EDITORIAL: Pot not the same as cukes

Article content

One of the unintended consequences of the federal government’s decision to decriminalize cannabis use and legalize its cultivation and production is the location of grow operations near homes. Those residents must put up with an odour peculiar to cannabis plants, as well as with the possibility of criminal activity.

Vegetable production rarely elicits a complaint from a non-farmer living near those fields. And for those who live close to a greenhouse, the production of tomatoes, cucumbers or bell peppers rarely raise alarm.

But cannabis is different. Pot isn’t the same as cukes. The odour generated by cannabis production doesn’t compare with other greenhouse activities. And because it continues to be sold on the black market, cannabis can attract thieves and other characters.

More than 15 months after the decriminalization of cannabis and the introduction of legal protocols for its production, there are many examples of conflicts with communities and homeowners – and they are sadly without a mechanism to find satisfaction.


Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

In East Huron, for example, a medical cannabis operation set up shop in a greenhouse formerly used to grow flowers. Neighbours were never notified, nor were municipal authorities. And yet because the grower had Health Canada approval, his activity is legal and also in compliance with local bylaws which permit commercial greenhouse activity.

Neighbours were upset with the cannabis odour.

“The smell is very strong,” admitted a Huron East municipal councillor.

In Norfolk County this month, a public meeting on the same issue attracted 400 people. Most were upset because of the proliferation of cannabis operations, some in barns and greenhouses, and most entirely legal.

“The obnoxious odour takes your breath away,” said one homeowner. “You can taste it on your lips, it burns your eyes, penetrates your home and makes you ill.”

Many were perplexed that such production would be so close to homes and families.

“Our biggest fear is safety,” said the same person, “and last August that fear was realized by an armed robbery on a Sunday afternoon, in close proximity to a multitude of small children.”

Lambton County council has joined other municipalities in calling on the Ontario government to establish minimum distances to separate marijuana farms and greenhouses from neighbouring homes.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley called it “an emerging issue” and said uniform rules of proximity must be established.

He’s right. It’s incredibly unfair – and in some cases unsafe – for families to be subjected to such activity, no matter how legal it is.

– Peter Epp

News Near Tillsonburg

This Week in Flyers