Medical pot growers face $5,000 licence fee

Langley Township is planning to charge a hefty business licence fee to anyone planning to set up a medical marijuana business in the near future.

Township staff are proposing a $5,000 business licence  for medical marijuana production facilities.

The bylaw would apply to new producers who want to operate under federal rules that, while still hung up in court challenges, would change the system of medical pot from one of many small grow ops to a more free-market agricultural system.

A typical business licence in the Township costs between $140 and $400, depending on square footage, but some types of businesses pay more.

Pubs require a $2,500 business licence, and arcades $3,000, noted Beverley Weller, the licence and inspection services coordinator.

The higher cost is based on anticipated higher costs of inspection and monitoring for medical marijuana businesses, said Township Mayor Jack Froese.

It is the highest cost for the business license that he is aware of, Froese said.

“I don’t think the industry will have a problem paying that,” Froese said.

So far, he said he’s only heard from one potential grower who was positive about the bylaw. 

The legal grow operations won’t be retail outlets, even for those with prescriptions for medical marijuana.

They will be using secured shipping, or sending their product to pharmacies, doctors, or hospitals.

The Township council will consider the first and second readings of the new business bylaw at the Jan. 26 evening council meeting.

There will be an opportunity for public input at a later meeting.

Langley City doesn’t have business licenses for medical marijuana, because it has prohibited the commercial operations in all its zones.

Langley Township can’t ban medical marijuana growers from operating on agricultural land. The Township tried to limit growers to industrial land only, but was overruled by the Agricultural Land Commission and the provincial government, which ruled that medical marijuana was a permitted use for the ALR.

The Township also recently put forward a new bylaw aimed at curbing smells from the small, usually home-based grow operations running under the old medical marijuana system.

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