Skunk Weed: Minimum Distance Separation for Cannabis-Growing Operations

March 6, 2020 | Marie Versteeg

Skunk Weed: Minimum Distance Separation for Cannabis-Growing Operations

Since the legalization of cannabis in 2019, the national conversation has been dominated by stories of the new sector’s rocky start. Business analysts, industry producers and retail owners have all identified causes for the sector’s failure to thrive, from hype-driven business models to supply problems to black market competition.

Any new sector is bound to experience growing pains, and cannabis in Canada is likely to make for popular case studies in business schools for years to come. But on the ground in Ontario, many rural residents have serious concerns about how this new crop is reshaping our landscape.

Cannabis-growing operations are affecting the quality of life for those living nearby. Neighbours have been negatively impacted by the light, sound and smell pollution resulting from this industry. That’s why the CFFO has asked Ontario’s agriculture minister, Ernie Hardeman, to establish minimum distance separation policies for cannabis-growing operations.

One year in, Ontarians living near cannabis greenhouses, including CFFO members, are voicing concerns about the negative effects on their well-being, particularly during harvesting, when the cannabis odour is pervasive.

It’s evident that farmers and rural residents living near cannabis facilities want resolution.

In areas such as the Niagara region, for example, communities are banding together to demand workable solutions from government. But current federal and provincial regulation gaps have put undue pressure on rural municipalities to respond to residential complaints.

CFFO suggests that provincially-established minimum distance separation policies could go a long way toward resolving public concerns.

Regular farming practices in more traditional commodities are already governed by minimum distance separation rules. Cannabis facilities present an altogether different level of disruption, so it’s reasonable to establish specialized minimum distance separation policies for the sector.

Understandably, government has been focused on business and safety regulations, but the wellbeing of rural communities also demands attention. CFFO encourages government to adopt regulations that will bring Canada’s newest agricultural commodity to order.

Marie Versteeg is Communications Manager for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKXS Chatham, and CKNX Wingham.