Agriculture Minister Lana Popham speaks at Union of B.C. Municipalities forum, Sept. 28, 2017. (B.C. government)

‘Exploding’ marijuana industry threatens B.C. farmland

Lana Popham said legalization not foreseen when pot allowed on ALR

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.

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson quizzed Popham on the subject at a natural resources forum at the Union of B.C. Municipalities this week

Jackson said she has fought as councillor and mayor for nearly 40 years to preserve Delta’s prime farmland. Delta has 8,500 ha of Fraser River delta land in cultivation, some of the most productive in a province where only five per cent of the total area is available for agriculture.

“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,” Jackson said. “I really don’t want to have to depend on the United States for our food.”

Popham confirmed that several local officials also raised the issue in closed-door meetings, and that growing marijuana is 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 Jackson and other local government representatives to write formal letters to her ministry as B.C. negotiates terms of legalization with Ottawa. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has declared that recreational marijuana will be legal 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, a 45-hectare hemp pilot project was approved for the 100 Mile House area by then-agriculture minister Pat Bell. The pilot was increased the following year, following efforts in Manitoba and Saskatchewan to grow hemp for biodiesel and industrial and textile fibre.

Smaller hemp plantings were done at Smithers, on Vancouver Island and at West Moberly near Fort St. John.

Just Posted

Nearly $500,000 available for internships with northern B.C. First Nations governments

Funds announced through partnership with Northern Development and Government of Canada

Terrace husband and wife honoured for saving each other’s lives

BC Ambulance presented each a Vital Link Award for separate incidents of CPR

$15 million spent on cancelled transmition line

BC Hydro had already spent approximately $15 million on planning a new… Continue reading

College buys a yurt to boost student success

Round tent-like structure part of college instructional shift

New funding available for industry innovation

Northern Development Initiative Trust opened new funds, focused on areas impacted by the pine beetle

Solitary-confinement veto a chance to address mental health: advocate

B.C. Supreme Court made the landmark ruling Wednesday

Winter storm coming to B.C. this weekend

The bets are on as to how much snow the province will actually get in the coming days

B.C. civil rights group files complaint about RCMP arrest of man who later died

Dale Culver, a 35-year-old Indigenous man was arrested in Prince George last July

Lawyer says former B.C. government aide ‘barely guilty’ in ethnic vote scandal

Brian Bonney pleaded guilty to a breach of trust charge

Quite a few tears as homemade quilts distributed to residents of Ashcroft Reserve, Boston Flats affected by last summer’s fire

Quilters in B.C. and Alberta worked through the summer and fall to create more than 100 quilts.

Island Health: No need for alarm in wake of Victoria needle-prick incidents

Three incidents in a week prompts meeting between health authority, city service providers

B.C. coast loggers celebrate history, hope for improvement

Truck Loggers Association awaits B.C. NDP government’s new direction

Global Affairs aware of report of two Canadians kidnapped in Nigeria

The foreigners were heading south from Kafanchan to Abuja when they were ambushed around Kagarko

Whistler role in potential Calgary Olympic bid would be welcome: IOC

Calgary is mulling whether to vie for the 2026 Games, and could look to facilities in B.C.

Most Read