By Mike Renzella
The Haldimand Press
HALDIMAND—Haldimand Norfolk MP Diane Finley is looking for more support of her upcoming petition to the Minister of Health over the lack of monitoring and restrictions of marijuana growth falling under the ‘Designated Grower’ banner.
Designated Grower permits allow for the growth and cultivation of up to 36 grams of cannabis a day, a loophole that some in the community feel is leading to a rise of crime, among other issues affecting the local residents.
“Norfolk County residents need to be aware that Health Canada advised at their participation in a Police Services Board presentation October 7, 20 that Norfolk has 525 cannabis registrations. Each designated grower can have 4 registrations. We know of over 80 sites in Norfolk, but these numbers mean we could have over 130 sites,” said Debbie France, a local activist.
The Haldimand Press attempted to retrieve statistics related to the number of grower registrations in Haldimand County, but the request was denied by Health Canada, citing concerns for business confidentiality and privacy.
The OPP has been advocating for Health Canada to address the issue as well.
“Communities spread across the province face threats from violence associated with illegal crime activities, from human trafficking, to impacts on the environment, including the quality of life when surrounded by large-scale illegal cannabis facilities,” stated a recent news release about a joint task force assembled from various OPP detachments across southern Ontario dedicated to the issue.
Finley’s petition addresses a number of local concerns.
“Many Type 2/Designated Growing operations have reached the scale of commercial operations, yet are not required to implement the types of controls in their facilities that safeguard the products they grow or minimize odour, or environmental impact of neighbouring areas; and indications are that a growing number of designated growing facilities are linked to organized crime and are suppling the contraband market,” said a release issued by Finley’s office.
The petition calls for the Minister of Health to take immediate action to address those issues and close any loopholes while also providing law enforcement the tools they need to investigate and take swift action against any operation acting unlawfully.
“Residents of Haldimand Norfolk must remember that a $700 million to $1 billion illegal drug trade remains wide open and active across Ontario,” said France. “The establishment of these sites create a real and present danger to the residents of Haldimand Norfolk.”
France urged residents of the community to report any suspicious actions they might witness to both their local MP and MPP offices, as well as their respective Council and bylaw departments.
“Health Canada receives cannabis-related reports from consumers, health professionals, industry, and the general public as it relates to its area of responsibility. For concerns and complaints that might represent a possible violation of the federal cannabis laws or regulations, individuals may contact Health Canada’s Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Branch,” said France.
Anyone interested in supporting Finley’s petition may sign up online at petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-2920. The petition will be open until Janury 20.