Cannabis will be legalized on Oct. 17, 2018 and changes are needed at all levels of government to address its legalization. At the municipal level, this means amendments to By-Law N-300, The Nuisance By-law, and By-Law P-600, Respecting Municipal Parks.
Amendments will also be required to the Regional Plan and Land Use By-laws regarding appropriate zones and land use controls for commercial cannabis production facilities.
Rather than singling out cannabis use, all smoking and vaping will be treated the same. An awareness campaign will launch in early September outlining what the public can expect from the By-law changes. In the meantime, learn more about what these by-law amendments mean for you:
Where can I smoke?
There will be designated smoking areas on some municipal property, that will be promoted and indicated in the coming weeks.
Where can't I smoke?
On any municipal property not indicated as a smoking area via installed signage. This includes parks, streets, sidewalks, municipal beaches, playgrounds, municipal wharves and boat launches, trails, etc.
We will be installing signs to indicate where people can smoke. This is a change from current rules that indicate where people CAN’T smoke. We will also note how many metres from the sign you'll be able to smoke. Larger areas could be established with bookend signage (signs on either side of the zone indicating the entry/ exit of the designated area).
Signs can be permanent or temporary. For example, if there’s an event on municipal property, and organizers want permission to set up smoking sections, there will be a process to submit requests for approval.
How will you enforce these by-laws?
Municipal enforcement officers and Halifax Regional Police will enforce these amended by-laws.
When does this come into affect?
It's anticipated that the by-law amendments will come into affect Oct. 1, 2018. The federal government announced it will be legalizing recreational cannabis as of Oct. 17, 2018. Until then, recreational cannabis remains illegal.
Why treat tobacco and vaping the same as cannabis?
Recognizing by-law amendments would be needed to address the introduction of legalizing recreational cannabis, we saw this as an opportunity to address complaints we’ve heard over the years about tobacco smoke on public property as both a nuisance and a health concern through second-hand smoke.
Additionally, when it comes to enforcement, we recognized it would be very challenging to enforce a ban on just cannabis, as it would be difficult to prove exactly what substance the person was smoking/vaping. Potentially, we would need to gather samples of the product and get them tested in a lab to prove the substance type. This process would be problematic which is why we adopted a blanket ban approach.
What happens if I smoke in a public space?
You could face a penalty from by-law enforcement. The fine is a minimum of $25 and a maximum of $2,000 per offence, and in default of payment, a maximum of 30 days in jail.
How do I report smoking in a public space?
When the By-law amendments become effective, call 311.
Until federal legislation comes into effect on Oct. 17, 2018, it is still against the law to possess, use, or sell recreational cannabis.
What are the age restrictions for cannabis?
The provincial government has set the legal age for cannabis use, purchase, cultivation, and possession in Nova Scotia at 19.
How many plants can I grow?
In Nova Scotia, adults 19 years of age or older can grow up to four plants per household. Note the legislation stipulates it’s per household and not per person. Therefore, it is irrelevant how many people live in a household.
Where can I grow cannabis?
In the urban and suburban areas of the municipality, plants will have to be grown inside or in a detached structure, like a shed or greenhouse, to help ensure public safety and to mitigate the potential impact of the smell of the plants interfering with a neighbour’s enjoyment of their own property.
If you live on a lot where you don’t have municipally provided sewer and water, you will be able to grow your plants outside as there is generally much more space between properties.
I think a neighbour is growing more than four plants. What should I do?
When the By-law amendments become effective, call 311.
I’m concerned a commercial cannabis production facility could open in my neighbourhood. What’s being done about that?
By-law amendments are being prepared for Regional Council’s consideration that will clearly define where production facilities can operate. The goal will be to balance economic development opportunities with concerns related to impacts on neighbouring properties.
Before these amendments can be approved, a public hearing will be held to receive feedback on these specific proposed amendments.
Regional Council will then make a decision on how to move forward.
Where can I legally buy cannabis?
The province has indicated that cannabis will be sold through the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC), both online and in 12 existing stores. The four NSLC locations selling cannabis within the municipality are:
- Dartmouth – 650 Portland St.
- Halifax – 5540 Clyde St.
- Halifax – 3601 Joseph Howe Dr.
- Lower Sackville – 752 Sackville Dr.
All except the Clyde Street store will have retail cannabis sold in stores that also sell liquor. The Clyde Street store will be a stand-alone cannabis retailer.
How much cannabis can I possess at one time?
The provincial government has set the possession limit at 30 grams of dried cannabis, or equivalent, when outside the home.
There will be no restriction on how much cannabis you can keep at home or how you need to store cannabis in your home. Extra care is encouraged around how cannabis is stored, especially in a home with children and pets.
How will legalization affect those using cannabis for medical purposes?
The legalization of recreational cannabis will not affect the way patients access cannabis for medical purposes. However, those smoking cannabis for medical purposes must still adhere to municipal by-laws restricting smoking and vaping on public property.
I'm confused about which level of government is responsible for which part of legalization of cannabis. Can you help?
Yes, see the table below for more information.