Pot smells to be penalized

A bylaw that will penalize medical pot growers for foul odours was given preliminary approval by Langley Township council.

The new rules were put forward by Bill Storie, the Township’s head of bylaw enforcement.

“We have a number of complaints,” Storie said of pot-smell issues. “That’s what we hear about, over and over again.”

For the past several years, thousands of small marijuana farms and grow operations have been established across Canada under federal rules for medical marijuana production.

By April last year, they were expected to be largely dismantled. The federal government had planned to move to a system of larger, commercial marijuana farms rather than the many small local operations that supplied only a handful of patients each.

However, the federal Court of Appeal delayed that plan, as the court upheld the right of patients prescribed medical marijuana to keep growing their own supply of the drug at home.

Health Canada had estimated there were as many as 600 such medical grow ops in Langley alone, Storie said.

With no likelihood the small grows will go away soon, Storie said the bylaw is about managing them.

“If the smell wasn’t there, most people wouldn’t know they were there,” he said.

If adopted, the new bylaw will allow neighbours to complain about smells, and Township bylaw officers will come by to check it out and see if it’s bad enough to be ticketed.

There are already rules against bad odours generated by home-based businesses in place.

The rules will essentially mandate filtration systems to reduce or eliminate any bad smells.

Failure to comply could result in tickets of up to $500 per day.

The bylaw won’t cover the entire Township, however. It will likely not apply in agricultural areas, where residents are expected to put up with odours from manure, livestock, and other normal farming practices.

The bylaw passed its first three readings by the council on Jan. 12 and requires a final reading before coming into force.

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