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 ndeibler@sooke.ca

Estimated Timeline:

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)

FAQ

Where can I legally consume cannabis in Sooke?

The use of cannabis is not allowed in outdoor public spaces (such as parks and playgrounds), in vehicles and boats, in workplaces, and within 7 meters of any publicly-accessible building or structure. Indoor consumption is only permitted in private residences.

For more information about where you can consume recreational cannabis please consult Capital Regional District Clean Air Bylaw No. 1, 2014: https://www.crd.bc.ca/project/clean-air-bylaw

Am I able to sell and purchase edible cannabis products for recreational purposes?

No. The Cannabis Act excludes edible cannabis products as a legal form of recreational cannabis to be purchased and sold. The Federal Government intends to authorize edible products for sale in approximately one year’s time.  In addition, the sale of edible cannabis products is in contravention of the BC Food Premises Regulation, B.C. Reg. 2010 99. 

Can I open a recreational cannabis retail store in Sooke? If so, how?

No, The District of Sooke is currently not granting any new business licenses for retail cannabis stores. If, and when, this moratorium is lifted all applications for cannabis retail stores will have to be approved first by the Provincial Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch, who will then refer all applications to the District of Sooke.

For more information about Provincial licensing for retail stores please consult the following website: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/employment-business/business/liquor-regulation-licensing/cannabis-regulation

What about Sooke’s existing cannabis retail stores?

The 3 existing cannabis stores in Sooke were granted commercial business licenses by the District prior to the 2016 Council directed moratorium. They will need to go through the same process as applicants for new cannabis stores to be licensed to sell recreational cannabis.

How does the legalization of recreational cannabis relate to cannabis for medical purposes?

The current regime for medical cannabis will continue to allow access to cannabis for people who have been authorized by their healthcare provider.

For more information about cannabis for medical purposes, please consult the following website: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/topics/cannabis-for-medical-purposes.html

Can I produce cannabis on ALR land?

Yes, but only if it is grown in a soil base, either indoors or outdoors. Please see section 2.5 of the ALC Act Agricultural Land Reserve Use, Subdivision and Procedure Regulation.

What are the security requirements for a cannabis production facility?

Health Canada’s physical security requirements for a cannabis production facility depend on several factors, and can be found here: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-medication/cannabis/industry-licensees-applicants/licensing-summary/guide.html#d

Will I be able to have a say about how cannabis is regulated in Sooke?

Yes! The District of Sooke will not be making any decisions about how to address recreational cannabis until thorough public engagement has taken place. The form of this engagement has not yet been determined, but will likely include an online survey, open house(s), and public hearings.