The city of Kelowna, like several others, is making legislative preparations in advance of nation-wide legalization that everyone is expecting to unfold. According to Melanie Stepphun, a land use planner for Kelowna, the Ministry of Agriculture recently made an important clarification. The Ministry says that medical cannabis production facilities are classified as farms, when they are licensed by Health Canada.

A bylaw guide has been prepared so that the local government can implement it if they feel that it is necessary. This guide is flexible because while it does give guidelines for very strict regulations, they are mostly optional which will give the city the choice as to how much of the guide to follow.

Stepphun explains that, “These are guidelines; they’re not in bylaw currently. What the Ministry of Agriculture is saying to local governments is, ‘If you would like to put these regulations into your bylaw, this is as stringent as you can get.’”

Issues such as distance from schools and parks, the need for a waste water treatment plant if the facility is large enough, site parameters and setbacks, and a required business license are some of the details laid out in the bylaw guide. Cities will be able to pick and choose which regulations laid out by the ministry are most important to them.

Kelowna currently has no new bylaws chosen yet, but this will likely change as planning goes on throughout the year. By the end of the year, text amendments will be added into the bylaw which will then make them official.

Right now the city of Kelowna doesn’t have any cannabis businesses which hold a Health Canada license, and this is a prerequisite for any business that will be subject to the bylaws. According to Stephun, “That precedes all of this in terms of operators’ intentions to build a medical marijuana facility. They need to start with the federal government; they need to start with their Health Canada licence.”

Kelowna is not the only city that is getting ready for national legalization, as we have covered Belleville is also going through a similar situation. Expect other cities to make legislative moves in order to be fully prepared for cannabis legalization.