City to vote on recommendations to curb some medical cannabis growth in homes

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A Winnipeg city committee is set to vote on plans to crack down on homegrown, designated medical cannabis growers.

In March, city hall received a report that looked into medical cannabis production in residential areas, which found the city could set limits on at-home marijuana growth through changes to zoning and neighbourhood livability bylaws.

City councillors then put forward a motion to have the public service get more information on the changes required to amend these bylaws.

The public service has now put a recommendation forward to the city’s standing policy committee on property and development, heritage and downtown development. It proposes taking next steps to amend bylaws that prohibit the cultivation in residential neighbourhoods and properties with a residential zoning designation.

Committee Chair Cindy Gilroy said the motion targets designated medical cannabis growers and not those who grow for personal medical use.

“Those are growers that are growing on behalf of somebody else. They’re not a commercial grower, they’re not a personal user,” Gilroy explained.

“We heard from the public that in a lot of residential areas, they are getting large smells, and it’s disrupting the area and the community and residential areas where designated growers are growing cannabis. This is in big homes where no one’s really living in them, but they are being used to grow cannabis legally.”

Gilroy noted growing medical cannabis is legally regulated through Health Canada. However, she said the quantity of cannabis plants designated growers are producing in homes is creating adverse effects to neighbourhoods.

The committee is also considering creating a licensing regime that regulates the cultivation of medical cannabis on behalf of other registered users, and to regulate various building systems within properties within a residential zoning designation.

“Now they are regulated under us. We can come in and check on their facilities. If they’re not complying, the city can now provide enforcement,” Gilroy explained.

The committee is set to vote on the recommendation at an Oct. 13 meeting.

City Councillor Ross Eadie (Mynarsky) said he brought forward this issue through his own community committee about three years ago. While he’s pleased to see progress being made, he feels the proposed changes don’t go far enough. He feels more restrictions should be put in place on the number of plants both designated and personal growers can cultivate.

“The report itself is just for designated growers, and I think that’s good. That pushes them into light manufacturing, which is what it is, so that’s progress,” he said. “But there are people with these huge prescriptions and they are producing it in the house for themselves.”

Eadie said he’d also like to see more bylaw enforcement to help deal with the changes, and to prevent hazards that these homegrown operations create in neighbourhoods.

- With files from Kayla Rosen