Cannabis Legalization

Policy Review (Cannabis Cultivation, Processing and Sale)

The CVRD is reviewing its land use policies concerning cannabis cultivation, processing and sale. Currently, the zoning bylaw prohibits non-medical cannabis cultivation, processing and sale. In response to its legalization and licensing by the federal and provincial governments, the Official Community Plan is being updated to provide the policy framework for the CVRD to respond to proposals for these licenses.To provide input please contact Planning and Development Services or visit the office at 600 Comox Road in Courtenay.

The Official Community Plan provides the policy basis for reviewing applications and for implementing regulations. The Official Community Plan currently only addresses "medical marihuana production facilities" by directing them to the Agricultural Areas (e.g.. Agricultural Land Reserve) or the Resource Areas (e.g.. forestry lands). The relevant policies state that a property should undergo a site specific rezoning prior to a facility's establishment and the policies list factors to be considered in such an application, including mitigation of potential noise, odour, glare and emissions relative to adjacent land uses.

In 2018, the federal government adopted the Cannabis Act and its associated regulations. It discontinued "medical marihuana production facilities" and created "standard", "micro" and "nursery" cultivation license classes, as well as processing licenses. To apply for a licence to cultivate or process cannabis, an application to Health Canada is required along with a notice to the local government and local fire authority. An application for retail sale of cannabis requires an application to the British Columbia Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch.

Draft Policies

Concerning retail sales, the new policies will integrate cannabis retail sales into the Official Community Plan's existing policies addressing commercial uses.

Concerning cultivation and processing, the draft amendment to the Official Community Plan deletes the three policies [21(2), 58(3) and 62(2)] that speak to "medical marihuana production facilities" and replaces them with the following listed below. These policies would enable cannabis cultivation with regulations on siting, size and dimension but only in areas where agricultural or industrial uses are permitted. Where an application for a variance or rezoning is required, more in depth reviews of the proposal are conducted.

  • Section 21.(2) "Cannabis cultivation may be permitted as an agricultural or industrial use where the size and configuration of the building(s) do not detract from the rural character of the surrounding area and there are measures to mitigate potential noise, glare, odour, and emissions relative to adjacent land uses."
  • Section 21(3) "In addition to the considerations of Section 21.(2), applications involving cannabis cultivation should also provide: (a) information pertaining to liquid and solid waste management systems; (b) information pertaining to the provision of rainwater management that maintains or restores the natural hydrological function of a property; (c) mitigation of impacts on environmentally sensitive areas and/or features; (d) consideration of the effect on any adjacent land uses including residential uses and working landscapes; and, (e) consideration of the cumulative impacts of all cannabis cultivation and processing in an area."
  • Agricultural Areas Section 58(3) "New or modified cannabis cultivation, processing and sales within the Agricultural Land Reserve should consider consistency with relevant Agricultural Land Reserve regulations and bylaw standards as published by the Ministry of Agriculture."
  • Resources Areas Section 62(2) "Cannabis cultivation and processing should be directed away from the Comox Lake watershed and other watersheds relied upon for drinking water."

Personal Use of Cannabis

Please visit the Government of Canada's Get the Facts on Cannabis in Canada  and the Government of British Columbia's Cannabis Control Licensing in BC  for more information.

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