Federal legalization of recreational cannabis planned for October 2018
The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) has adopted a zoning amendment bylaw to authorize home cultivation of recreational cannabis, in anticipation of federal legalization of recreational cannabis this fall.
On June 20 the federal government passed the Cannabis Act, and the bill is currently awaiting Royal Assent. Once the Cannabis Act comes into force, the Cannabis Act and the provincial Cannabis Control and Licensing Act, respectively, will permit home cultivation of recreational cannabis of up to four plants either indoors or outdoors, and Whistler’s zoning amendment bylaw will match this.
Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden explains that Whistler’s zoning amendment bylaw will not take effect until both these pieces of legislation are in force, and it will have no effect on home medical cultivation (which is currently permitted under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulation (ACMPR).
She said, “I commend staff for leading this proactive zoning update. By doing so, we are providing advance notice to residents, strata corporations, tenants, property owners and landlords about the RMOW rules that will be in place when home cultivation becomes legal under federal and provincial law. I encourage everyone to research their rights and responsibilities, and, particularly, strata corporations and landlords to consider enacting their own rules where necessary to meet their specific needs.”
Community members are reminded that growing recreational cannabis at home before federal legalization or contrary to federal, provincial, landlord or strata rules risks serious consequences, including criminal prosecution, fines and eviction.
Home cultivation of recreational cannabis
The provincial Cannabis Control and Licensing Act will permit indoor or outdoor cultivation of four plants per household. Plants must not be visible from public spaces off the property, and cultivation is prohibited in homes used as daycares.
Strata corporations and councils
With the help of their own legal counsel, strata corporations can enact their own bylaws prohibiting or restricting recreational cannabis cultivation or smoking in strata lots or on common property. Strata corporations also have the power to impose fines and other penalties on strata lot owners, who do not comply with strata bylaws.
Landlords in BC can prohibit home cultivation. Landlords can also allow home cultivation or allow it under certain restrictions (e.g. by allowing only outdoor cultivation of one plant). An amendment to the Residential Tenancy Act automatically prohibits home recreational cannabis cultivation in tenancies entered into before the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act came into force. Landlords should contact the Residential Tenancy Branch for more information on their rights related to home cannabis cultivation.
Owners of strata property are required to comply with any strata bylaws related to home cultivation, and property owners who rent homes are subject to the rights and rules of the Residential Tenancy Act noted above. Generally speaking, property owners can prohibit home cultivation on their property. Homeowners wishing to grow cannabis on their property should consult provincial and federal legislation and any applicable strata bylaws.
Other provincial laws and regulations
Other provincial laws and regulation that indirectly apply to home cultivation will remain in effect and unaltered by the legalization of home cultivation. These include child protection laws, provincial health and safety codes.
The municipality will continue to enforce safety codes that fall within its mandate (e.g. the BC Building Code) and will continue to advise other regulatory authorities, if it observes contraventions of other health and safety codes (e.g. notifying the BC Safety Authority of suspect lighting installations).