Hands tied over Lakeshore Road marijuana operation

A controversial medicinal marijuana facility on Lakeshore Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake is again drawing complaints from residents and town councillors expressed frustration Monday about the limited options they have for trying to control the operation.

 Several letters have been sent to Health Canada by the town over the past couple of years about the grow-op which was licensed before new federal legislation took effect in April 2014. Last fall, 11 people were arrested at the 1651 Lakeshore Rd. greenhouses and over 800 marijuana plants growing outside were seized by police.

The raid was a result of complaints from neighbours about a strong odour from the plants and information from the town regarding building code and property standards violations.

“The Niagara Regional Police are doing everything they can,” the director of community and development services John Henricks told councillors. “We (the town) are doing everything we can.”

He suggested that the town could send another letter to Heath Canada, contact MP Rob Nicholson and the Niagara Regional Police to raise their concerns. However, he said, “there is very little we can do locally”, and noted the federal government is proposing the legalization of marijuana.

Henricks said the town is currently involved in litigation with the greenhouse operators regarding fencing and the site plan, but was not able to comment publicly on the status of the case.

“As far as we know they are operating by the rules,” said Lord Mayor Pat Darte, who agreed with Henricks that the town has very little jurisdiction over the operation.

However, Darte said he would contact Health Canada again and ask representatives to go the site to “take a look”. He also said the town’s fire chief has recently been out to the premises.

The Lakeshore Road operation has four separate licences for legally growing the medicinal marijuana plants inside the greenhouses. Considered residential licences, they were issued before the legislation changed and Health Canada moved to issue commercial licences instead.

The value of the plants seized by police last September that were being grown outdoors was estimated at $1.6 million. 

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