Cannabis Retailers

On October 17, 2018, the Federal government will legalize non-medical cannabis with Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act. This major change to national legislation is, in turn, triggering changes in how the Town of Gibsons will treat existing non-medicinal cannabis retail stores, and how future applications for a licence to sell non-medicinal cannabis within Town boundaries will be processed.

For an overview of these changes, please refer to the frequently asked questions below.

For a more comprehensive discussion, please refer to the Staff Report on Cannabis Legalization File No: 6440-39.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many cannabis dispensaries currently exist in the Town of Gibsons?

Three dispensaries currently operate within Town boundaries: the Healing Hut in Lower Gibsons; the S&M Sweet Shoppe in Upper Gibsons; and the Rainforest Compassion Club, also in Upper Gibsons.

If cannabis is not yet legal, why do dispensaries already exist with Town boundaries?

In 2016, when Gibsons first received a Business License application for a marijuana dispensary, staff interpreted a dispensary as a retail store, which allows the sale of “things” and does not distinguish the legalities of the “things” being sold. Enforcing the legality of the “things” being sold typically falls under the jurisdiction of the RCMP.

Will the upcoming legalization of non-medicinal cannabis change the Town’s approach to regulating cannabis stores?

Yes. Staff has recommended to Council that current zoning bylaws be amended to prohibit cannabis stores in all zones. Instead, owners of cannabis dispensaries may apply for a Temporary Use Permit (TUP), or site-specific rezoning. These applications would then be reviewed by Council on a case-by-case basis.

What is a Temporary Use Permit (TUP)?

A TUP may allow a use not permitted under zoning, specify conditions for the temporary use and allow and regulate the construction of buildings/structures related to the temporary use. Council may authorize a TUP for up to a three-year term, which may be renewed once before a new permit is required. Newspaper notification is a legislated requirement before a TUP may be issued, thus providing an opportunity for public input prior to Council decision.

Why has the amendment to the zoning bylaw been recommended?

Without this change to the zoning bylaw, there is a risk that cannabis stores would open all over Gibsons and that Council would have little, or possibly no, authority to close them down once established.

Requiring cannabis dispensaries to apply for a TUP enables Council to assess the compatibility of a dispensary in an area, before permanently committing to allow the use by rezoning the site.

What is the timeline for this bylaw amendment?

On September 18, 2018, the amended zoning bylaw was given its first and second readings.

On October 2, 2018, the amended zoning bylaw was given a Public Hearing. In response, Council directed Staff to bring forward a report at the October 16, 2018 Council meeting that addresses the implications of removing the reference to provincial licensing in the definition of “Cannabis store” in “Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 1065-46,2018” and that provides clarification on the implications if the Town were to withhold a business license under the current zoning.

Additionally, “Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 1065-46,2018” was forwarded to the October 16, 2018 Council meeting for third reading and adoption.

On October 16, 2018, it is anticipated that the amended zoning bylaw will be given its third reading and be adopted.

How does this bylaw amendment affect the existing cannabis dispensaries?

Existing dispensaries have been encouraged to apply for a TUP. Applying for a TUP enables them to demonstrate the compatibility of their business within a given area. This may, in turn, provide support for a rezoning application in future.

The Town has received Temporary Use Permit applications from the Healing Hut (see this Staff Report for more information) and the Rainforest Compassion Club (see this Staff Report more information.)

What is the role of the Federal Government in the legalization of non-medical cannabis?

On October 17, 2018, the Federal government will legalize non-medical cannabis with Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act. The Act is intended to create a legal framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis across Canada.

What is the role of the Provincial Government?

In light of the new Cannabis Act, the Province of BC has established a legislative framework for the legalization of non-medical cannabis with the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (CCLA) and the Cannabis Distribution Act (CDA). The CCLA sets key regulations around cannabis, such as the minimum age to purchase, sell, or consume cannabis (19 years), how much cannabis adults may possess in a public place (30 grams) and where cannabis smoking and vaping are prohibited (everywhere tobacco smoking and vaping are prohibited, as well as at common places children gather.)

The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB), will license and monitor the retail sale of non-medical cannabis in BC.

What is the role of the Town of Gibsons?

The Town of Gibsons will have a role in responding to Federal and Provincial cannabis production, distribution, and sale referrals. It will also play a major role in Licensing Non-Medical Cannabis Retail Stores, including determining appropriate locations for cannabis retail stores within Town boundaries. In fact, the LCRB will not issue a licence unless the Town provides a positive recommendation that the licence be issued.

What will the application process be for a non-medicinal cannabis retail licence, after October 18, 2018?

In brief, applying for a non-medicinal cannabis retail licence will be a four-step process.

  1. Applicants submit licence application to LCRB.
  2. LCRB notifies local government that an application has been received.
  3. Local government may then:
    1. Choose not to make any recommendation, which would effectively end the licence application, or
    2. Choose to make comments, either denying or recommending the application.
  4. Licence is issued or denied by the LCRB.

If the local government chooses not to make any recommendation, or makes a recommendation to deny the application, the LCRB may not issue the licence. If the local government recommends the application, then the LCRB must consider the recommendation, but has discretion over whether or not to issue the licence.

Will residents have a chance to comment during the retailer licensing process?

Yes. If the Town decides to consider an application for a non-medical cannabis retail store, it must gather the views of residents of the proposed retail area by using one or more of the following methods:

  • Receiving written comment in response to public notice of the application
  • Conducting a public hearing in respect of the application
  • Holding a referendum, or
  • Using another method the Town considers appropriate
How much will it cost to apply for a license to operate a cannabis dispensary?

The Province collects a $7,500 application fee for a cannabis retail store and an annual license fee of $1,500.

Additionally, in the Town of Gibsons a business licence for retail use costs $160 for up to 1000 ft2 and an additional $8 for each additional 100 ft2. A TUP application costs $1,000 and a renewal fee is $750. A rezoning application costs between $1,000 – $10,000, depending on the scale of the application. A referral from the LCRB costs $1,000.