While legalization of marijuana has communities worried about under-age sales and impaired driving, agriculture minister Lana Popham has also had an earful about the threat of food-producing land being converted to feed the recreational cannabis market.
The subject came up at a natural resources forum at the recent Union of B.C. Municipalities.
“I’m really worried that people are going to be gobbling up our best land for growing marijuana, and we really need all the land we have to grow vegetables and fruits,” Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said. “I really don’t want to have to depend on the United States for our food.”
Growing marijuana is currently a permitted use in the Agricultural Land Reserve.
“I believe that when this was made an allowable use, we could not foresee what was about to happen as far as an industry exploding before our eyes,” Popham said.
She urged local government representatives to write formal letters to her ministry as B.C. negotiates terms of legalization with Ottawa for legalisation by July 1, 2018.
While marijuana for ingesting wasn’t contemplated by the province or the Agricultural Land Commission, there have been several experiments with growing industrial hemp for biofuel, oils and fibre.
In 2006, hemp pilot project was approved for the 100 Mile House area, Smithers, Vancouver Island and Fort St. John. This following efforts in Manitoba and Saskatchewan to grow hemp for biodiesel and industrial and textile fibre.