Strict new regulations now in effect around the growing of medical marijuana still leaves cities at tremendous risk, Surrey’s fire chief says.
On Monday, the federal government announced the implementation of Health Canada’s new medical marijuana grow initiative, which will limit all new pot grow sites to commercial enterprises.
No new grow sites will be allowed in residential buildings.
However, Health Canada will not reveal to municipalities where the former residential grow operations were located. Statistics show the buildings are 24 times more likely to burn than a regular home.
There are more than 10,000 residential medical grow-ops in this province, with more than 500 in Surrey.
Those homes may have unsafe wiring, making them fire traps.
“The new regulations are a step forward because they will take the production of marijuana out of neighbourhoods,” Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis said. “However, it’s critical that future owners and occupants of former medical (marijuana grows) are made aware their homes were once used to grow marijuana.”
Old marijuana grow operations, for medical uses or otherwise, not only include potentially dangerous wiring, but also mould and dangerous chemicals used during the active grow operation.
Garis said cities need to know where they are so they can be rendered safe.
“Keeping their locations a secret after they are decommissioned will expose thousands of people – including children – to serious health and safety risks, along with significant costs to address them,” Garis said.
Mayor Dianne Watts said the problem must be taken seriously by Ottawa.
“We should all be gravely concerned about the impact on our communities and the safety of families when medical marijuana grow sites across the country are decommissioned,” Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts said.