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.

About Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana is regulated by Health Canada. Under current 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 and have announced their intention to introduce legislation next spring.

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 38 medical marijuana-related businesses in Victoria, with approximately 35 of these operating as storefront medical marijuana retailers.

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On July 28, 2016, staff presented several bylaws to Council that would regulate the business licence and land use aspects of marijuana-related businesses. The meeting webcast and the staff report can be viewed here (item 5.) Public consultation over the past year has informed many of the regulations.

The City is now seeking additional feedback on the following regulations:

Prohibit marijuana-related businesses everywhere in Victoria, unless permitted through the rezoning process.

Please share your feedback with Council at the Public Hearing on September 8, 2016, starting at 6:30 p.m. inside City Hall, or by email to legislativeservices@victoria.ca by September 6, 2016. Following the Public Hearing, Council will consider adopting this Zoning Regulation Bylaw amendment.

A summary of the proposed regulations and bylaws can be found below.

Next Steps

August 8 - August 22

Share your feedback on the proposed advertising restrictions to legislativeservices@victoria.ca [NOW CLOSED]

 

September 8

Public Hearing for the proposal to prohibit medical marijuana-related businesses unless permitted through the rezoning process, starting at 6:30 p.m. inside City Hall.

 

Following the Public Hearing, Council will consider adopting this Zoning Regulation Bylaw amendment.

 

September 22

Council will consider final approval of the new Medical Marijuana Business Licence Bylaw.

 

October 1

Should the new Medical Marijuana Business Licence Bylaw receive final approval, the City will start accepting Business Licence Applications for Marijuana-Related Businesses.

 

December (to be confirmed)

Should the September 8 Public Hearing result in Council approval, the City will start accepting Rezoning Applications.

Regulations

Under the proposed regulations, all businesses where medical marijuana is kept are considered a marijuana-related business. Those that sell directly to someone who attends the premises are also considered a storefront marijuana retailer. The following is a summary of the proposed regulations.

Fees

  • $7,500 Rezoning Fee
  • $5,000 Business Licence fee for Storefront Marijuana Retailers
  • $500 for other businesses where marijuana is kept on the premises

Land Use & Rezoning Regulations

  • All storefront marijuana retailers will be required to undergo a rezoning process
  • Rezoning for the retailers will not require a meeting of the Community Association Land Use Committee
  • According to the proposed Storefront Marijuana Retailer Rezoning Policy, retailers should be at least 200 m (in a straight line from closest lot line to closest lot line) from schools or other retailers.
  • Retailers must meet off-street parking requirements

Business Operations Regulations

  • Medical marijuana-related businesses must not:
    • allow individuals under the age of 19 on the premises
    • advertise, other than minimal storefront signage
    • allow consumption of marijuana on the premises
    • be open for business between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.
  • Storefront medical marijuana retailers must post health and safety warning signs on the premises.
  • 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.
  • The premises of a storefront medical marijuana retailer can only be used for the sale of medical marijuana and accessory uses. Only one business licence will be issued per location – this will restrict the use of ATMs and vending machines on the premises, as each of these requires their own business licence.

Security

  • 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.
  • 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, one of whom is a manager, and
    • windows must not be blocked
  • 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.

Proposed Bylaws

The following bylaws are being considered by Council for the regulation of medical marijuana-related businesses in the City. The proposed bylaws can be found in the July 28 staff report available here.

In addition, a Storefront Marijuana Retailer Rezoning Policy is being considered by Council, for use when considering rezoning applications.

Rezoning

On September 8, 2016, Council will hold a Public Hearing for the proposal to prohibit medical marijuana-related businesses unless permitted through the rezoning process. The Public Hearing will start at 6:30 p.m. inside City Hall. Following the Public Hearing, Council will consider adopting this Zoning Regulation Bylaw amendment.

Information on zoning specific to storefront marijuana retailers will follow.

For general information on zoning, please click here.

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).

Additional feedback is being collected until August 22, 2016 on the proposed regulations for businesses, particularly relating to the restriction of advertising. The community is also invited to speak at the Public Hearing on the proposed Zoning Regulation Bylaw Amendments, on September 8, 2016 starting at 6:30 p.m. inside City Hall.