Regulating Medical Marijuana-Related Businesses in Victoria

The City of Victoria is exploring regulations for the operation of medical marijuana-related businesses. The purpose of the regulations is to reduce community impacts of these businesses, while maintaining access to medical marijuana.

Next Steps

On July 28, staff will propose a new Medical Marijuana-Related Business Bylaw to Committee of the Whole for consideration. The new bylaw will incorporate each of the recommended regulations, which can be found below.

Committee of the Whole will also consider changes to the City’s Zoning Regulation Bylaw, which will prohibit the following uses in any zone of the City unless expressly permitted:

a) storefront marijuana retailers

b) business that allow consumption of marijuana on site

This means that a person who wishes to operate as a storefront marijuana retailer will need to apply for a rezoning for the proposed business location. A proposed policy has been developed to guide Council’s consideration of these rezoning applications, which indicates that retailers should be at least 200 metres away from a school, a licensed child care facility or another medical marijuana retailer. 

Residents and businesses will have an opportunity to provide feedback on bylaw changes and the proposed rezoning policy after they have been presented to Council on July 28, 2016.

Please stay tuned to this page for upcoming opportunities to provide your feedback.

Recommended Regulations

The recommended regulations include the following:

a) Medical marijuana-related businesses must not allow individuals under the age of 19 on the premises.

b) Medical marijuana-related businesses must not advertise, other than minimal storefront signage.

c) Storefront medical marijuana retailers must post health and safety warning signs on the premises.

d) Medical marijuana-related businesses must not allow consumption of marijuana on the premises.

e) Any business that keeps marijuana on the premises must install and maintain an air filtration system to ensure odour impacts on neighbouring properties are minimized.

f) Storefront medical marijuana retailers must not be open for business between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.

g) The premises of a storefront medical marijuana retailer can only be used for the sale of medical marijuana and accessory uses.

h) Any business that keeps marijuana on the premises must submit the following information as part of their initial business licence application and on each renewal:

  • a security plan
  • police information checks for the applicant and every on-site manager
  • proof of a security alarm contract, and
  • proof of ownership or legal possession of the premises, including the written consent of the landlord if the premises are leased.

i) Storefront medical marijuana retailers must implement the following measures to deter criminal activity while the business is open to the public:

  • at least two employees must be on duty, and
  • windows must not be blocked.

j) Any business that keeps marijuana on the premises must implement the following security measures:

  • video surveillance cameras must be installed and monitored
  • a security and fire alarm system must be installed and monitored at all times, and
  • valuables must be removed from the business premises or locked in a safe on the business premises at all times when the business is not in operation.

About Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana is regulated by Health Canada. Under current Health Canada regulations medical marijuana can be prescribed and then ordered from a licensed producer. Mail order is the only approved way to purchase medical marijuana. Although some storefront retailers are currently selling marijuana, none have a Health Canada licence that permits this. The federal government has indicated that they will be exploring options to legalize marijuana during their term.

Over the course of the last year, there has been a significant increase in the number of marijuana-related businesses operating in the City of Victoria. It is estimated there are currently at least 35 medical marijuana-related businesses in Victoria, with approximately 32 of these operating as storefront medical marijuana retailers.

Public Input to Date

In the fall of 2015, community concerns and benefits relating to the storefront sale of medical marijuana were identified. Over 80% of survey respondents seemed generally supportive of moving towards the regulation of medical marijuana-related businesses. The full engagement summary is available here: Medical Marijuana Engagement Summary Report [PDF - 7.9 MB]

A second phase of engagement in the winter of 2015 collected broad community feedback on proposed regulations relating to the operation of medical marijuana-related businesses in Victoria. The feedback heard in the last phase of engagement, including a Town Hall and online survey, can be found here: Medical Marijuana Phase Two Engagement Feedback [PDF - 20.4 MB]

Based on the feedback heard from the community, staff presented a report with proposed regulations to Council. The staff report can be found in the meeting agenda here (agenda item 5).