Licensed Producers in Ontario Concerned Over Polluted Lands

(UrosPoteko/iStock)

Licensed cannabis producers in Hamilton, Ontario are at loggerheads with city officials over where their grow-ops will go.

The tussle began last month, after Liberal MPP for Hamilton Ted McMeekin and several city council members suggested restricting where medicinal cannabis growers will be able to set up greenhouses once the product is legalized.

“Any contaminants or pollutants could cause devastating crop failure, and we could not give this to our patients whatsoever.”
Ian Wilms, vice-chair of Green Organic Dutchman

Growers are critical of city council’s suggestion that they build on old industrial land instead of prime farm land, claiming the air pollution would kill their product. Representatives from Beleave and Green Organic Dutchman told the CBC that such a move would be “catastrophic.”

Ian Wilms, vice-chair of Green Organic Dutchman, told the city council’s planning committee that “any contaminants or pollutants could cause devastating crop failure, and we could not give this to our patients whatsoever.” He says as per the company’s Health Canada license, any product that is compromised must be destroyed.

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Wilms stressed that growers want to be in rural areas where air quality is better. Nevertheless, city councillor Lloyd Ferguson has suggested a limit on grow-ops in rural areas, stricter regulation, and a priority for growing food over cannabis.

Councilor Matthew Green was skeptical of the air-quality claim, noting that grow-ops are indoors and can create environments that keep out air pollution.

Councilor Matthew Green was skeptical of the air-quality claim, noting that grow-ops are indoors and can create environments that keep out air pollution.

There are currently four licensed medicinal marijuana corporations in the Hamilton area, but that number is likely to spike once cannabis is legalized in July 2018.

“If we planned properly, we could create an industry here—a green economy” on industrial land, said Councilor Green, noting that both Beleave’s and Green Organic Dutchman’s planned Hamilton expansions are that of “multinational corporations” rather than a “family farm.”

Green Organic Dutchman wants an additional 150,000 square feet to its current 7,000 square foot facility, while Beleave wants to expand its 14,000 square foot operation by an additional 80,000 square feet.

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Both companies said they would find other spaces to develop if the restrictions are imposed by the city council.

Bill Panagiotakopoulos of Beleave told Global News that the Ontario municipalities Welland, Burlington, and Caledonia have already approached them for business.

Last month, McMeekin told the Hamilton Spectator he wants industrial-sized marijuana greenhouses to stay away from land that’s fit for cultivation.

“You shouldn’t be building greenhouses on class 1 agriculture land,” said McMeekin. “You should do it on class 3 or 4 land where you can’t grow anything.”

He suggests licensed growers look to northern Ontario to build their businesses, since the region could use the jobs and economic growth.