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City cracks down on pot homes

A bathroom has been converted into a power room in this Surrey home where medical marijuana was being grown. - Surrey Fire Deparment photo
A bathroom has been converted into a power room in this Surrey home where medical marijuana was being grown.
— image credit: Surrey Fire Deparment photo

Medical pot grow-ops in residential homes have to be shut down as of next week (April 1), and the City of Surrey will be following up to make sure the houses are safe.

People ignoring the city’s requests for remediation work may face thousands of dollars in inspection costs.

The clean-up initiative comes as Health Canada ends the ability for people licensed to use medicinal marijuana to grow it at home (see story, page 3). Medical pot now must now be purchased from regulated commercial producers.

In Surrey, about 1,000 homes have been used to grow pot for medicinal purposes, according to Surrey Deputy Chief Dan Barnscher.

He told the Surrey Police Committee Monday that the city knows the locations of 309 of the homes.

Some of the risks associated with decommissioned marijuana grow operations include chemical residue, mold in the walls and unsafe wiring.

Barnscher says notices will be going out to homeowners on April 1, and they will be expected to begin remediation work within 30 days.

If they don’t, Surrey will send out inspectors and charge the homeowner $5,200.

Every month after that, bylaw officers will show up, which will cost the homeowner between $800 and $900 per visit.

Barnscher said the fees are to recover the cost of staff time. Refusal to pay will result in the fees being added to property taxes.

The city is asking homeowners to hire a qualified professional to conduct the remediation work.

A list of qualified professionals can be found at http://www.surrey.ca/city-services/14325.aspx.

More about Health Canada’s new regulations can be found at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

kdiakiw@surreyleader.com

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