CSRD adopts cannabis policy

CSRD adopts cannabis policy

The policy says cannabis businesses will not be supported on Agricultural Land Reserve land

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District board of directors voted to adopt a cannabis business policy that will give the regional district a framework on how to deal with applications to open cannabis-related businesses.

The issue of cannabis businesses is especially important because the federal government passed a law legalizing cannabis which will come into effect on Oct. 17.

The policy will allow CSRD development services to charge fees for cannabis-related business applications.

Specific criteria for the locations of Cannabis retail facilities are contained in the policy. It says that where land-use zoning exists, the retail facilities will only be permitted in commercial zones and will not be allowed within 300 metres of daycares, health-care facilities, libraries, parks, playgrounds, schools or cannabis-related businesses. It also says cannabis businesses will not be supported on Agricultural Land Reserve land.

The policy does not place a cap on the number of cannabis-related businesses in a particular neighbourhood, community or electoral area.

The policy states that the CSRD will gather public feedback on applications to open a cannabis business in accordance with applicable federal and provincial legislation.

CSRD planner Jan Thingsted said the regional district and other local governments will have a fair amount of power on deciding whether a provincially issued licence to operate a cannabis retail store is approved. He said provincial staff have assured him that any applications referred to the CSRD that they do not receive a response from will not be issued. He added this will be important for regulating the sale of cannabis in the regional district’s rural areas that do not have zoning in place.

Public feedback on the policy was received during a comment period which was open on the CSRD’s website from May 3 to June 5. A total of 15 responses were received. Responses stated that cannabis should be treated no differently than cigarettes or alcohol. Other respondents mentioned concerns about the smell of cannabis both when smoked and when stored in a retail facility.

Some of the respondents mentioned tourism opportunities which could be created by cannabis production and sales.

“I live in Tappen. I believe that the Shuswap could be one of the finest environments to grow cannabis….like wine and winemakers draw tourists and money to the local economies in the Okanagan…the Shuswap could benefit on a worldwide scale for quality cannabis,” one response reads.

Salmon Arm City Councillor and CSRD director Kevin Flynn expressed a desire to see greater sharing of cannabis policies between the CSRD and its member municipalities before anything is implemented so that jurisdictions do not contradict or undermine each other.

CSRD chief administrative officer Charles Hamilton recommended the board move forward with adopting the policy and noted that it remains flexible and can be harmonized with the regulations put in place by member municipalities and neighbouring jurisdictions over time.