Prime agricultural land no place for cannabis, Oro-Medonte coalition says

A community group is vowing to support Oro-Medonte in upholding measures that restrict where cannabis can be grown and processed.

A zoning bylaw amendment passed on April 29 restricts cannabis production and processing facilities to rural industrial and economic development zones.

“That’s where that type of activity should take place, not on prime agricultural land,” said Mitch Eisen of the Oro-Medonte Community Coalition.

Under the amended bylaw, cannabis growing and processing facilities must be set back a minimum of 150 metres from a so-called sensitive land use, including residential buildings, places of worship, lands containing/zoned for schools and daycares, public parks and community centres.

The coalition says the measures protect agricultural land and settlement areas from what they argue are potentially invasive effects of the cannabis industry.

Among their concerns are the potential for strong odours, excessive noise, artificial light pollution and increased truck traffic.

In anticipation of possible challenges to the amended bylaw — which is subject to an appeal period — the coalition has hired legal counsel and is offering the township support.

“Whatever assistance we can give the township in terms of aiding them to uphold the bylaw … we’re hopeful to try to help to do that,” Eisen said.

Council received numerous letters from residents supporting the bylaw amendment prior to its passage.

The township also received correspondence from Weston Consulting, the planning consultant for Carmel Pharms Corp., operator of a cannabis production/processing facility at 837 Line 7 S.

Associate Robert Walters expressed concern about the amendment’s “negative impact on our client’s existing operations and potential future expansion.”

In a separate letter, a law firm representing the owner of 918 Line 3 S., said its client “strongly opposed” an amendment that would prohibit growing hemp outdoors.

Hemp is a strain of the cannabis plant that contains no more than 0.3 per cent THC — the active ingredient that produces a high.

The hemp plant’s flowers can be used as a source of cannabidiol, an extract also known as CBD, and its fibres for textiles, wrote William Friedman of Friedman Law Professional Corp.

Minimum setbacks from sensitive land “should be sufficient to deal with any concerns regarding odour of neighbouring land owners, assuming odour is an issue,” he said.

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