Those wishing to sell or open commercial marijuana operations in the Cowichan Valley Regional District now have updated policies to work with.
The CVRD has recently approved two new policies that establish criteria for when the board considers cannabis-related business applications in its nine electoral areas.
The Cannabis Retail Store Policy and Cannabis Production Land Use Application Policy will also help guide local entrepreneurs looking to submit and advance applications for the quickly growing industry in the CVRD.
“With these two policies in place, we can provide clarity to those wishing to produce or sell cannabis in the Cowichan Valley as to how it can be done in a permissible manner,” said Ian Morrison, chairman of the CVRD.
“This is an exciting economic opportunity for many residents and we look forward to working with applicants to meet community need and capitalize on this new business reality.”
In the coming months, the CVRD will be considering zoning bylaw amendments to permit the sale of marijuana in areas zoned for retail use.
The retail store policy applies to provincial licences for the sale of recreational pot, and stipulates that a cannabis retail store must be at least 300 metres from schools, parks, community centres and other cannabis retail stores, and prohibits retail cannabis sales in residential buildings and areas.
Among other requirements, all applicants for retail stores will also have to arrange and conduct an information meeting for residents and property owners within 300 meters of the proposed store.
The Municipality of North Cowichan has adopted similar criteria when considering retail pot stores in its jurisdiction.
Like other communities, cannabis retail licence applications must be submitted to the BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch before they will be reviewed by the CVRD.
The LCRB will only issue licences for cannabis retail stores within the CVRD that have the support of the board.
Mike Tippett, the CVRD’s manager of community planning, said the district currently has up to eight applications to open retail marijuana stores within its jurisdiction that are in process.
He said that while the Cowichan Valley Access Centre marijuana dispensary on Allenby Road, which is already in an area that the CVRD has zoned as appropriate for a marijuana dispensary, had been given the green light to open from the CVRD last February, it is still waiting for final approval from the province.
“We thought the Cowichan Valley Access Centre was going to receive its licence from the province months ago, but it hasn’t,” Tippett said.
“We sent an email to the licensing branch asking about the application but we received no feedback. It appears that the province is continuing to do its due diligence on the application.”
The CVRD’s new Cannabis Production Land Use Application Policy applies to federal licences for cultivation, processing, sale for medical purposes and analytical testing and research.
Seven of nine CVRD electoral areas have zones where cannabis production is already permitted, and the policy applies only to rezoning applications to permit a federally-licensed cannabis facility.
Tippett said the CVRD currently has two applications for marijuana grow operations, with both located near Laketown Ranch on the Youbou Highway.