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Poof! No more medicinal pot growers after April 1

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Under new federal regulations, medicinal marijuana growing may look somewhat like this after April 1. This is a scene from a greenhouse in remote Colorado, where a worker is cultivating a strain of medical marijuana known as Charlotte's Web, in which the psychoactive THC has largely been bred out, and the other cannabinoid compounds thought to be medically useful accentuated. (The Associated Press)
More than 1,000 Kelowna adults with federal licences to grow pot in their own homes are supposed to destroy all the plants as of April 1.
But Health Canada has not yet granted any local licences to commercial operators whose pot supply is supposed to replace the homegrown marijuana.
So city councillors expressed skepticism Monday that people will comply with the looming change in federal drug laws and destroy the pot plants they now have in their private residences.
"It just doesn't make sense to me that people are going to give up on their current operation if new (pot growing)
facilities are not in place," Coun. Robert Hobson said.
Another open question is what enforcement action - if any - will be taken immediately after April 1 to ensure people with licenses to grow pot at home actually do destroy the plants as they're supposed to.
The RCMP is "working on" an enforcement plan, city clerk Stephen Fleming told council. But the details of that plan are not yet publicly known.
"I guess we'll see how this evolves," said Coun. Colin Basran.
Information on the number of Kelowna residents now legally entitled to grow pot at home was provided during discussion on how the city will license and regulate commercial marijuana operations after April 1. (See related story on page A3).
Health Canada records show 1,186 Kelowna residents, a number equivalent to about one per cent of the city's population, have federal licences allowing them to smoke pot for medicinal reasons.
A total of 841 people have licences allowing them to grow enough pot at home for their own use. Another 181 have a different kind of license that allows them to grow enough marijuana for themselves and up to four other people who prefer not to produce their own pot.
Health Canada issues the licences, but it does not give municipal authorities or police forces any information on the holder's identity or their address.
The Conservative government says owners of home-based pot growing operations often cultivate more plants than they allowed to, and sell the excess supply for a profit.
The licensed grow-ops may also attract criminal attention, with residences being the subject of home invasions.
For these and other reasons, the government is moving to a system of pot production where growing facilities are much less numerous, and are located in larger, secure buildings likely to be located away from residential areas.
Critics of the change say it will make it harder and more expensive for people who now use marijuana for medicinal purposes to get the supply they need.
Although the changeover is just over a month away, Health Canada has currently only approved eight commercial pot-growing facilities in the entire country. Two of those are in B.C., one on Vancouver Island and on in Maple Ridge.

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