Cannabis RetailThe nationwide legalization of non-medical cannabis (NMC) by the summer of 2018 presents challenges to all levels of government. The federal government will continue to oversee the medical cannabis regime under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations and will take on the responsibility of regulating the production of NMC upon its legalization. Please see the Cannabis Production Facilities - FAQ page for further information.
On April 26, 2018, the Province introduced legislation to provide for legal, controlled access to NMC in British Columbia. The proposed Cannabis Distribution Act (CDA) will establish the Province's exclusive jurisdiction over wholesale distribution of cannabis and provide authority for public retail sales. The proposed Cannabis Control Licensing Act (CCLA) establishes provincial control over the sale, supply and possession of NMC and establishes licensing of private cannabis retailers, including registration and training requirements for those who will work in cannabis retail. The CCLA also outlines restrictions on the possession, personal cultivation and consumption of cannabis by adults, prohibitions for minors and includes an extensive compliance and enforcement regime.
In British Columbia, the wholesale distribution of NMC will be solely through the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB). The LDB will be the operator of government-run retail stores and the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch will be responsible for licensing and monitoring the retail sector using a mixed public/private model. The approach the Province has taken is comparable to the existing liquor licensing process, with the exception that the Province has advised that it will not grant NMC retail licences without a supporting local government resolution. The Province's stated intention in taking this approach is to give local governments control over whether and where NMC retail stores are established in their communities.
At the May 22 Board meeting, Policy B1.24 Non-medical Cannabis Retail Store Licence Applications have been adopted to help in the review and comment of NMC licence applications. This policy approach is similar to the approach the RDN has taken with regard to reviewing and commenting on liquor licence applications. Policy B1.24 outlines:
- Application requirements
- Community impact evaluation criteria (including separation from sensitive uses), and
- Public consultation requirements.
- Policy B1.24 Non-medical Cannabis Retail Store Licence Applications
- Liquor Cannabis Application Form
Key Points in Policy B1.24
- NMC retail stores must be in a zone allowing for 'retail store' as a principal permitted use
- NMC retail stores must have a separation distance of 300 metres from schools, playgrounds, community centres and daycares as well as other NMC retail stores.
- Written notice of an application will be provided to owners and tenants within a distance of 300 metres
The Provincial online portal for applicants to submit NMC retail licence applications has recently opened. For further information on the licensing process, please go to the following link: justice.gov.bc.ca/cannabislicensing.