Legalization of Recreational Cannabis
The use of cannabis (marijuana) for recreational purposes is now legal across Canada, as per the Cannabis Act (Bill C-45). Individuals 19 or over are now allowed to possess and share up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or equivalent in non-dried form, grow up to four plants per household, and make food and drink products containing cannabis at home.
In British Columbia cannabis will be sold through a combination of public, and privately-run retail stores. At this time the District of Sooke will not be granting new businesses licenses for retail cannabis stores, since a moratorium was put in place in November, 2016. This interim measure was done to ensure that residents can have a say on any future cannabis regulations. Only after thorough public engagement and careful deliberation will Council decide how to address recreational cannabis. If, and when, this moratorium is lifted all applications for cannabis retail stores will have to be approved by the Provincial Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch. As part of this approval process applications must be referred to the District, which must consult with residents and make a positive recommendation in order for the license to be issued.
All commercial recreational cannabis production facilities in the District of Sooke must be approved and licensed by Health Canada. In addition to complying with all applicable municipal bylaws (i.e. zoning), cannabis production within the Agricultural Land Reserve must be grown in a soil base, as per section 2.5 of the Agricultural Land Reserve Use, Subdivision and Procedure Regulation. The Government of Canada has established a licensing framework, with health, safety, and security standards for cannabis production at different scales. Applicants must notify the District and local RCMP of their intent to obtain a license, the license type, and the location of their proposed facility prior to applying for a license from the Federal Government
The District of Sooke is currently determining how it will address the changes brought about by the legalization of recreational cannabis, particularly the implications of retail stores, production facilities, and public consumption. It is anticipated that a Report for Information will be brought forward to Council later this year to get direction on this important topic, with public engagement to follow.
In the meantime, if you have any questions/comments about the District’s approach to recreational cannabis, please contact Nicholas Deibler, Planner 1, at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Report to council for direction (November 26, 2018)
2. Targeted stakeholder engagement (Early 2019)
3. Report to Committee of the Whole discussing policy options (January 21, 2019)
4. Consider amendments to the zoning bylaw and other policies/bylaws to address recreational cannabis (Mid-2019)