September 3, 2019 - Defend Lakeport's Delegation to Cramahe Council

Femma Norton and Gritt Koehl appeared before Council continuing the efforts to encourage Cramahe to enact a responsible by-law to control cannabis cultivation and/or production in the Township of Cramahe.  Here is a link to the presentation:

Defend Lakeport Delegation

Numerous residents, from both Cramahe and Alnwick/Haldimand townships, were in attendance to express their concerns over grow-ops operating illegally and having a tremendous negative impact on their quality of life, health & well-being.  Residents are demanding that local governments take a firm stand and do something about it.  Illegal is illegal, and Councils and Law Enforcement need to act accordingly.

Excuses by elected officials abound, and the OPP have their own too, but it is becoming increasingly urgent that the authorities steadfastly work together to combat the growing epidemic of illegal grow-ops.

One of the excuses frequently used is that of ‘privacy’ issues.  The Cannabis Act specifically provides for law enforcement AND municipalities to be able to access information on Medical Certificates through Health Canada, whether it is for the purpose of confirming compliance, or to determine if an operation is legal. That information does not disclose the reason for a Medical Certificate, however the address where growing is permitted and the number of plants allowed, is accessible by the authorities.

There are two basic reasons for authorities’ reluctance to act – MONEY and SAFETY.  Regardless, citizens should not be held hostage in their own communities by unscrupulous criminals. Tough times call for tough measures.  The Federal Government needs to step up as well with funding to assist local authorities to clean up the mess they created in the first place!

July 10, 2019 - Grow-ops Present Problems for Brighton and Cramahe Residents

A recent article and opinion piece by reporter John Campbell (Brighton Independent) highlights the problems being faced by residents in Brighton and Cramahe.  It highlights the need for Municipalities to take affirmative action. Here are the articles 

John Campbell Article on Grow-Op Impact on Residents

John Campbell Opinion Piece

Here is an article posted by Gritt Koehl on Facebook:

CRAMAHE - WILL COUNCIL TAKE ON ILLEGAL GROW-OPS?

I support (John) Campbell's position on citizens wrongfully suffering, all because law enforcement (municipal & police) is not doing its job. The feds screwed up, true, but that's no excuse in my opinion.  It is ludicrous to condone/turn a blind eye to illegal grow ops, just because the legal supply isn't up to snuff yet. The federal government should have prepared better, eh?  I truly hope Mayor Martin receives Council support to go after the illegal grow ops. These grow ops not only have guard dogs and surly operators, they also do not hesitate to show off weapons!

An individual commented on Campbell's article as follows:

By Janice Jul 9 2019 12:06PM 
“It's well-documented that a lot of people are having the same kind of problems throughout the country, with the smell.” And there you have it. Get used to it and be happy it's not rotting garbage! Put some florals around your pool; I'm sure the chlorine is pungent.

By Janice Jul 9 2019 11:59AM
It's the first phase of getting used to the plants. Seriously, just as Grant noted, manure can be overwhelming but we just deal with it. I feel the negative stigma of marijuana is more the problem. People need to be educated. Many find the odour pleasant and consider the benefits of this medicinal plant! Put the booze on hold...

I responded with the following comment:

It is unfortunate when individuals, who are not bothered by stench, feel they have the right to tell everybody else how they should deal with foul odours. Citizens have every right to protect their right to health & well-being in their own homes. The provincial Municipal Act clearly states that Residential Areas are considered "Sensitive Areas 24/7" with respect to location of industry and agriculture. Citizens are entitled to contest what they feel does not belong in their living space. Furthermore, townships/municipalities have every right to legislate whether to ALLOW or NOT ALLOW cannabis production in their jurisdictions. However, let's not confuse the real issue in the article above. Townships/municipalities are attempting to deal with "Illegal Grow Ops" and rightfully so. It is about time they stepped up to the plate, as local governments have known for years that cannabis legalization was coming. The reason there is a problem now is because local governments did not implement by-laws, and cannabis growers have taken advantage of that. Nobody is disputing that cannabis has been legalized, but let’s get a grip on WHERE & HOW it should be allowed. Brighton passed a by-law this year clearly stipulating that Cannabis Production Facilities are only permitted in fully-serviced industrial zones, and also prohibiting them in commercial greenhouses. If it indeed has been determined that the Boes Road Greenhouses are not licenced by Health Canada, then there should be no impediment to shutting the operation down. If it's not licenced by H.C. it is illegal and law enforcement (OPP in this case) should be on top of it. Also, the operation is violating Brighton's Cannabis By-law, therefore the By-law Enforcement Officer should be working with the OPP to follow through on enforcement. Any law is only as good as the enforcement

