(Photo: Unsplash)

CANNABIS: Surrey Fire Chief says allowing people to grow pot at home is ‘wrong-headed’

When cannabis is legalized in Canada on Oct. 17, people will be allowed to grow four plants at home for recreational use

Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis is not happy the federal government is making it legal for people to grow pot at home, and said he fears the city will see increase in fires, as a result.

“I think it’s wrong headed,” said Garis, noting B.C. fire chiefs don’t support home-growing of cannabis. “It’s for the contamination and fire reasons. We don’t think it’s an appropriate place. We have no idea where they are, they have no regulatory regime. It’s a debacle.”

When cannabis is decriminalized in Canada on Oct. 17, individuals will be allowed to legally grow up to four plants at home.

Garis has long raised concern over home-growing, and B.C. fire chiefs have gone so far as to push for an outright ban, citing safety concerns, mainly.

The concern is not unwarranted.

Two men died in a house fire in Surrey’s Tynehead neighbourhood this past April, at a property where a medical marijuana licence was in effect.

Fire investigators believe the fire was accidental, and related to the electrical equipment used in the grow-op.

See also: Two dead in Surrey house fire where ‘medical marijuana licence in effect,’ officials say

See also: No pot shops opening in Surrey anytime soon

Medical marijuana users are already allowed to grow their own pot at home – something Garis is opposed to.

The fire chief was involved in the court battle that aimed to ban medical marijuana patients from growing their own product.

In 2016, federal court Judge Michael Phelan shot down the ban, finding a report that Garis produced in support of a ban was “biased.”

The case relied on the 705-page report, which outlined the concerns related to fire and contamination in home grow operations, studying data from licensed and illicit grow-ops in Surrey.

“I was disappointed with that but I understand this has a ton of momentum,” said Garis of the ruling, “and it’s appalling in my mind that there’s so few people who can influence an important policy in Canada, but in fact that’s what they’ve done. Fair enough. It doesn’t change my evidence, my experience, and the B.C. and Canadian fire chiefs will agree – it’s not the proper place to grow and cultivate marijuana.”

See also: Surrey mayoral candidates talk cannabis legalization

Garis said, currently, the Surrey fire department doesn’t know where medical marijuana growing is taking place.

“They’re not required to disclose,” he explained. “FOIs from previous studies in 2015-16 show there were about 32,000 licenses issues in Canada…. and 1,200 of those were in Surrey. Through our inspection processes we know there’s about 300 them, and we’ve inspected them. So we only know where about a quarter of them are.”

Garis estimated there are about 50,000 plants in the city.

“Where is this all going?” he wondered. “There’s no regular regime for home growing. Whether it’s four, or 40.”

Garis said it will be “unenforceable.”

He worried “we’re going to go right back to 2003-2004, when we were going to two or three fires a week associated with growing marijuana.”

See also: ‘Lock it up’: B.C. doctor warns parents planning to cook up cannabis edibles

See also: 5 tips for talking to your kids about cannabis

See also: B.C. to have only one store selling cannabis on first day of legalization



amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Amy on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. families financially affected by pandemic eligible for grocery gift cards

Program open to struggling families in Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley communities

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man will walk from Hope to Vancouver Island for Indigenous healing, reconciliation

James Taylor departs Sept. 20, returns to Saanich in five days for sacred fire

Surrey school district proposing 13 new schools in the next decade

Staff suggest new designs for future builds to maximize school space

Two Surrey schools report COVID-19 exposures, including second contact for Panorama Ridge

Fraser Health has created a new webpage listing COVID-19 cases in schools

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

VIDEO: Shots fired outside Langley gas station that was scene of 2018 homicide

No reports of injuries in Saturday evening incident

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Most Read