Port Coquitlam neighbourhood ‘terrorized’ by medical marijuana grow-operation
Published Thursday, February 21, 2013 3:50PM PST
Last Updated Thursday, February 21, 2013 7:50PM PST
Port Coquitlam residents say they’re being terrorized by a medical marijuana grow operation in their neighbourhood, but the grower has no plans to stop production.
For months, residents have fought to shut down the licensed medical marijuana grow, worried about the risk of mistaken grow-rips or fire. Fans are constantly running, the smell of pot is pervasive and the house itself is flanked by multiple surveillance cameras.
A resident who wanted only to be identified as Anna equates the situation to “residential terrorism,” and is concerned about her family’s safety.
“It's a terrible feeling because it's so close to my house,” she told CTV News.
Community concerns prompted a police and city search of the home. City officials say the sweep revealed 600 plants, more than three times the 171 the licensee was allowed to have in the home.
Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore said the situation highlights the problems with Health Canada regulations. He wants operator Kousha Malekpour shut down.
“I would hope that anyone convicted of growing more plants than he's allowed would not be allowed to grow more,” Moore said.
City officials cut off power and water to the home, angering Malekpour, who insists he is running a legitimate business.
“To me having this grow operation is just like owning a Starbucks. It's no different,” he said.
Malkepour said he uses marijuana to deal with his pain. He grows for two other licenses and another is on the way.
Malkepour said he grows on behalf of people with licenses and after he gives them their portion the rest goes back to the marijuana dispensaries.
“We sell back to dispensaries and pay more tax than you people standing here,” he said.
B.C. has nearly 25,000 medical marijuana licenses – the most of any province.
Malekpour has a criminal record for theft and threatening a police officer, and last August he was arrested after a high-speed motorcycle chase through Metro Vancouver.
But Health Canada says only a drug offence can prevent someone from obtaining a license. Malekpour vows to continue growing.
In an email to CTV News, a Health Canada spokesperson said any operation that exceeds its limit “may be subject to law enforcement,” but did not specify what the penalties are.
Last fall, the federal government announced it intends to make changes to the way Canadians access medical marijuana.
The proposed new ‘Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations’ will eliminate home grow operations and move production to commercial growers.
Under the new rules, to be finalized by March 2014, anyone who requires medical marijuana would have to buy it from licensed producers.