Cannabis Legalization and Medical Marijuana Facilities
Cannabis Legalization & Medical Marijuana Facilities
There are two issues related to cannabis/marijuana:
- New federal legalization for recreational use
- 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.
In April 2017, the federal government introduced legislation to legalize and regulate recreational cannabis in Canada by July 2018. 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, includes:
- personal recreational and medical use in public and private places
- personal growing (for recreational use)
- legal online sales (for recreational use)
Ontario regulates the use, sale, and distribution of recreational cannabis. In general, anywhere that tobacco use is permitted, so will 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
- Niagara Regional Police Service will enforce illegal storefronts
- The Ontario Cannabis Store would be the exclusive wholesaler to these stores
- Private stores would be introduced with strict controls to safeguard children and youth and combat the illegal market
- The Province is still working through the details on these retail outlets
- Cannabis stores will need to observe a minimum distance from schools in place of local planning controls. Beyond this licensing control, it is uncertain how the license process will address other local municipal sensitivities.
- Municipalities can opt in or out of cannabis sales in their community
- Can opt out by Jan. 22, 2019
- If municipalities opt out at this time, they can opt in at a later, yet to be set date
- If municipalities opt in, they cannot opt out at a later date
At this time, there are unknowns as it relates to the implementation of Ontario's laws. While legalization is 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.
Here's 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.
- 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 to address the changing provincial legislation and federal legalization:
- Provide Council with two recommendation reports in January 2019
- One report to outline options for Lincoln, including:
- a proposed interim control by-law
- potential future revisions to the Town Zoning By-law (e.g., new zoning categories, specific zoning provisions including setbacks and distance separation criteria, minimum parcel size, lot coverage, etc.)
- property standards and clean yards considerations
- business licensing for grower and retail operations
- One report with recommendations on opting in or out of retail operations for April 2019
- 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
- One report to outline options for Lincoln, including:
Medical Marijuana Facilities
- Personal medical use in public spaces is the same as recreational use, listed above, and regulated by the Smoke Free Ontario Act and Regional By-law
- Licensing and compliance to regulations of growing facilities belongs to the federal government
- However, oversight of the regulations from federal and provincial perspective is multi jurisdictional to include Health Canada and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) - Environmental Management Branch
- These facilities operate under different legislation than the legalization of cannabis for recreational use. It is the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations
- The Town’s current jurisdiction is property standards infractions, as per the municipal By-law
- Licences are only issued by Health Canada once it has been determined that all information submitted demonstrates compliance with the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) and the facility has been built. Each application undergoes a detailed assessment and review, including in-depth security checks undertaken by the RCMP.
- The authorized licensed producers are listed on Health Canada’s website
- Health Canada conducts compliance and monitoring activities of regulated parties to ensure compliance with the various regulations to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). These activities include education, complaint investigations and inspecting licensed sites, or sites applying to be licensed to conduct regulated activities.
- Information about a producer’s requirements can be found on the Health Canada website
- Public Health Ontario conducted a review of literature to assess potential health effects related to odour producing emissions associated with cannabis production facilities.
- The review did not find a link to health effects from production facilities. Similar to other environmental odours as a result of agricultural practice, these odours can be a nuisance and may affect an individual’s sense of well-being by triggering a physiological response.
- 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, firstname.lastname@example.org 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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