County of Simcoe councillors demand Health Canada begin to enforce Cannabis Act

Oro-Medonte Mayor says licenses are being granted to commercial cannabis producers and nobody is telling the municipality

This is not a token gesture from the County of Simcoe.

County councillors rubberstamped two recommendations at Tuesday’s council meeting, one that asks area Members of Parliament (MPs) to support their position that commercial marijuana producers be required to provide proof of notice to municipalities before a license is granted, and second, that MPs support council’s position that Health Canada places a reasonable limit on the number of cannabis plants permitted by applicants.

At a council committee of the whole meeting two weeks ago when the recommendations were being discussed, Oro-Medonte Township Mayor Harry Hughes said there were three commercial cannabis producers that got licenses and the municipality was not notified by Health Canada, and he said they later found out a fourth license was granted without the municipality knowing.

“This doesn’t match what Health Canada is saying they’re supposed to be doing,” said Hughes. “We’re in the position now of having residents endure the ramifications of and the effects of these producers in close proximity to built-up areas.”

The County expressed concern with the enforcement of the Cannabis Act in a letter sent to Health Canada in January of this year. The letter asked the federal agency to consider changing the rules regarding commercial and personal production of cannabis, citing problems in rural areas such as odours, noise and enforcement.

“The odour and noise that emits from the operations has caused a very significant land use compatibility issue for surrounding residential, agricultural, and institutional land uses,” the letter stated.

Health Canada responded to the letter in April.

“All issues and complaints brought to Health Canada‚Äôs attention are taken seriously, including any issues with licence holder activities as they relate to the Cannabis Regulations. If warranted, after further investigation, Health Canada would take appropriate action to correct any potential non-compliance with the Cannabis Regulations,” the letter indicated.

What Hughes also finds outrageous is that a Local Appeal and Planning Tribunal involving the three producers in Oro-Medonte is going to take place, but not until March 2022.

“These operations that aren’t complying are able to continue to operate even though they have not followed the procedures that Health Canada has outlined. They did not notify us,” Hughes said.

“The simple solution for us and everyone is for Health Canada to do what they are promising to do.”

He said all the problems are being dumped on municipalities and to the taxpayers.

At the same meeting, Ramara Township Mayor Basil Clarke said his municipality had problems with personal licenses being granted to grow marijuana.

“I’ve got one property where there is eight people on the deed. They each have a medical license for 99 plants each. I would like Health Canada to take a serious look that now you can buy marijuana legally, a personal grower license should not be more than four plants,” explained Clarke

Severn Township Mayor Mike Burkett said it was important to alert the local MPs to get them to change the legislation that Health Canada is abiding by. He said the County can send as many letters as it wants to Health Canada, but the director’s hands are tied.