In the Mission district of British Columbia, a controlled substances bylaw has led to fines for dozens of residents who were growing food and flowers.
The bylaw enabled the district to inspect homes where there were suspected marijuana grow operations. Because of the climate, however, many residents were using indoor grow setups to grow plants like cucumbers that don’t do well in the chillier northern temperatures. Fortunately, after receiving so many complaints about improper enforcement, Mission suspended the bylaw, but there are still residents who were billed thousands of dollars (before the bylaw’s suspension), even after inspections found no marijuana on site.
The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) is filing a class action lawsuit against the Mission district on behalf of citizens like Len Gratto and Stacy Gowanlock who were fined $5200 apiece for inspections under the bylaw. They were growing cucumbers, flowers, and other edibles in their basements. According to the Vancouver Sun:
Some residents hit with $5,200 fines feel they have had their reputations ruined. At least one has lost their home after the bank learned of the violation enforcement by Mission, [BCCLA policy director Micheal] Vonn said.
Unlike the case in Georgia, these fines aren’t related to how much they were growing. The bylaw allowed the district to inspect homes that were using more than an average amount of electricity, and the $5200 was an inspection fee. More from Vancouver Sun:
…the Mission bylaw is supposed to enforce safety inspections of homes and flows from the provincial Safety Standards Act, which allows hydro companies to disclose high users of electricity to municipalities.
“We’ve had long-standing concerns about the safety inspections themselves,” Vonn said. “It’s not about safety -it’s about looking for drug operations.”
These home gardeners didn’t break any laws, yet they’re facing fines in the thousands and seeing devaluation on their homes. The BCCLA filed a class action lawsuit against the Mission district last Wednesday on behalf of these gardeners.
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by karenandbrademerson