Marijuana farm odour and security concern municipal leaders

Marijuana farm odour and security on B.C.'s Agricultural Land Reserve are issues of concern for municipal leaders gathered in Whistler for the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities conference.

"The No. 1 issue is going to be odour," said Vanderhoof Coun. Brian Frenkel.

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"I'm going to suggest the odour doesn't come and go," added Chilliwack poultry farmer and city councillor Chris Kloot. "It's 24/7."

Control of odour can fall under federal, provincial and local controls, government officials said.

The federal Cannabis Act outlines cultivation and processing practices, B.C. Ministry of Agriculture senior policy analyst Jackie Cushing said.

Cannabis can be grown in open fields or in buildings constructed specifically for growing crops prior to July 13.

"Any building that has been used for animals or livestock does not qualify," said Agricultural Land Commission CEO Kim Grout. "It's only buildings that have been used for crops."

However, said Willow Minaker, director of the Ministry of Agriculture's Strengthening Farming initiative, Ottawa has yet to release odour compliance and enforcement guidelines.

However, she added, federal regulations say filtration systems must be in place to restrict odours.

Pitt Meadows Coun. John Becker said he hopes the odour regulations will be enforced, adding that the city has taken legal advice on odour control.

He said Health Canada regulations on odour issues would trump any right to farm.

For a cannabis producer to obtain a licence, they must prove they will have zero odour, he said.

"It's the greenhouse conversions," Becker said. "We've been told it's impossible for greenhouses to be retrofitted for no odour."

Minaker said the only successful remedy is a fully enclosed heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. "It's difficult. Closed systems can be successful."

The growing of cannabis in open fields has raised the issue of theft.

Officials downplayed those concerns.

"With legalization, cannabis is going to be readily available," Cushing said. People will be able to grow it themselves at home. What is the risk of large-scale crime compared to a completely legal product?"

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