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.

Frequently Asked Questions
I thought cannabis was already legal. What is happening now?

Prior to October 17, 2018 only medical cannabis was legal. The medical cannabis program will continue to be in place until it is re-evaluated within the next five years. For more information on medical cannabis visit:

What is the CVRD doing about cannabis legalization?

The CVRD amended its Zoning Bylaw to prohibit non-medical cannabis production and retail sales in Electoral Areas A, B and C.  Any cannabis production or retail sales proposal would have to undergo a Rezoning or Temporary Use Permit application. This would allow a site specific review to determine if the location and use is appropriate. The public would be able to provide input and comment on the application and proposed use at the time of the application. 

Will there be business licenses issued in the CVRD?

No, the CVRD does not issue business licenses. Instead, the CVRD will use zoning as the tool to review and regulate cannabis retail sales in the Electoral Areas.

Will residents be allowed to smoke cannabis in public places?

No, the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act prohibits the smoking and vaping of tobacco in public places including regional parks, playgrounds and public facilities. 

Who do I contact at the CVRD regarding a complaint about cannabis odour?

In certain situations the CVRD may be able to have odour mitigated by using the unsightly premises and nuisance bylaw. Please contact bylaw compliance to submit a question or complaint.

Who do I contact if I suspect my neighbour is growing more than four plants?

Home cultivation limits are set by the province and enforced by the RCMP. Contact the RCMP at 250-338-1321 if you have any concerns.

Where will cannabis be allowed to be grown in the CVRD once legal?

At this time, no commercial production of recreational use cannabis is permitted in Electoral Areas A, B or C.  Adults 19 and older will be able to grow cannabis at home for personal use, but not for resale. A maximum of four plants is permitted by federal and provincial law.

Where can I purchase recreational cannabis in the CVRD?

Currently, there are no approved retail locations in the Electoral Areas A, B or C. Once applications are received, the CVRD will review and process applications on a case-by-case basis. Members of the public will have the opportunity to provide input on an application at the time of rezoning or through the Temporary Use Permit process.

Will ‘edibles’ (cannabis food products) be legal?

The federal government has announced that edible cannabis products will become legal within 12 months of the Cannabis Act coming into force.

Who is enforcing the new cannabis regulations?

In most situations, it will be the RCMP who will enforce cannabis regulations and laws. Contact the RCMP at 250-338-1321 if you have a concern.

As a general rule, local governments can regulate certain land uses or activities. Contact CVRD bylaw compliance to submit a question or complaint.

I want to open a cannabis retail location, whom should I contact?

The CVRD prohibits the retail sale of cannabis in Electoral Areas A, B or C without proper zoning. Individuals interested in opening a cannabis retail location will have to apply for a Rezoning or a Temporary Use Permit. All cannabis related businesses will have to comply with federal, provincial and CVRD regulations and obtain all necessary licensing from the provincial government. Contact the BC Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch, who are responsible for the licensing and monitoring of the cannabis retail sector. The rules governing retail stores will be similar to those currently in place for liquor and public and private retailers will have similar operating rules.

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