British Columbia

West Kelowna proposes new rules to crack down on marijuana businesses

West Kelowna city council is looking at imposing new rules on the production and sale of medical marijuana.

Production facilities may soon be limited to industrial zones & required to have security

West Kelowna council has 'received a large volume of complaints' about local marijuana dispensaries and grow operations. (CBC)

The City of West Kelowna is considering two bylaw amendments aimed at cracking down on commercial marijuana growing operations and dispensaries in the Okanagan city.

City council passed first reading of one bylaw amendment Tuesday afternoon that tightens restrictions around marijuana production facilities.

"I'm glad we're going to have this community discussion," said Mayor Doug Findlater.

The commercial grow operations may soon be limited to industrial zones and buildings with air filtration systems and increased security.

Commercial marijuana facilities would also not be allowed in multi-tenant buildings and would not be permitted close to schools, daycares or churches.

Council was told that staff members are spending considerable time responding to inquiries from people in the medical marijuana industry. The bylaw amendment is meant to provide some clarity.

Main Street dispensaries also a concern

The issue of medical marijuana in Canada was described Tuesday as having "a lot of moving parts."

Council will look at another amendment next week "closing the loophole" around local dispensaries that are operating as non-profit compassion clubs.

"We've received a large volume of complaints, particularly about dispensaries and occasionally about residential grow operations," said Findlater.

"I think we have to come to grips with the current problem, and it may change, but right now ... it's illegal. There's no tolerance and we're tolerating it."

This is one of a number of medical marijuana dispensaries currently operating along Main Street in West Kelowna. (Starbuds Canada)

Currently a handful of medical marijuana dispensaries operate along the city's Main Street.

The local RCMP recently issued a statement condemning facilities that are operating outside the law.

"There is no such thing as having a tolerance for marijuana dispensaries. Simply put, these dispensaries are illegal," said West Kelowna RCMP Staff Sgt. Lesli Roseberry.

Councillor Rosalind Neis recused herself from Tuesday's discussion, citing a possible conflict of interest as she holds stock in two publicly-traded marijuana companies.

With files from Brady Strachan and Daybreak South.