Pubdate: Mon, 14 Aug 2017
Source: Metro (Halifax, CN NS)
Copyright: 2017 Metro Canada
Author: Zane Woodford
Page: 5


Staff suggest HRM consider how to handle legalization

Halifax is starting to think about how legal marijuana will roll out
in the municipality.

In a staff report coming to regional council's meeting on Tuesday,
staff recommend starting the process to consider amending land-use
bylaws to determine the best places for marijuana-production
facilities and dispensaries in the municipality ahead of next summer's
promised legalization.

The federal government introduced legislation to legalize marijuana
this spring. The bill passed first and second reading, and was
referred to committee for further debate. The government intends to
bring the law into effect no later than July 2018.

The bill puts much of the decision-making power around the sale of
marijuana in the provinces' hands, and Nova Scotia has been
tight-lipped about its plans.

The province said it will wait till the government passes the law
before determining how it will be sold in the province, but it has set
up an interdepartmental working group looking into marijuana policy.

Municipal staff have presented three options to regional council:
follow the province's lead and wait for the bill to pass before
considering changes; prepare policies around commercial marijuana
production facilities; or prepare policies and regulations for both
production and marijuana dispensaries.

Staff recommends the third option.

Currently, commercial marijuana production facilities for medical
marijuana are legal in Halifax. While there are no licensed producers
in the province, the municipality has already issued two permits for
production facilities in industrial areas.

What staff would like to review is exactly where they should be

"While such production facilities are appropriate in many industrial
zones, they may not be appropriate in mixed use zones that also permit
residential uses," HRM principal planner Ben Sivak writes in the report.

And even though they've spouted up across the municipality,
dispensaries are currently illegal in all forms. The staff report says
the only municipalities in the country with policies around
dispensaries are in Western Canada, where the storefronts are much
more common.

The municipality could have a role in regulating dispensaries if the
province decides to allow storefront sales. On the other hand, the
province could decide to set up a Nova Scotia Liquor Commission-type
system for marijuana, leaving the municipality with no role at all.

Municipal staff want to start considering how it would regulate
dispensaries while keeping an eye on the province.

"Staff will initiate a policy review of cannabis dispensaries, and
define any interim measures that could come into place while the
Provincial government is working on the broader legislative framework
for Nova Scotia," Sivak writes.

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Here are staff's three suggestions to consider regarding legalized

- - Follow the province's lead and wait for the bill to pass before
considering changes.

- - Prepare policies around commercial marijuana production

- - Prepare policies and regulations for both production and marijuana
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MAP posted-by: Matt