Who’s mind­ing the pot?

Nor­folk po­lice board, county seek an­swers on per­sonal grow-ops

The Delhi News-Record - - FRONT PAGE - SU­SAN GAM­BLE

Health Canada is hand­ing out li­cences for peo­ple to grow mar­i­juana for per­sonal use, but the ques­tion of who will be mon­i­tor­ing that growth has stymied both the Nor­folk po­lice board and coun­cil.

“The fed­eral gov­ern­ment al­lows the li­cence but who’s fol­low­ing up on this?” asked Mayor Char­lie Luke at last week’s po­lice board meet­ing.

“Who’s check­ing to see that they’re abid­ing by the li­cence? Is it the feds? The OPP? Cer­tainly it’s not the county and I’m think­ing these per­sonal grow op­er­a­tions are go­ing to be way out of con­trol.”

While large com­mer­cial mar­i­juana green­houses have been set up in the county with­out is­sue, Nor­folk county coun­cil has been re­ceiv­ing com­plaints about the smaller grow-ops due to the size of the ‘per­sonal’ op­er­a­tions and the strong smells waft­ing out to roads and neigh­bour­ing prop­er­ties.

Nor­folk County cur­rently has staff look­ing into what the county can and can’t do un­der its man­date. A re­port comes back to coun­cil next month.

But mean­while, in­terim Nor­folk County OPP de­tach­ment com­man­der Shawn Nash said his po­lice ser­vice is wait­ing for much more in­for­ma­tion in or­der to know how to tackle cur­rent com­plaints.

“We’re await­ing ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion so we know what steps we must take to pre­pare our mem­bers. There are a lot of things to con­sider.”

Nash told the board the OPP can, at this point, at least de­ter­mine whether a grow-op is a li­censed op­er­a­tion if a com­plaint comes in.

While Mayor Luke has said there have been no is­sues with the large scale com­mer­cial mar­i­juana grow­ing op­er­a­tions, there are se­ri­ous com­plaints about small grow­ers who have a li­cence from Health Canada to pro­duce mar­i­juana for per­sonal use or for oth­ers. A per­son with a Health Canada li­cence can des­ig­nate a grower to pro­duce mar­i­juana for them.

In one case in Nor­folk, one prop­erty has en­sured it has mul­ti­ple county ad­dresses and can grow for four li­cences at each ad­dress.

Com­plaints from neigh­bours have es­pe­cially fo­cused on a strong odour that comes from the green­houses.

“I have vis­ited (one com­plained of ) site on more than one oc­ca­sion,” said Luke.

“The smell on Con­ces­sion 14 at night is hor­ren­dous. I don’t know how peo­ple stand it.”

Luke said he can smell the mar­i­juana when just driv­ing past the area with his win­dows rolled up and the odour re­mains on his clothes more than 20 min­utes after a visit. He said he was frus­trated at the dif­fer­ences be­tween a com­mer­cial op­er­a­tion and per­sonal grow-ops.

Nash told the board the OPP will ini­ti­ate in­ves­ti­ga­tions if a com­plaint is made about a per­sonal grow-op, but the po­lice would have to con­sider “a lot of fac­tors” be­fore en­ter­ing the prop­erty.

He said the po­lice have the power to check with Health Canada about how many plants are cov­ered un­der a li­cence and would have the power to lay charges if there are more plants in a small grow-op than are al­lowed.

The board dis­cussed whether any reg­u­la­tions could be con­sid­ered un­der in­sur­ance is­sues or fire code rules.

Luke noted the en­tire is­sue is com­pli­cated by the fact that when a doc­tor is­sues a pre­scrip­tion to use mar­i­juana to deal with pain, the pre­scrip­tion is by grams and Health Canada cal­cu­lates how many plants the user is al­lowed to grow in or­der to har­vest that many grams. “Not every­one grows the same amount – it’s de­ter­mined by the physi­cian.”

Po­lice board chair Peter Hel­lyer said the board has to “get out in front” of this is­sue.

The Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Chiefs of Po­lice, OPP and the Saska­toon Po­lice Ser­vice have told the gov­ern­ment they need more time to train of­fi­cers about the new laws, more time for pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion and more of­fi­cers to work on road­side drug im­paired driv­ing tests.

POST­MEDIA NET­WORK FILE PHOTO

In­creased com­plaints from the pub­lic has led the Nor­folk County po­lice ser­vices board and coun­cil to seek an­swers about small-scale per­sonal mar­i­juana grow-ops in the county.

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