lower Mainland municipalities are refusing to address the subject before the changes take effect.

“This is way too soon to be dealing with this issue,” he said.

However, other directors felt it was worth tackling now.

“We need to be prepared,” said rural Salmo director Hans Cunningham. “Questions are coming in and we should have basic answers even before the regulations are finalized.”

East Shore director Gary Jackman agreed: “This isn’t a waste of time. It will inform the feds on what works for rural areas.”

Development services manager Sangita Sudan explained medical marijuana grow-ops are already permitted in agricultural zones and within the agricultural land reserve.

“We’re not enabling any new permitted uses,” she said. “If we’re going to enable it in industrial zones, we need to amend the bylaw. At this point we haven’t done so.”

After the meeting, Kettle reiterated that he considered the motion “very benign.”

“It’s a generalized resolution that covers us until the feds make up their mind how they’re going to do this,” he said.

Kettle added that he’s surprised how many people are seeking licenses under the new rules and is skeptical it will result in an economic boom.

“Everybody seems to think this is going to be a moneymaker. But you better have a lot of money to even think about this. If you’re trying to raise less than 1,000 plants, you’re going to go broke.”

Last month MP David Wilks spoke to the board about the new regulations, which are being phased in between now and next April. The new and old systems will operate simultaneously until March 31, 2014, but as of October 1, applications will no longer be accepted under the old rules.

A North Shore couple hoping to be among the first to receive a license under the new rules was recently denied a variance application. They were told to apply for rezoning instead and have since done so.

A Nakusp man has also proposed a medical marijuana facility within village limits.

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