RDN dealing with high interest in backyard cannabis production

New policy proposed to address challenges with Health Canada licences

The Regional District of Nanaimo has been receiving questions from people interested in producing cannabis in their own backyard.

RDN planner Nick Redpath, in his report to the Electoral Area Services Committee, stated that since cannabis became legal, the rules have become less onerous leading to people wanting to produce cannabis on a small scale on properties not zoned for this purpose.

A new licensing regime set by Health Canada distinguishes between the different aspects of cannabis cultivation, processing, analytical testing and research. These licence classes are broken down into sub-classes including standard cultivation, micro-cultivation, nursery, standard processing and micro-processing.

The current RDN definition of cannabis production encompasses all aspects of the production of cannabis but does not differentiate between the new Health Canada licensing classes and subclasses.

Redpath reported these new licence classes have made it possible for smaller-scale cannabis production operations on smaller lots with less stringent financial and security requirements. For instance, a small craft cultivation cannot exceed 200 square metres, while a nursery licence can only be done on maximum surface area of 50 square metres.

Measures are already in place to deal with applications for cannabis production on Agricultural Land Reserve but most of the enquiries the RDN has received according to Redpath are focused on rural residential areas, where interested parties plan to attain micro licenses to produce cannabis in their backyards.

Redpath indicated it would be challenging to deal with an entirely new cannabis production zone, as it may lead to undesired impacts to neighbouring properties and the community in general.

Staff recommended the board adopt a policy to provide consistent and clear approach in the review of zoning amendment and TUP applications, to allow cannabis production on land not currently zoned for the purpose.

The policy will be geared towards assisting applicants when completing land use applications for cannabis production and to establish a framework for RDN staff and elected officials for reviewing these applications.

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