Cannabis sales and consumption

We are proposing several bylaw changes that will allow us to regulate some aspects of the sale and use of legal, non-medical cannabis in the District.

While responsibility for the regulation of cannabis falls primarily to the federal and provincial governments, we have authority to regulate businesses and land uses, which will help us further control where cannabis is stored, sold, and used, since it became legal across Canada on October 17, 2018.

Status as of March 11, 2019

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.

Staff have finished compiling the results of that consultation, and are reporting back to Council on what we heard on Monday, March 11, 2019.

View the staff report to Council, starts on page 103 (PDF; 19.9MB)

Review the proposed changes

Here are the changes we are proposing, which will allow us to regulate how legal, non-medical cannabis is sold and consumed in the District. Details include some background information on the Cannabis Act, which explains which level of government is responsible for regulating what aspect of legal cannabis.

Proposed rules 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.

Proposed rules 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

Proposed rules for 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.

Background information

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