The lack of monitoring of residential cannabis grow operations is putting people at risk, fire chief and head of municipalities in the western Canadian province of British Columbia warned.
They lambasted lack of regulation and oversight after a fire at a licensed medical grow-op in the city of Surrey left two people dead last week.
Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz, who is a vice-president of the Union of B.C. Municipalities, told the Vancouver Sun that the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations was “flawed” since its inception in 2016.
Gaetz said the program was behind the “proliferation of grow operations in residential neighborhoods.”
“The operations are frequently out of compliance with our bylaws and provincial health and safety and building regulations.”
Gaetz pinned his high hopes on the expected marijuana legalization this summer in bringing a much better regulatory framework.
“I do think that we have an opportunity to get it right this time as marijuana is legalized.”
Federal Inspectors “Like Unicorns”
The current regulations also permit federal inspectors to check these grow-ops. But Gaetz dreadingly said these inspectors are rarely seen; they are almost considered “mythical creatures, like unicorns.”
Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis, however, highlighted another issue.
Garis said local governments aren’t told where licensed grow operations are located due to privacy concerns, leaving many unchecked.
“We have no idea where they are, or what’s going on, or when it’s going on,” Garis said.
“We’ve kind of lost faith in the licensing system, to be honest with you. It’s been quite challenging, I think, for everybody.”
The fire chief said the upcoming legalization will not fill this gap.
After legalization, Canadians will be allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants per household for personal use from licensed seeds or seedlings.
Health Canada expects registrants “to comply with all relevant provincial/territorial and municipal laws, including local bylaws about zoning, electrical safety, fire safety, together with all related inspection and remediation requirements.”