Operation of a storefront cannabis retail business is contrary to federal law. Any rezoning or business licensing approval provided by the City of Victoria does not preclude law enforcement officials from proceeding with enforcement action, including prosecution.
The City of Victoria has implemented regulations for cannabis businesses, to reduce the community impacts of these businesses.
The City’s regulations are for businesses selling cannabis. They do not legalize or permit the sale of cannabis; this is the jurisdiction of the Federal Government.
There are three categories of cannabis businesses in Victoria:
- Storefront Cannabis Retail: A retail business where cannabis is sold or provided to a person who attends the premises.
- Cannabis-Related (Cannabis Onsite): A business where cannabis is: promoted, advocated, paraphernalia used in the consumption of cannabis is sold or provided, and cannabis is stored onsite.
- Cannabis-Related (No Cannabis Onsite): A business where cannabis is promoted, advocated, and/or where paraphernalia used in the consumption of cannabis is sold or provided.
Cannabis Business Licence Application Process
All cannabis businesses must obtain a Cannabis Business Licence, and follow the regulations set out in the Cannabis-Related Business Licence Bylaw (see below). In addition, storefront cannabis retailers must be zoned for this use.
Find a quick reference guide in the Cannabis Business Fact Sheet [PDF – 64 KB]. For further information, please review the details of each requirement below.
All storefront cannabis retailers must be zoned for this use.
- Review the requirements in the Storefront Cannabis Retailer Rezoning Application.pdf [PDF – 170 KB]
- City staff are available for a pre-application meeting to discuss the rezoning process
- An appointment is required to submit a rezoning application, and only complete applications will be accepted
- The rezoning process typically takes six to eight months from submission, and may require more time
- The fee for a Cannabis Business Rezoning Application is $7,500
The City began accepting complete Cannabis Business Rezoning Applications on September 23, 2016. For more information please contact Development Services at 250.361.0382, in person at the Development Centre in City Hall, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Important: Storefront cannabis retailers that began operation after July 28, 2016must comply with the new regulations immediately, meaning these businesses cannot operate until their rezoning application has been approved by City Council.
Storefront cannabis retailers that were in operation prior to July 28, 2016 may continue to operate while making progress towards a rezoning, however they must comply with operational requirements immediately.
All cannabis businesses must obtain a Cannabis Business Licence.
- Review the requirements in the Cannabis Business Licence Application [PDF – 83 KB]
- Cannabis Business Licences will not be approved until the Rezoning Application is approved
- Criminal record checks in the form of Canadian Police Information Checks (CPIC) can be obtained through the Commissionaires
- The Business Licence fee is $5,000 for all businesses with cannabis onsite; for those with no cannabis onsite it is $500
The City began accepting complete Business Licence Applications for cannabis-related businesses on September 23, 2016. For more information please contact Business Licensing in person at the Development Centre in City Hall or at email@example.com.
All cannabis businesses must follow operational requirements for security, health and safety.
All cannabis-related businesses must not:
- allow individuals under the age of 19 on the premises
- allow consumption of cannabis on the premises
- advertise, other than minimal storefront signage which can include a maximum of two signs with letters or numbers only
- be open for business between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Storefront cannabis retailers and cannabis-related businesses with cannabis onsite must, in addition to the above:
- install and maintain an air filtration system to ensure odour impacts on neighbouring properties are minimized
- submit the following as part of their business licence application:
- a security plan
- police information checks for the applicant and every on-site manager
- proof of a security alarm contract
- proof of ownership or legal possession of the premises, including written consent of the landlord if the premises are leased
- implement the following security measures
- video surveillance cameras must be installed and monitored
- a security and fire alarm system must be installed and monitored at all times, and
- valuables must be removed from the business premises or locked in a safe on the business premises at all times when the business is not in operation
Storefront cannabis retailers must, in addition to the above:
- post health and safety warning signs on the premises
- ensure the premises is only used for the sale of medical cannabis and accessory uses. Only one business licence will be issued per location, which restricts the use of ATMs and vending machines on the premises, as each of these requires their own business licence
- implement the following measures to deter criminal activity while the business is open to the public:
- at least two employees must be on duty, one of whom is a manager, and
- windows must not be blocked
- Storefront Cannabis Retailer Rezoning Application.pdf [PDF – 170 KB]
- Zoning Regulation Bylaw
- Zoning Regulation Bylaw, Amendment Bylaw (No. 1070) [PDF – 8 KB]– to define “storefront cannabis retailer” as a use and to restrict the location of this use”
- Storefront Cannabis Retailer Rezoning Policy [PDF – 25 KB]
- Cannabis Business Licence Application [PDF – 83 KB]
- Cannabis-Related Business Regulation Bylaw [PDF – 19 KB]
About Medical Cannabis
Medical marijuana is regulated by Health Canada. Under current regulations medical cannabis can be prescribed and then ordered from a licensed producer. Mail order is the only approved way to purchase medical cannabis. Although some storefront retailers are currently selling cannabis, none have a Health Canada licence that permits this. The federal government has indicated that they will be exploring options to legalize marijuana and have announced their intention to introduce legislation next spring.
Over the course of the last year, there has been a significant increase in the number of cannabis-related businesses operating in the City of Victoria. It is estimated there are currently at least 38 cannabis-related businesses in Victoria, with approximately 35 of these operating as storefront cannabis retailers.
In the fall of 2015, community concerns and benefits relating to the storefront sale of medical marijuana were identified. Over 80% of survey respondents seemed generally supportive of moving towards the regulation of medical marijuana-related businesses. The full engagement summary is available here: Medical Marijuana Engagement Summary Report [PDF – 7.9 MB]
A second phase of engagement in the winter of 2015 collected broad community feedback on proposed regulations relating to the operation of medical marijuana-related businesses in Victoria. The feedback heard in the last phase of engagement, including a Town Hall and online survey, can be found here: Medical Marijuana Phase Two Engagement Feedback [PDF – 20.4 MB]
Based on the feedback heard from the community, staff presented a report with proposed regulations to Council. The staff report can be found in the meeting agenda here (agenda item 5).
On July 28, 2016, staff presented several bylaws to Council that would regulate the business licence and land use aspects of marijuana-related businesses. The meeting webcast and the staff report can be viewed here (item 5.) Public consultation over the past year has informed many of the regulations.
Additional feedback on the proposed regulations for businesses, particularly relating to the restriction of advertising, was recently collected and the results were presented to Council at their September 8 meeting. The community was also invited to speak at the Public Hearing on the proposed Zoning Regulation Bylaw Amendments, on September 8, 2016.