Staff Report Urges Halifax Government to Prepare Legal Framework For Retail Cannabis Dispensaries

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A staff report that will go before the government of the Halifax Regional Municipality on Tuesday urges the municipal government to take a proactive approach and begin developing policies and regulations permitting retail cannabis dispensaries within the municipality once the adult-use market is legalized at the federal level.

The report sets out three courses of action for the municipal government regarding its potential role in regulating cannabis production facilities and dispensaries:

  1. Await Federal and Provincial legislation concerning the legalization of cannabis.
  2. Prepare policies and regulations concerning commercial medical cannabis facilities only.
  3. Prepare policies and regulations concerning both commercial cannabis facilities and dispensaries.

The report recommends option three, noting that since “it may still be some time before Provincial legislation is in place, this option could help HRM (Halifax Regional Municipality) proactively assess how to direct cannabis related business to appropriate locations.”  The report also notes that “proactive policy development efforts may help to define the Municipal role and define interim policy and regulatory measures that would be required if there are gaps between the enactment of the Cannabis Act in July 2018 and the implementation of Provincial legislative framework.”

With respect to dispensaries, the recommendation is that the government continue to monitor the Federal and Provincial cannabis legalization initiatives and report back to Council for further direction once the municipality’s role in regulating the use is more clear.  “At the same time, staff will initiate a policy review of cannabis dispensaries, and define any interim measures that could come into place while the Provincial government is working on the broader legislative framework for Nova Scotia.”

With respect to production facilities, which are legal and currently permitted in a variety of industrial and rural zones (although as of yet there are no licensed producers in Nova Scotia), staff recommends that a further “detailed review and stakeholder consultation is needed to clarify the zones that permit cannabis production facilities and ensure the use is appropriate separated from residential areas.”

The motion that will be voted on has been framed as follows:

That Halifax Regional Council direct staff to:

  1. Monitor Federal and Provincial initiatives concerning the legalization and regulation of cannabis for recreational use and report back to Council for further direction once there is greater clarity concerning HRM’s role in regulating the retail sale of cannabis products.
  2. Initiate a process to consider amendments to the Regional Municipal Planning Strategy, Community Municipal Planning Strategies and community land use by-laws, as appropriate, regarding appropriate zones and land use controls for commercial cannabis production facilities and dispensaries that strive to balance economic development opportunities with concerns related to impacts on neighbouring properties.

The Council meeting begins at 10:00 a.m. local time on Tuesday and can be watched live in its entirety here.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

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