Regulations will force cannabis businesses away from residential areas

Published Sep 2, 2020 11:00 a.m. ET
iStock / JD and Kyle Shoot Stock

The wheels are in motion in some municipalities across the province of Ontario to put into place rules and regulations that will restrict the areas that cannabis producers can use to set up shop. Up until now, most areas have left the cannabis industry to rein free from location oversight, but some people are beginning to complain about the presence of these kinds of businesses, and that seems to be sparking a push for more restrictive rules and bylaws that could keep them out of the residential entirely.

Old bylaws do not account for cannabis producers

The cannabis industry is incredibly young and without the experience and foresight that we now have, politicians weren’t entirely sure how they should be involved in the process. Some municipalities chose to ban cannabis businesses entirely, but until now, none have come up with a complex or well thought out plan that reflects the needs of the residents who live in residential neighborhoods.

Councillors of Brant County are looking to settle on an approach that clearly shows appreciation for economic opportunities while also protecting residents and sensitive lands from being destroyed. There are several established cannabis producers already in the area, and only three of them are operational, but city leaders fear that further development without borders could quickly result in a rise of complaints from residents who are bothered by the smell.

The trouble with medical marijuana card exemptions

Other municipalities are currently considering their own boundaries for similar reasons, but Brant County is the only one that is looking to ban medical marijuana growers from pooling their resources and cultivating multiple plants in one location. This size of marijuana plant growth is not very big, but they can still produce a lot of smell, which seems to be the main concern from everyone who has voiced a need for stricter regulations. Though it is unclear what the new bylaws will be, it looks like the approved rules will apply to small groups of growers as well.

What new bylaws might look like

Most municipalities have basic bylaws that prohibit cannabis stores or producers from moving in too close to a school, park, or residential neighborhood, and the majority enforces a 150-200 meter rule, but residents and city officials realize that some people aren't very happy with this, which means that change is necessary. Just how far outside of residential neighbourhoods cannabis producers will have to be, will ultimately depend on the region, but right now, Brant County, along with a few others, have decided to settle for no less than at least 400 meters away from residential neighbourhoods.

Is this a bad thing?

No one can deny that the presence of a single marijuana plant can be noticed due to the smell alone, so when businesses start producing a bunch in one location, it is likely to interfere with at least a few neighbours if there aren’t some sort of rules enforced so this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It forces cannabis producers to flourish outside of areas where the smell may be a nuisance, while still allowing them a place to call home.

The cannabis industry is flourishing, and as it grows, we will see many more producers sprout up across the country, so working on early intervention of potential problems could be the key necessary for a smooth and resistance-free roll out. In the end, everyone can be happy, and that’s certainly not a bad thing. However, many dispute the choice to include medical marijuana cardholders, as it may be their only affordable option. Still, there is plenty of room to make changes and evolve to accommodate everyone as much as possible, and this is a great place for the process to start.

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