On Oct. 17, 2018, the province of Ontario legalized the regulated sale of recreational use cannabis by private, licensed retailers. Since then, however, different regions and municipalities have been working through their own legalities to regulate the cultivation and production of cannabis.
When it comes to recreational use, municipalities follow the legal guidelines as outlined by the federal government: You must be 19 or older to purchase cannabis or related products; you can legally possess up to 150 grams of cannabis products in varying forms; and all Canadians are limited to four cannabis plants per household. Also, distributing cannabis products to anyone under the age of 18 or driving while under the influence are both strictly prohibited.
Different municipalities have different breakdowns for cultivation, production and processing practices that can vary per city or town. Here’s the latest breakdown for the Niagara region.
In June 2019, the City of Niagara Falls passed an interim control bylaw (ICB) that prohibited the production, processing or cultivation of cannabis and was set to expire on June 22, 2020, but in June it was extended to September 2020, then later it was extended for another year.
As a result, final regulations have yet to be passed later this year.
In 2019, the Township of West Lincoln passed a bylaw that permitted the production of cannabis under specific regulations. This bylaw from West Lincoln comes as an amendment to a 2017 bylaw that initially only had regulations exclusively for medical marijuana growing facilities.
Lincoln passed an interim control bylaw that was lifted in 2020 when a zoning bylaw was passed, along with an official plan, however a licensing system is still in the works. In April 2021 the town passed a nuisance bylaw after concern from residents about already existing cannabis facilities.
Much like with the other municipalities, Niagara on-the-Lake initially passed an ICB in 2019 to allow time for a review and the time was extended into 2020. On July 15, 2020 council passed a zoning bylaw, allowing cannabis production facilities to operate under specific circumstances.
The Town of Pelham had enacted an ICB two days before the federal legalization of cannabis. This ICB was extended into 2019, then again into 2020. In July 2020, the town passed an official zoning plan, indicating the proper regulation required for cannabis production.
Like other municipalities, Port Colborne also enacted an ICB that saw the freeze of marijuana production to figure out regulation of production and processing. After a 2019 extension on the initial ICB, in January of 2020, the city implemented new bylaws that included an allowance for outdoor growing.
Welland council waited over a year after legalization before enacting an ICB. Originally enacted in December of 2019 for one year, the city voted in favour of another year-long freeze in December 2020.