No changes are expected at the municipal level following changes to federal regulations on homegrown medical marijuana.
As of Aug. 24, the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) will replace the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR).
The MMPR regulations brought in by the Conservative government in 2013 limited legal marijuana production and purchase to authorized commercial producers. Those producers will remain active even under the new system.
The new access system is similar to the pre-MMPR system where individuals needing marijuana for medical purposes can apply to either produce, or designate a grower to produce for them, a limited quantity of marijuana.
The possession limit is either a 30-day supply or 150 grams of dried marijuana—whichever is less.
Individuals wanting to produce marijuana for medical purposes must register with Health Canada and cannot grow adjacent to schools, playgrounds, daycares or other public places mainly frequented by children.
City of Port Alberni planner Scott Smith said that while this round of new regulations on home grown medical marijuana was too new to know for sure, last time similar regulations were in place they didn’t involve municipalities.
“At that time the federal government didn’t involve local government,” said Smith, adding that council had yet to discuss the issue.
“Part of the concern last time was that the police, fire department and local governments weren’t consulted.”
Mayor Mike Ruttan noted that it changed nothing for the city as the regulations were on a federal level.
“We aren’t changing anything,” said Ruttan.
Storefront dispensaries remain illegal under federal law.
Port Alberni Fire Department Deputy Chief Wes Patterson said that while he couldn’t comment on the precise risks of homegrown marijuana production, improperly rewiring a home can cause dangerous problems.
“Anytime that we see improper electrical installation for whatever reason it’s a cause for concern,” said Patterson.
“With using a residential property for more than what it’s intended for… there’s always concerns about that. If things are done properly with ventilation, electrical installation, it can be done safely but if it’s done in a jury-rigged fashion there’s always that potential.”
According to PAFD records, there have been 17 electrical fires in Port Alberni since 2010.
“All various extension cord and equipment failures,” said Patterson.
“There was one fire in a grow-op since 2010 that was electrical in nature.”