Lake Cowichan dodges bullet on medical pot

Unlike some Island communities, the Town of Lake Cowichan is not facing the problem of deciding what to do with medical marijuana grow-ops.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture Derek Sturko wrote recently to Lake Cowichan’s CAO Joe Fernandez to explain regulations affecting the production of medical pot on the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Medical marijuana growth is now explicitly identified as a farm use in the ALR, which local governments "can regulate, but not prohibit," Sturko said.

In addition, production facilities located in the ALR and licensed by Health Canada fall under the Agriculture Ministry’s Guide for Bylaw Development in Farming Areas.

The province is trying to straighten out some difficulties caused by inconsistent bylaws in some communities, the deputy minister said.

"I acknowledge the resources required to amend local government bylaws but I would appreciate your participation in this endeavour," he said.

Luckily, Lake Cowichan, with no ALR land within town boundaries, is unaffected.

"This was a big issue at a conference I attended recently," Fernandez told councillors at their May 26 meeting.

Coun. Tim McGonigle, who serves as Lake Cowichan’s representative on the Cowichan Valley Regional District board, said that there are some areas adjacent to the town that could be affected by the changes.