Medical marijuana grow-ops will not be busted, say mayors

B.C.'s nearly 14,000 licenced medical marijuana grow-ops will be illegal on April 1, but muncipal politicians and police say there are no plans to shut them down.

Municipal politicians say they have no resources to shut down soon-to-be-illegal home producers

Medical marijuana grow operations in homes will be illegal as of April 1. But municipal politicians in B.C. say there doesn't seem to be a plan in place to shut them down. (CBC)

Municipal politicians and police in B.C. say it's doubtful home marijuana grow-ops will be shut down when new federal rules come into play.

As of January 8, 13,734 people in British Columbia had licences to grow their own medical marijuana.

But beginning April 1, such production will be illegal and the only sanctioned way to obtain prescription pot will be through large, licensed commercial producers.

Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman and Mission Mayor Ted Adlem say there doesn't seem to be a plan to make sure the old system that allowed the legal establishment of thousand of small grow-ops is shut down.

Abbotsford police Const. Ian MacDonald says police will continue to respond to public safety concerns, but confirms they're not planning a big crackdown on personal medical grow-ops, which will be illegal on April 1. (Catherine Rolfsen)

"I'm not really interested in going after a little guy that's growing for his own personal use," said Adlem.

"That makes no sense, it is absolutely ludicrous. And I don't think any municipal police department is going to go and try and search for somebody who is growing for their own personal use."

Abbotsford police Const. Ian MacDonald says police will respond to concerns about those grow operations as they arise, but he confirmed that there are no plans for a big crackdown. 

"I don't believe that just because the calendar flips, that all of a sudden you're going to muster all your resources that were previously investigating robberies and sexual assaults, and being in the schools as school liaisons and your traffic officers and we're going to form up and then start taking lists of homes and knocking on the doors," MacDonald said.

Vancouver to adopt a 'Don't ask, don't tell' approach

Vision Vancouver City Councillor Kerry Jang says the city will take a "Don't ask, don't tell" approach to patients who've been told by the federal government to stop growing in their homes.

"You've received your letter and the choice is entirely up to you, and we'll support whatever choice you make," said Jang. 

Some patients who grow their own pot will comply with the new rules, according to marijuana activist Jodie Emery.
Marijuana activist Jodie Emery, the wife of Marc Emery, says some growers will destroy their gardens by April 1, but others will continue growing to protest the new federal medical marijuana regulations. (Catherine Rolfsen)

"A lot of patients are ordinary people who wouldn't even tell their friends that they use marijuana, so those people are going to be more fearful," said Emery.

"However, the activists, a lot of them are going to say no, I will keep keep growing, and you take me to court, and let's fight this."

In a written statement, Health Canada says they expect participants to follow the new rules, and the changes are an attempt to address public safety concerns about allowing grow-ops in people's homes.

"The department is committed to working with law enforcement, municipalities and other partners to ensure a smooth transition to the new system of licensed producers," said the statement from Health Canada.

The RCMP say the old system was abused, and in many cases patients were growing more than they should, selling their extra pot, and even getting involved with organized crime.

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