By Korie Marshall

The Regional District Board adopted a land use bylaw that will limit the location of certified medical marijuana facilities to either industrial zones or large parcel (minimum 640 acres) agricultural areas at their April 17 meeting.

Under the new federal Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulation (MMPR), marijuana must be grown in certified and regulated commercial facilities. In January the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George Board voted to increase the minimum parcel size for any new commercial facility from 16 hectares to 259 (640 acres). A public hearing was held in Prince George, and the bylaw passed third reading in March, although Valemount mayor Andru McCracken told the Goat last month the decision was “nowhere near consensus.”

McCracken said he thought 16 hectares (40 acres) was big enough, and this new agricultural industry, endorsed by the federal government, would have been an opportunity for small businesses, but he understood there had been some bad experiences in Prince George.

New facilities proposed for other parcels could still be approved, but would need to go through a rezoning process involving public input. The Board also struck a committee in March to look at what might be changed in the new bylaw, including potentially treating different areas of the district separately.

Under the old Medical Marihuana Access Regulation, patients could grow their own medical marijuana or have a designated person grow it for them. These grow-ops were unregulated, and the licenses were set to expire by April 1. However a federal court judge granted an injunction in late March that will allow users and growers under the old system to continue while a challenge to the constitutionality of the new MMPR goes through court.