Most cannabis-related concerns around public health and safety fall under federal and provincial jurisdiction. Both of these levels of government have clearly expressed a commitment to harnessing legalization to address existing public health and safety issues with cannabis. This includes their intent to keep cannabis out of the hands of people under the age of 19 and combatting impaired driving. Cannabis is being treated similar to tobacco and will be strictly controlled, included restrictions on branding and advertising.
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Only medical cannabis is currently legal. For more information, visit https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/topics/accessing-cannabis-for-medical-purposes.html.
Possessing and selling cannabis for non-medical purposes remains illegal.
According to the federal government, recreational cannabis will be legalized sometime in summer 2018. July 1st was previously reported as the date of legalization, but the actual date of legalization may be later in the summer.
As a general rule, municipalities can regulate where certain land uses or activities may occur (‘what can be where’). The City of Nelson will be consulting the public on:
The extent of municipal government’s jurisdiction is determined by the Province. This is especially the case with controlled substances. Upcoming provincial decisions may broaden or restrict the scope of what cities like Nelson will be able to regulate at a local level.
The federal government is involved with most questions around cannabis legalization, such as possession limits, taxation, regulatory compliance, and education. It is also establishing minimum regulatory standards that each province may uphold or further restrict.
For more information, visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/policing/justice/legalization-regulation-marijuana.html.
In addition to holding the authority to establish stricter regulations than the federal government, the Province is responsible for many matters of implementation, such as how and by whom cannabis may be sold and where it may be consumed.
As of December 2017, the Province of British Columbia has determined that the minimum age to possess, purchase and consume cannabis will be 19, and cannabis will be sold in both publicly- and privately-owned retail locations. In February 2018 the Retail Sales framework was released.
For the latest updates, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/public-safety/cannabis.
If the City of Nelson does not have local regulations for retail locations in place at the time of legalization, retail outlets with a provincial licence could locate anywhere in Nelson that retail is currently permitted. This includes:
There is a lot of demand to open cannabis retail outlets in Nelson. This could result in a variety of impacts for retailers, consumers and the public. The City wants to ensure zoning and regulations, such as location and number of retail outlets, are acceptable to residents and businesses in Nelson.
Existing rules, for example, require a minimum 1-kilometre separation between liquor stores.
In addition, cannabis legalization is intended to meet a number of public health goals that local regulations must address.
Nelson’s regulations on medical cannabis were temporary measures until cannabis regulations were introduced. The only legal method to obtain it is via mail order. Under the upcoming legislation, retail cannabis outlets must be licensed by the Province and purchase their supply only from the Province. All other outlets will be considered illegal and will be subject to fines and the criminal code.
Please visit our background page on medical cannabis in Nelson for more information.
The provincial and federal governments are regulating non-medical cannabis as the federal government has decided to retain the current rules for medical cannabis stipulating that the only legal method to obtain it is through mail order from licensed production facilities.
With the legalization of cannabis for recreational purposes, the City of Nelson is taking the opportunity to consult with the community on where cannabis should be consumed, grown, and sold.
City Council adopted a moratorium on recreational cannabis in January 2018. The moratorium places a freeze on new cannabis businesses as an interim measure to allow time to sufficiently consult with the community leading up to the national legalization of cannabis in summer 2018. This is being done to ensure that the public has a say in the future of cannabis regulations in Nelson.
After consultation and significant deliberation, City Council will make a decision on the regulations that will pertain to legalized cannabis.
Existing medical cannabis dispensaries will not receive preferential treatment or priority. They will be able to apply for a provincial licence in order to continue to operate as a retail cannabis outlet following legalization in summer 2018.
An additional feedback form can be obtained by visiting Development Services, 2nd floor of City Hall at 310 Ward Street, open 8:30am until Noon and 1:30pm until 4:30pm, Monday to Friday. Please bring identification and proof-of-address.
If you live within City limits, the form is anticipated to arrive in your mailbox during the week of February 12th. If you have not received one by February 19th, please visit Development Services, 2nd floor of City Hall at 310 Ward Street, open 8.30am until Noon and 1:30pm until 4:30pm, Monday to Friday. Please bring identification and proof-of-address.
The City has done its best to ensure that each dwelling unit receives a mailing, but errors may have occurred. Note that home-based businesses will not receive a separate feedback form, as a resident feedback form will be mailed to that address.
In order to ensure the feedback received is as representative as possible of Nelson, a mail-survey will be the only method to provide feedback at the resident-level. By ensuring that each household has an equal chance to provide feedback, the goal is to have statistically significant results.
The City wants to ensure that Nelson residents and businesses have the loudest voice in providing feedback. It is difficult to configure an online survey to ensure that only those who live and own businesses here are able to participate, and participate only one time.
Additional face-to-face events are being held for the public and for community groups related to youth, families, seniors, social services, public health, and business to obtain further feedback and dialogue that might be relevant to these groups.
This has yet to be determined by the Province. It is possible that cannabis lounges or cafes will not be yet permitted this summer.
Edible cannabis products will not be legal or legally sold in 2018. The federal government has announced that they will become legal in summer 2019.
At this time, no commercial production of cannabis is permitted within City limits.
Once legalized later in 2018, adults 19 and older will be able to grow cannabis at home for personal use, but not for resale. A maximum of four (4) plants will be permitted by federal law. The Province has not determined whether it will adopt further restrictions.
In British Columbia, all non-medical cannabis products will be distributed through the provincial Liquor Distribution Branch. As with alcohol sales, this means that retail businesses will not be permitted to grow their own product or source it from a third-party.
Once cannabis is legalized:
The federal government has stated that individuals will be able to grow up to four cannabis plants per household for personal use from licensed seed or seedlings. The Province may also put in further restrictions around number of plants, as well as around public visibility and security requirements and administrative penalties.
Currently, no new cannabis businesses, medical or otherwise, are permitted in Nelson at this time.
The Province is expected to begin accepting applications for provincial licenses prior to July 2018. An applicant will have to meet all local, provincial, and federal regulations. The current medical dispensaries will need to apply for a provincial licence to continue to operate, which requires meeting all local, provincial, and federal regulations. It is anticipated that they will be treated the same as any other applicant.
Even once the federal government has formally legalized cannabis, both the provincial and municipal levels of government will need to have regulations in place before cannabis businesses are authorized to operate. The City of Nelson expects to have new regulations prior to legalization. The public will be thoroughly consulted in the coming months on what those rules could be. All cannabis-related businesses will have to comply with federal, provincial, and municipal regulations and obtain all necessary licencing, including a business licence from the City of Nelson.
It is anticipated that both local government and the public will be able to comment on private retail applications prior to the Province making a decision to approve or deny an application.
The Province has announced that it will operate cannabis stores. Where and how many have not been determined at this time. These outlets will also need to meet local government regulations. Some communities have expressed interest in only allowing government-operated stores.
Visit the federal government’s cannabis FAQ page: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/health/campaigns/introduction-cannabis-act-questions-answers.html.