In response to recent Federal legislation, the municipality is considering amendments to the Regional Plan and community land use by-laws to address commercial cannabis facilities in municipal planning documents.
The Federal Government currently regulates medical cannabis and new legislation will legalize recreational cannabis.
The Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) currently enables eligible Canadians to obtain medical cannabis from a licensed producer or produce a limited amount of cannabis for their own purposes.
On April 13, 2017, the Federal Government introduced the proposed Cannabis Act in the House of Commons, which is intended to create a strict legal framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis across Canada. The Federal Government has said that it intends to bring the proposed Cannabis Act into force by July 2018.
The Federal Government strictly regulates the commercial production of medical cannabis and intends to establish similar licensing requirements for the commercial production of recreational cannabis products. As of April 2018, there are 104 Federally licensed producers in Canada, including 3 in Nova Scotia (outside of the Halifax Regional Municipality).
What the municipality's role in regulating commercial cannabis production?
Cannabis-related businesses are expected to expand and evolve as the Federal government introduces new legislation to legalize and regulate cannabis for recreational use.
The municipality is responsible for regulating land use through planning documents (municipal planning strategies (MPS) and land use By-laws (LUB).
As they are a new type of land use, commercial cannabis production is not specifically discussed in municipal planning documents. Currently, these facilities are considered under other broadly defined land use definitions contained within the municipality's 22 community land use By-laws. In most cases, commercial cannabis production facilities are permitted in industrial zones as a ‘manufacturing use’, and depending on the specific operation and community land use By-law, the use may also meet the definition for an ‘agricultural use’ or ‘greenhouse’.
Where will the municipality permit commercial cannabis production?
From a land use perspective, most commercial cannabis production facilities are similar to manufacturing or agricultural processing facilities. Strict Federal security requirements often mean operations are appropriate for an industrial setting. Many of the existing facilities across Canada have been established within vacant industrial buildings.
Planning staff are currently reviewing where commercial cannabis production facilities may be appropriately located in the municipality. Given the industrial appearance of operations, commercial cannabis facilities may continue to be permitted in municipal industrial zones. Since several community land use By-laws include mixed use zones, planning staff are considering whether and how commercial cannabis production facilities can be considered in those areas.
The Federal Government’s proposed Cannabis Act may allow for both large-scale and small-scale operations. While large-scale operations are likely most appropriate for industrial areas, small-scale operations may be able to locate in mixed use zones, provided appropriate separation from residential and other sensitive uses can be regulated. Planning staff are currently considering how best to regulate both large and small-scale operations.
Reports and Minutes
August 15, 2017:
• Staff Report
• Regional Council Agenda
• Regional Council Minutes
Contact Planning and Development
Comments and/or questions about land use regulations for commercial cannabis production can be directed to:
Leah Perrin, Planner III
Regional and Community Policy
Government of Canada: Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis
Province of Nova Scotia: Cannabis Legalization