Medical Marijuana Grow-Ops in Our Communities
WHAT'S GOING ON
Conservatives have been lobbying the federal government to close a loophole in medical marijuana regulations for over a year. While medical marijuana can be grown safely for personal medical needs, Health Canada permits industrial-scale grow-ops in residential areas. Some of these grow-ops have thousands of plants and are beginning to dominate neighbourhoods across Canada, and they have none of the oversight or protocols to which commercial producers are subject.
Multi-million dollar busts of licensed medical marijuana grow-ops connected to organized crime have occurred in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. Police in Ontario believe profits from these grow-ops were being funneled to US-based criminal organizations. I am concerned this is happening in our neighbourhoods.
Additionally, residents living near these unregulated grow-ops are forced to deal with a wide range of concerning issues: safety concerns from living next door to thousands of dollars of marijuana plants and growing equipment, an unbearable and lingering stench, and property devaluation.
In some neighbourhoods, multiple homes on a given street have been bought and repurposed for medical marijuana grow-ops licensed by Health Canada for “personal use.” However, Health Canada has not set a limit on the amount of medical marijuana that can be prescribed to an individual, and four individual licenses to grow are permitted at a single address. The result has been unregulated, industrial-scale grow-ops moving into our neighbourhoods at an increasing rate.
My office has received hundreds of phone calls and emails from residents who are increasingly distraught that nothing is being done to regulate this issue. Medical marijuana can be grown safely, but there must be a fair, common sense approach to ensure all neighbours can live peacefully and safely. Individuals licensed to grow a few dozen plants are not the problem; large-scale medical marijuana grow-ops with links to organized crime are the issue.
I have personally raised this with the Mayor of Winnipeg, and the provincial Ministers of Health and Justice; asked about it in Question Period to the federal government; signed a joint letter with my Conservative colleagues to the federal Minister of Health; participated as a panelist in a town-hall in the Garden City area; toured impacted neighbourhoods; and, spoken to local news outlets to raise awareness. On April 8, 2021, I hosted a public Facebook Live event for the community to ensure their concerns are heard.
I will continue to advocate on behalf of concerned residents and lobby the federal Minister of Health to make the changes necessary to find a common-sense solution that respects the rights of those with medical needs and protects neighbourhoods.
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