Norfolk County may soon have well-defined rules governing the production of recreational and medicinal marijuana.
Marijuana production facilities have proliferated unchecked in Norfolk over the past two years. These are medicinal in nature and loosely governed by Health Canada regulations.
These facilities are not subject to provincial planning policies. As such, increased production has occurred in a policy vacuum that has given rise to land-use conflicts related to smell, noise and light pollution.
With Ottawa about to legalize the use of marijuana for recreational purposes, the demand for legal growth capacity will increase.
A county task force has been exploring a response to this since the fall. Its findings will be tabled at Tuesday’s meeting of Norfolk council.
The Norfolk County Cannabis Task Force has brought together a menu of options.
This includes requiring a zoning amendment for greenhouse operations that wish to diversify into marijuana. With the requirement of a site-specific zoning amendment, the county could impose noise, smell and light mitigation measures as conditions of approval.
The county also has the choice of specifying the smell of marijuana under cultivation as a noxious odour.
As such, greenhouse operations could be sanctioned depending on how they respond to complaints from adjoining property owners.
In his report, planner Mat Vaughan says Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act (EPA) has concrete things to say about activities that “harm or (cause) material discomfort to any person,” cause “an adverse effect on the health of any person,” or “render any property or plant or animal life unfit for human use.”
“Right to farm” legislation in Ontario protects farmers from complaints regarding normal farming practices. However, Vaughan notes that the EPA provides “no exemption from adverse effect as it relates to agriculture and crop production.”
Ottawa lost control of marijuana production in 2016 when a court ruled that requiring medicinal marijuana users to obtain their medicine from licensed production facilities violated access rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.