Richmond city council agreed Monday to make a recommendation to the federal and provincial governments for no farm use for the production of marijuana in the city.
A heated discussion took place Monday afternoon at the general purposes committee meeting, when council members debated updating cannabis regulations within Richmond.
Whether growing marijuana on farmland should be considered or not was a focus of the conversation.
Coun. Alexa Loo stated that growing cannabis on farmland can be a good way to make farming profitable, as well as keeping the soil, as opposed to building mansions on it.
Other councillors, however, insisted that marijuana processing should not be considered as farm use, but industrial use only.
“Basically they think the standard (for recreational marijuana) should be what we already set in place ourselves for medical marijuana,” said Ted Townsend, the city’s spokesperson.
He explained that under the current city’s bylaws, medical marijuana is not a permitted land use, but the city would consider site specific rezoning to allow one such facility in Richmond within an industrial area.
“Now it’s going be more than just medical marijuana, potentially (we) could get applications for production facilities and growing… We are now looking at making sure our bylaw covers both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana production facilities,” said Townsend.
The city will also request that the provincial and federal governments share at least 50 cents of taxes per sale of each gram of marijuana to the municipal government, to help with the costs of enforcing regulations and dealing with cannabis-related issues.
Another question proposed by Coun. Bill McNulty was the exact assessment of resources the city needed to bring in the regulations.
“We need to know how many positions the city needs to employ, what training staff need to go through and what it costs the Richmond taxpayer,” said McNulty at the meeting.
“Even if there are regulations, who is going to do it? We are not prepared.”
As a response, staff will conduct the assessment and report back to the committee.
“We are still waiting for the federal government and provincial government to make some amendments and pass regulations around this issue. So things may change depending on what the governments decide and what they are going to do,” said Townsend.
To date, there have been three applications for a medical marijuana production or research facility.
The application for the property at 5960 No. 6 Road is currently at third reading, and the one for the property at 13751 Garden City Road is currently under staff review. Another application did not proceed.