Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Canada Medical Marijuana News

Scrutiny for medical marijuana sites

The City of Surrey wants to know which of its residents have licences to
grow marijuana for medicinal purposes.

By The Vancouver Sun
September 14, 2009

The City of Surrey wants to know which of its residents have licences to
grow marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Surrey Coun. Marvin Hunt pitched a resolution last week to the
Federation of Canadian Municipalities asking the federal government to
inform cities when medicinal pot licences are approved.

This would allow municipalities to pinpoint where the pot is being grown
and ensure homes are properly modified, he said.

"We will make sure they get the proper permits and inspections so the
place won't be a fire hazard for them or anyone else," Hunt added.

The resolution was made on behalf of B.C. fire chiefs, who argue medical
marijuana growers often alter wiring and make structural changes to
their homes before starting their growing operations.

Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis said this not only creates an increased fire
risk but poses health problems in the home, such as mould and improper
chemical storage.

Also, when people leave a home or move out, the city doesn't necessarily
know the house was used to grow pot.

"The city doesn't know where they are," Garis said, adding: "It's no
different than a criminal grow-op because of the clandestine nature.
Even though there are indications they should seek approval, there are
no requirements. "

Garis would like the federal government to allow local monitoring of
licensed growing operations to ensure medical marijuana growers submit
to zoning, fire and safety regulations and their homes are safe.

Otherwise, he said, when firefighters run across these homes, they have
to regulate them after the fact. Some of the worst ones have to be shut
down while upgrades are made.

Garis said his colleagues in Coquitlam and Langley have run across
similar problems.

"We're talking about community safety," he said.

Some 2,017 individuals in Canada had licences to cultivate and process
medical marijuana as of July last year. Surrey has identified about nine
homes where medicinal pot is being grown.

The issue has already been raised by the Canadian Fire Chiefs, B.C. Fire
Chiefs, and to the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

In a letter to the UBCM, Garis noted research conducted by the Centre
for Criminal Justice Research at the University of the Fraser Valley
found homes containing a marijuana growing operation have a one in 22
probability of having a house fire. In homes without growing operations,
the probability is one in 525.

Without proper regulations, he said, medical marijuana growing
operations represent the same threat to public safety as illegal

Meanwhile, Surrey has seen an 80.9-per-cent decline in the number of
illegal marijuana growing operations between 2004 and 2008 as a result
of its electrical fire safety inspection team. Some homes busted by the
city have had upwards of 200 pot plants.

Homes used to grow pot are identified by reports of unusually high
electricity consumption- - typically at five times the average for a
typical single-family residence.

But Garis said growers are becoming more savvy at hiding their
operations by stealing power to avoid detection.

ksinoski@vancouvers un.com

http://www.canada. com/vancouversun /news/westcoastn ews/story. html?id=a2e3\
c064-e62e-449c- ae9a-a2e3d615deb d&k=32509

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