Cannabis Legalization

Cannabis Legalization 

There are two issues related to cannabis/marijuana:

  1. New federal legalization for recreational use

  2. Medical marijuana facilities

The two issues are regulated differently at a federal, provincial, and municipal level. Below is information on the two issues, commonly requested information, and enforcement information.


The Cannabis Act creates rules for producing, possessing and selling cannabis across Canada. As part of that legislation, provinces have the authority to regulate the use, distribution, and sale of recreational cannabis.

In December 2017, Ontario passed legislation to regulate the lawful use, sale, and distribution of recreational cannabis to address the federal legalization of July 2018. Post-provincial election in May, the provincial government introduced new amended legislation (Bill 36) on Sept. 27, 2018, to address the federal legalization on Oct. 17, 2018.

Legalization on Oct. 17, 2018, included:

  • personal recreational and medical use in public and private places
  • personal growing (for recreational use)
  • legal online sales (for recreational use)

Ontario Rules

Ontario regulates the use, sale, and distribution of recreational cannabis. In general, anywhere that tobacco use is permitted, so is cannabis use (vape or smoke). Prohibition of recreational or medical cannabis use in public spaces aligns with Smoke Free Ontario Act.

Sale (for recreational use only)

  • Legal sale is restricted to online sales at this time and operated by the Ontario Cannabis Store
    • Users must by 19+ years of age to access the online store and receive deliveries of cannabis
    • Up to 30 g (about one ounce) of dried cannabis can be purchased at one time for personal use
  • The Province has also introduced legislation for a tightly regulated private retail model for cannabis that will launch by April 1, 2019
    • The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is the provincial regulator authorized to grant store licenses, and to inspect, investigate and enforce rules for registered operators and stores
      • AGCO retail regulation facts - outlines AGCO role in regulating retail following the proclamation of The Cannabis Retail Act on Nov. 16, 2018
      • AGCO Cannabis Retail Landscape Infographic - provides an overview of the cannabis retail regulation landscape in Ontario
      • A lottery system was announced on Dec. 13, 2018, indicating only 25 licenses would be given in the first round for April 1, 2019. Communities with a population over 50,000 were eligible for a retail store.
    • Niagara Regional Police Service will enforce illegal storefronts
    • The Ontario Cannabis Store would be the exclusive wholesaler to these stores
    • Cannabis stores will need to observe a minimum distance from schools (150 metres or 500 feet) in place of local planning controls
    • Municipalities could opt in or out of allowing retail stores in their municipality. Lincoln opted in on Jan. 21, 2019.

Local jurisdiction

At this time, there are still unknowns as it relates to the implementation of Ontario's laws. While legalization was effective Oct. 17, 2018, Ontario continues to develop the implementation as it relates to local municipalities. Municipalities continue to work with the Province to better understand the retail and enforcement aspects and our local jurisdiction.

What we know now:

Use of cannabis in public spaces (recreational and medical use):

  • Regulated by the Smoke Free Ontario Act (SFOA) and any other local by-laws
  • In Niagara, Regional By-law 112-2013 is in place restricting tobacco use further in outdoor spaces
  • Niagara Region Public Health enforces the SFOA and Regional By-law 112-2013
  • Similar to tobacco, an odour will be prevalent from smoking and vaping cannabis. While this may be a nuisance, the SFOA only addresses places where cannabis can be used in terms of second-hand smoke and there are no rules regarding the odour
    • Concerns or complaints should be directed to their Tobacco Hotline at 905-688-8248 or 1-888-505-6074 ext. 7393 or online.

Growing of cannabis for recreational use

  • Up to four plants per residence (not person) is permitted
  • These can be grown indoors or outdoors
  • Concerns or complaints should be directed to Niagara Regional Police Service - For Grimsby, Lincoln and West Lincoln, call 905-945-2211

Next steps for Lincoln:

  • Council approved two key items in January 219:
    • Two recommendation reports  were provided to Council on Jan. 7, 2019
      • Approved - An Interim Control By-law to be implemented:
        • to provide the Town with the opportunity to review its Zoning By-law and undertake a study to consider potential include land-use controls for cannabis cultivation (e.g., new zoning categories, specific zoning provisions including setbacks and distance separation criteria, minimum parcel size, lot coverage, etc.)
          • business licensing for grower and retail operations
          • property standards and clean yards considerations
      • One report with recommendations on opting in or out of retail operations for April 2019
        • Council voted to opt in to allowing retail stores in Lincoln, with these additional items as part of the motion:
        • a letter be sent to the Premier and appropriate Ministries, requesting that municipalities be given greater regulatory authority for input and control regarding:
          • the location and distance separation from sensitive uses such as parks, schools, day care and health care facilities;
          • advertising and signage;
          • hours of operation;
          • ability to restrict or prohibit operations that violate municipal standards such as noise, nuisance or property standards; and
          • the number of retail stores within their limits
  • There continue to be many items that are not yet confirmed by the Province that will impact a municipalities ability to be proactive and as such, staff remain vigilant in keeping up to date with new information released by the Province and incorporating into work planning


Reporting Concerns:

Licensing is overseen by the Government of Canada. Therefore, complaints regarding odours, practices, and licensing should be directed through the following channels:

  1. Commercial operations: email or phone 1-866-337-7705

  2. Medical: online form 

Concerns relating to farm practices under the Farming and Food Protection Act can be directed to the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board at OMAFRA’s Agricultural Information Contact Centre, or 1-877-424-1300

Concerns about public safety or illegal behaviour should be directed to Niagara Regional Police Services

Complaints about property standards should be directed to the Town’s Municipal Law Enforcement

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