Cannabis sales and consumption

Following a period of public consultation, Council approved a new policy on July 22, 2019 that permits the sale of legal, non-medical cannabis in the District.

While responsibility for the regulation of cannabis falls primarily to the federal and provincial governments, our new Non-medical Cannabis Policy enables us to regulate businesses and land use, which helps us control where cannabis is stored and sold.

In conjunction with this new policy, we have also established a process for obtaining a licence to operate a non-medical cannabis business.

Thinking of starting a non-medical cannabis retail business?

We are accepting applications to open cannabis retail stores located within designated areas of the District. If you are interested in opening a cannabis store, learn about the requirements and find out how to apply.

Work to allow legal cannabis retail sales 

The new cannabis policy indicates where retail cannabis can be sold. Retail cannabis continues to be prohibited everywhere except in zones that permit the retail sale of liquor, and where specific address are rezoned for this use in District Zoning Bylaw 3210.

Council has directed staff to amend the following bylaws to define cannabis and regulate retail stores:

These bylaw amendments have worked their way through the statutory process. Here is what has happened so far:

December 2, 2019 — Adoption

The bylaw amendments were presented to Council, where they were adopted.

November 10, 2019 — Second and third reading

The bylaw amendments were presented to council, where they were given second and third reading.

November 5, 2019 — Public hearing 

The bylaw amendments were presented at a public hearing, which is the public's opportunity to speak directly to Council about a proposed change to bylaws.

October 7, 2019 — First reading

The bylaw amendments were presented to Council, where they were given first reading.

July 23, 2019 — Council consideration

Council approved the Non-medical Cannabis Policy, and directed staff to being the application intake process for retail cannabis businesses.

March 11, 2019 — Staff report to Council

Staff reported back to Council the results of the public consultation held from July to September, 2018.

July 20 to September 7, 2018 — Public consultation

From July 20, 2018 to September 7, 2018, we hosted an online survey, where we asked residents to share their thoughts on our proposed bylaw changes.

June 11, 2018 — Staff recommendation to Council

In advance of the federal government's legalization of non-medical cannabis in October, 2018, staff recommended to Council that we begin consultation to understand the public's views on permitting retail sales in the District, and on our proposed bylaw changes. Council subsequently directed staff to begin consultation.

Background materials

This section includes the changes we proposed in 2018 in order to regulate how legal, non-medical cannabis is sold and consumed in the District. It includes background information on the Cannabis Act, and explains which level of government is responsible for regulating what aspect of legal cannabis.

Rules we proposed for locating cannabis stores

What the province is allowing

The province is responsible for licensing cannabis retail stores.

While they are permitting local governments to decide whether they wish to have cannabis retail stores, they are requiring municipalities to consult with residents in the vicinity of any proposed cannabis store before they will issue a licence.

Additional regulations we recommend

Staff recommend amending our existing Zoning Bylaw to allow non-medical cannabis retail stores in zones that allow liquor stores, but with a 200m buffer around elementary and high schools, to limit exposure to children and youth.

While we would accept applications from any site with the appropriate zoning, permission would not be guaranteed, but subject to public input.

Map of potential retail locations

The brown areas on this map indicate the locations where we would accept applications to open cannabis stores (the grey circles represent the 200m buffer around schools). Each application would be subject to public input before the province would issue a licence.

Rules we proposed for distributing and selling cannabis

What the province is allowing

The BC Liquor Distribution Branch will purchase cannabis from licensed producers and transport it to their warehouses, where it will be distributed to public and private retail stores.

The Liquour Control and Licensing Branch of the province will be responsible for licensing the private stores, and monitoring the retail sector. They will conduct background and criminal record checks before issuing licenses, and will not permit cannabis to be sold in the same store as liquor or tobacco.

Additional regulations we recommend

  • Amend the existing District Business Licence Bylaw to include retail cannabis stores as a new business class
  • Restrict cannabis store hours of operation to 9am to 9pm (provincial hours of operation are from 9am to 11pm)
  • Create a new fee for cannabis business licences that will cover the cost of staff time required to oversee new cannabis businesses

Rules for proposed for regulating public consumption of cannabis

What the province is allowing

The province is generally allowing adults to use non-medical cannabis in public spaces where tobacco smoking and vaping is permitted.

However, they are banning use in areas frequented by children, including community beaches, parks, and playgrounds. They are also banning it from all vehicles.

Additional regulations we recommend

In addition to these provincial rules, staff recommend amending the existing District Smoking Regulation Bylaw to add cannabis and vaping under the 'smoking' definition. 

Under this change, businesses will be required to post a sign reminding people to smoke at least six metres away from any point directly below any opening into their store, including any door or window that opens, or any air intake.

Vancouver Coastal Health is responsible for enforcing this bylaw.

What each level of government is responsible for regulating

The Cannabis Act

On October 17, 2018, non-medical cannabis use will become legal in Canada, under the Cannabis Act.

Under the Act, adults 18 or older will be legally able to:

  • possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis, dried or equivalent in non-dried form in public
  • share up to 30 grams of legal cannabis with other adults
  • buy dried or fresh cannabis and cannabis oil from a provincially-licensed retailer
  • grow, from licensed seed or seedlings, up to 4 cannabis plants per residence for personal use
  • make cannabis products, such as food and drinks, at home as long as organic solvents are not used to create concentrated products

Which government regulates what?

While the federal and provincial governments will regulate much of the activity related to the production, sale, and use of cannabis, municipalities — including the District — have authority to make some of the decisions around how non-medical cannabis will be regulated, particularly related to public consumption, land use, and zoning.

Activity Federal Provincial Municipal
Possession limits X    
Trafficking X    
Advertisement & packaging X    
Impaired driving X X  
Medical cannabis X    
Seed-to-sale tracking system X    
Production (cultivation and processing) X    
Age limit (federal minimum) X X  
Public health X X  
Education X X X
Taxation X   X
Home cultivation (growing plants at home) X    
Workplace safety   X  
Distribution and wholesaling   X  
Retail model   X  
Retail location and rules   X X
Regulatory compliance X X X
Public consumption   X X
Land use/zoning   X X

Learn more about legal cannabis use

Government of Canada

Get more details of the Cannabis Act

Get the facts about cannabis in Canada

Province of BC

BC's approach to cannabis legalization

Bill 30: BC's Cannabis Control and Licensing Act

Non-medical cannabis retail licencing 

"Don't Drive High": Public safety campaign

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