New Brunswick residents might be happy it's harder to grow cannabis indoors, but growers are mad at 'nonsensical' rules

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For the people in New Brunswick, cannabis is better out than in.

The location of cannabis retail stores and production facilities has been a bone of contention among communities since legalization, especially the distinct smell of pot that’s hard to miss during springtime when the growing season is in full swing.

To reduce conflicts, the province restricted indoor production to industrial zones in a directive issued last year.

“The purpose is to ensure all cannabis production facilities are located away from residential uses, daycares, schools, places of worship, public parks, recreation area, etc. to reduce conflicts with neighbouring land uses,” the directive issued in May 2019 by Jeff Carr, Minister of Department of Environment and Local Government in New Brunswick, points out.

‘I can get a tractor trailer of bull manure, but cannabis is an odour issue’

While residents might be happy, the change is impacting cannabis growers who were previously told by the province they could cultivate cannabis on their agricultural land indoors or out. Companies wanting to grow indoors on agricultural land will now have to apply to have their land rezoned to industrial.

The change is impacting those who were previously told by the province that they could grow cannabis on their agricultural land. Philippe Lopez/AFP via Getty Images

Rod Wilson, of Moncton-based cannabis nursery Hidden Harvest, got his zoning license in April last year from Southeast Regional Planning Commission that confirmed his land was approved for cannabis cultivation. With that in hand, Wilson went ahead with structural changes to his property to add a cannabis nursery. But it was only recently, Wilson says, that he was informed by the local government that his zoning license was null and void as per the May 2019 directive.

“I’m not saying you should allow cannabis cultivation on everything that is zoned agricultural, because there could be other infrastructure around that could be sensitive to a cannabis establishment, like a daycare, for example. I’m fine with that,” Wilson tells StratCann. “But my land was already approved for this. I’m not even growing cannabis for flower, just plants to sell to other growers. I can get a tractor trailer of bull manure and put it on my land, but they think that cannabis is an odour issue. It’s just nonsensical.”

Southeast Regional Planning Commission says the changes to the policy are due to community concerns and that in Wilson’s case, he doesn’t have a permit for building a cannabis nursery. But growers like Gina Brown believe the directive does little to help those from the cannabis community.

“Why would I want an agricultural farm zoned as industrial? The tax implications alone, it’s about eight times more to have it zoned industrial instead of agriculture,” Brown, who along with her husband applied for indoor micro cultivation license in April last year, tells StratCann.

“If it made sense, if there was a legitimate concern about smell, or safety, I would want it addressed. But this just doesn’t make sense. People can still grow outdoors in these areas, so why do they want to essentially ban indoor facilities?”

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