Winnipeg to look at tackling large medicinal cannabis growing operations

Winnipeg City Hall is tackling a growing problem in residential neighbourhoods, big medical cannabis productions.

The city’s property and development committee voted on a plan to restrict the larger scale operations to manufacturing zones.

Right now, Health Canada allows up to four medicinal growing registrations per address, meaning people can be designated to grow for others. This can result in hundreds of plants per home.

Neighbours to some of these locations have been complaining about the smell and brought their concerns to the committee Wednesday.

“Over time we began to notice pungent odour that just hung over our backyard,” said homeowner Laurie Monk.

“The smell would be coming in through the fresh air intake that way, I couldn’t use my over the stove vent,” said homeowner Carmen Nedohin.

This is also leaving many to wonder if the larger scale medical grow ops are linked to crime, not health.

“People are growing large numbers of plants for the purposes of distribution,” said Coun. Markus Chambers.

As a result of concerns from residents and in turn councillors, a city report is recommending designated medical growers be banned from residential areas, restricting them to manufacturing zones. They would also be subject to a business licensing regime and exhaust requirements.

“That would allow the city to conduct inspections for health and safety concerns and that would allow us to respond to residents’ complaints,” said Coun. Devi Sharma.

This would not impact individuals growing medical cannabis in their homes for themselves.

But medicinal cannabis advocate Steven Stairs worries kicking designated growers to manufacturing zones could block access to the drug for patients who can’t grow their own.

“You’re forcing an added expense to a limited income demographic of people,” said Stairs.

With the committee voting in favour of the recommendations, it is directing city staff to come forward with the zoning and licensing changes for consideration.

This still requires approval from City Council.