Cannabis Production Facilities - FAQ
Cannabis Production Facilities Frequently Asked Questions
RECENT BYLAW AMENDMENTS TO ADDRESS CANNABIS PRODUCTION FACILITIESThe Government of Canada announced the legalization of non-medical cannabis will take place in July 2018. The federal government will continue to oversee the medical marihuana regime under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), and will take on the responsibility of regulating the production of non-medical cannabis upon its legalization. Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) zoning bylaws currently permit medical marihuana production but do not specifically recognize non-medical cannabis production and the recent zoning amendments are address this use. The amendments reflect the change in terminology from "marihuana" production to "cannabis" production by the federal government and to regulate the production of cannabis for non-medical purposes to meet the demands for the legalization of recreational cannabis on July 1, 2018. In Bylaw 500, the amendments update definitions but do not change where cannabis production facilities can be located or the land use regulations, such as setbacks, that apply to cannabis production. The amendments to Bylaw 500 and Bylaw 1285 reflect the change in terminology from "marihuana" to "cannabis" and also reflect that the new federal government regulatory framework will allow medical and non-medical cannabis production.
In Bylaw 1285, cannabis production facilities are currently permitted on land within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and within the Industrial 2 Zone. The amendments to Bylaw 1285 now include Cannabis Production Facilities as a permitted use on land zoned Industrial 1 and Industrial 3.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR APPROVING CANNABIS PRODUCTION FACILITIES?Health Canada is the approval authority for Cannabis Production Facilities (CPF's) under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), or BILL C-45 (the Cannabis Act). A copy of the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations can be found here. Questions and answers regarding BILL C-45 (the Cannabis Act) can be found here.
WHAT ROLE DOES THE RDN PLAY IN RELATION TO CPF'S?The RDN is not the approval authority for cannabis production facilities licensed under the ACMPR, or BILL C-45. The Ministry of Agriculture and the Agricultural Land Commission permit the production of cannabis as a 'farm use' on land within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). As RDN land use bylaws must be consistent with Province's ALR regulations, the RDN could not prohibit the production of cannabis on ALR land. In February of 2014, the RDN adopted land use regulations which limited the production of medical marihuana to land located within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) within Electoral Areas A, C, E, G and H. In Electoral Area F, production of medical marihuana is also limited to lands within the ALR in addition to properties zoned Industrial 2 (I-2). In the Spring of 2018, the RDN adopted amendments to include Cannabis Production Facilities as a permitted use on land zoned Industrial 1 (I-1) and Industrial 3 (I-3). As of July 13, 2018, the Province made changes to what qualifies as a ‘farm use’ in relation to cannabis production in the ALR, allowing local governments to prohibit cannabis production in the ALR within their communities, unless it is grown in ways that preserve the productive capacity of agricultural land. This regulatory change, effective immediately, gives authority to local and Indigenous governments to prohibit cement-based, industrial-style, cannabis-production bunkers on ALR land in their communities, while clarifying that cannabis production in the ALR cannot be prohibited if grown lawfully:
in an open field;The RDN is reviewing these recent regulatory changes to assess whether further bylaw amendments are necessary to address cannabis production within the RDN.
in a structure that has a soil base;
in a structure that was either fully constructed or under construction, with required permits in place, prior to July 13, 2018; or
in an existing licensed operation.
Cannabis production must be in compliance with all federal and provincial regulations including, but not limited to the Agricultural Land Commission Act and the Cannabis Act. Any inquiries regarding cannabis production in the ALR or the recent provincial regulatory changes should be directed to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC). Contact information for the ALC and Health Canada can be found at the bottom of this page.
IS THERE A PUBLIC PROCESS FOR THE SITING OF CPF'S?There is no requirement from Health Canada for parties pursuing a production license to notify area residents of their intent to establish a licensed cannabis production facility on a given property. Notwithstanding this, those actively pursuing a license to produce cannabis under the ACMPR, or BILL C-45 must notify local government, fire and law enforcement authorities of their intent to obtain a production license. Any changes to the status of the license (issued, amended, revoked or suspended) also require notification to the same authorities within 30 days of the status change. Receipt of a notice of intent by local authorities in relation to a proposed CPF is not confirmation that an application has been submitted to Health Canada.
If a license is granted by Health Canada for the production of cannabis, the issuance of RDN building permits will be required in relation to new structures or for the renovation of existing structures. The issuance of building permits cannot legally require public process and building permit issuance cannot legally require information to address any potential aquifer impacts. Discharge of waste from farm operations is regulated by the Province through the Agricultural Waste Control Regulation under the Environmental Management Act. Residents can direct questions and comments to Health Canada through the contact information provided below.
WHO CAN I CONTACT WITH QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS SURROUNDING A PROPOSED, OR EXISTING CANNABIS PRODUCTION FACILITY LICENSED UNDER THE ACMPR, OR BILL C-45?
- Questions or concerns regarding proposed or existing production facilities under the ACMPR, or Bill C-45 can be addressed to Health Canada as follows:
Office of Controlled Substances
- A list of authorized producers licensed by Health Canada to produce cannabis for medical purposes can be found here.
- Questions or concerns related to standard farm practices for CPF's can be addressed to the Ministry of Agriculture and the Agricultural Land Commission:
Provincial Agricultural Land Commission
Ministry of Agriculture
General Enquiries Line
- Questions or concerns related to access to existing or proposed CPF's can be addressed to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure:
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
Vancouver Island District Office
- Questions or concerns regarding regulation of waste discharge from CPF's can be addressed to the Ministry of Environment:
Ministry of Environment
Vancouver Island Regional Office