April 22, 2019 - Municipal Authorities Slow To Respond to Legalization of Cannabis

Back in 1999, Canada began the journey toward cannabis legalization.  A number of Court rulings prompted the formulation of regulations that initially allowed access to medical marijuana and then eventually to legalization of recreational cannabis use.  The milestones in the legalization of cannabis are summarized here Events in the History of Cannabis  This document includes links to the Cannabis Act and the Cannabis Regulations.

Unfortunately many Municipalities failed to adequately address this issue and the impact that it would have on their communities.  They lacked understanding of the legislation and thus failed to the implement appropriate changes to their comprehensive zoning bylaws. The result was adverse impact on residents and an attitude of learned helplessness among Council members.

In recent years citizens began seeing greenhouses or Quonset huts sprouting up across their Townships and Municipalities.  These grow-ops appeared in an uncontrolled fashion in response to the demand for medical marijuana.  It is particularly bothersome when these grow-ops appear next door to homes. An example is given here Greenhouses Causing A Stink

Another problem is the proliferation of “Pot Houses” where individuals with medical cannabis licenses are “legally” growing hundreds of plants in a private residence.  Not only does this cause irrevocable damage to the homes, it also adversely impacts neighbours.  Since these Pot Houses are federally licensed by Health Canada, local councils incorrectly claim that “their hands are tied”.

Last but not least is the location of cannabis production facilities.  If Councils don’t have an adequate understanding of these facilities, Townships and Municipalities will be faced with these facilities popping up in inappropriate locations.  An example of such a poor choice is the Sharpshooter proposal for a production facility in the Hamlet of Lakeport. Proposed Cannabis Production Facility In Lakeport

The reality is that Townships and Municipalities do in fact have the power and the authority to control how these things are handled in their jurisdiction.  Sadly they have failed to anticipate these adverse impacts and have failed to act in preparing appropriate legislation.  The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has produced a Municipal Guide to Cannabis Legislation that lays out options for the management of Cannabis in their jurisdictions.  You can read the document here Municipal Guide to Cannabis Legalization

January 22, 2019 - Brighton and Alnwick/Haldimand Vote To Allow Cannabis Retail Outlets

At a Council meeting held on January 17, 2019 Alnwick/Haldimand voted unanimously to approve retail cannabis stores in the Township.  The Municipality of Brighton did likewise on January 21, 2019 but there was more voiced opposition.  Read John Campbell's article about the Brighton decision here John Campbell - Brighton Cannabis Retail Story

January 8, 2019 - Cramahe Council Votes to Allow Cannabis Retail Outlets in the Township

Cramahe Council has voted to allow private recreational cannabis retail stores in the municipality.  Council made its decision after receiving a report from compliance co-ordinator Holly Grant recommending the municipality opt in.  Further details are available in this article by John Campbell Cramahe Accepts Cannabis Retail Outlets

Background

Recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada on October 17, 2018 by the Federal Government. In Ontario, the Provincial Government has put rules in place to keep cannabis out of the hands of children and youth, keep roads safe and combat the illegal market. As a result Ontario now has laws in place about how, where and who can buy and possess cannabis in the province. The government is also moving forward with a regulated private retail model for cannabis that would launch by April 1, 2019.

Backgrounder on the Legalization of Cannabis

Currently Municipalities are facing the question of whether to "Op-In" or Opt-Out with respect to allowing retail cannabis outlets in their jurisdictions. Details about the regulatory body for retail outlets and the decisions facing Municipalities can be found here

Options for Private Retails Outlets

The following is a summary sheet provided by Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) on regulatory framework for setting up a Retail Cannabis Outlet

Cannabis Retail Framework

A number of documents have been published to help residents understand the issue of cannabis and help them communicate key aspects to their children.  This document was produced by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and describes what Parents and Guardians should know about the topic.

CAMH Information on Cannabis

This information was provided by Health Canada and and is designed to help parents talk to teenagers about cannabis.  It includes a section on the slang words for cannabis.

Health Canada Information for Talking With Teenagers