With recreational marijuana expected to be legalized by July 2018, the Village of Burns Lake is taking steps to allow marijuana production facilities in the village’s heavy industrial zones.
READ MORE: Marijuana rules will be ‘a work in progress’
In order to allow for their development, the village’s Official Community Plan (OCP) and zoning bylaws must be amended.
“Medical marijuana is currently allowed [for consumption], you can purchase a license for it, we just don’t accept that medical marijuana can be produced within village boundaries,” explained Sheryl Worthing, Chief Administrative Officer for the Village of Burns Lake.
“Right now the recommendation is just to add medical marijuana [to OCP and zoning bylaws] and not have any language around recreational use until we see what the actual legislation is going to look like,” she added.
Council has directed staff to bring back for first and second reading an amendment to the OCP bylaw 970, 2017 and the zoning bylaw 880, 2008. That’s just the first step before these bylaws can be amended.
The next step will be a consultation in the form of written letters requesting feedback on the proposed amendment to the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako Area B, Lake Babine Nation, Burns Lake Band, School District 91 (Nechako Lakes) and the RCMP.
“This [amendment] is a long process,” explained Worthing. “The third part of that is when we’re doing a zoning amendment, and for that, a public hearing is required.”
The public hearing has been set for March 20, 2018 in the village chamber at 7 p.m. The public hearing is an opportunity for input by community members who believe that their interest in property is affected by the proposed amendment.
After the public hearing, council will be able to adopt the amended bylaw.
According to a village staff report, the federal government has indicated that it will respect local government zoning when determining whether to issue production licenses. In order for the village to regulate medicinal marijuana production operations, zoning regulations must be enacted promptly, as licenses are already being issued.
Manufacturers will have to apply to Health Canada for a production license. The applicant has to provide information that allows Health Canada to assess whether the applicant has certain key measures in place.
Under the new regulations, production will take place indoors by large scale commercial producers. The product will be shipped to users directly from the producer, acquired from pharmacies or provided by authorized care practitioners or hospitals.