Cannabis Regulation

Cannabis Legalization in Your Community: A Primer for Local Governments

UBCM has developed a broad guide examining local areas of responsibility, and other aspects of the non-medical cannabis regime that will impact local governments. The primer also includes a list of resources and provincial contacts.

2018-10-17 Cannabis Legalization in Your Community.pdf [PDF - 199 KB]

Cannabis Excise Tax Revenue Sharing

A two-year Federal-Provincial-Territorial Agreement on Cannabis Taxation sees the federal government retain 25% of excise tax revenue (up to a maximum of $100 million per year), with the remaining 75% (or more) going to provinces and territories. The federal government will not directly provide local governments a share of the excise tax revenue, leaving that responsibility to provinces and territories. As of November 2018, only Alberta, Ontario and Quebec have committed to cannabis taxation revenue sharing with local governments.

UBCM has adopted a principled approach to guide its negotiation of a cannabis excise tax revenue sharing agreement with the provincial government:

1. Cannabis legalization should not result in additional local government funding by property taxpayers;
2. Local governments should be reimbursed for costs associated with the implementation of legalized cannabis;
3. Local governments should be reimbursed for any additional policing costs resulting from cannabis legislation;
4. Remaining excise tax revenue (after taking out expenses incurred as part of principles 1-3, and the federal share) should be shared between the Province of British Columbia and local governments.

On September 13, 2018, the UBCM membership endorsed Special Resolution 1 (SR1): Cannabis Excise Tax Revenue Sharing with Local Governments. Admitted for debate by the UBCM Executive, this resolution seeks to advance a short- and long-term strategy to guide the negotiation of a provincial-local government cannabis excise tax revenue sharing agreement. These strategies are based on the principled approached, as well as the findings from a study contracted by UBCM.

The short-term strategy intends to adopt a revenue sharing framework that would entail the provincial government providing local governments with 40% ($50 million) of the projected provincial cannabis excise tax revenue ($125 million) over the first two years of legalization. Any revenue in excess of the $125 million provincial projection would be shared 50-50 between the Province and BC local governments. Excise tax revenue would be distributed to BC local governments on a per capita basis, with all municipalities and regional districts receiving a minimum of $10,000 regardless of population.

The long-term strategy seeks to develop an agreement that explores the following options:

  • Continue with the framework used in the first two years, particularly if projected costs and revenues are within a reasonable variance from the original projection; or,
  • Determine the potential to increase the provincial sales tax on cannabis from 7% to not more than 10% with a commitment of this portion to local governments in place of excise sales tax revenue sharing.

During the Convention, UBCM President Wendy Booth met with Minister of Finance Carole James to discuss the short- and long-term strategy. UBCM and the Province also agreed to continue discussions around excise tax revenue sharing.

The Province of British Columbia expects to receive $125 million in cannabis excise tax revenue over the first two years of legalization. The Liquor Distribution Branch recently announced that a 15% mark-up will be applied to the landed price of cannabis, in addition to the federal excise tax.

2018 UBCM Convention - Cannabis Presentations

Among the sessions taking place at the 2018 Convention was Cannabis Legalization: A Joint Venture, which included a number of local and provincial speakers. Their presentations are listed below:

Cannabis Production on the ALR

In July 2018, the provincial government amended the Agricultural Land Reserve Use, Subdivision and Procedure Regulation in order to designate the specific means of lawful cannabis production that are considered farm use in the ALR.

In section 2(2.5), the amendment identifies cannabis production as a farm use only in the cases that production is:

  • Outside in a field ;
  • In a structure with a base made entirely of soil ;
  • In a pre­existing structure, or a structure that is under construction, provided that the structure was, or is being, constructed for growing crops inside.

As local governments cannot prohibit activities identified as a farm use (except under section 552 of the Local Government Act), the amendment allows for the types of cannabis production identified in section 2(2.5) to proceed anywhere in the ALR without application to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC).

However, the amendment also has the effect of identifying all forms of cannabis production that are not identified above (i.e. new construction of cement­based buildings) as non­farm use – which allows local governments to prohibit or regulate this use and requires ALR land owners to make applications to the ALC for non­farm use. 

Prior to July 2018, local governments were not permitted to prohibit medical cannabis production on the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). The UBCM Executive, at its May 18, 2018 meeting, agreed to support a moratorium on the production of non-medical cannabis on ALR land until the provincial government undertakes a comprehensive review and broad consultation with local governments. This was communicated to Minister Doug Donaldson, who also agreed to meet with UBCM on June 26, 2018. UBCM representatives also communicated UBCM's position to the Metro Vancouver Regional District Mayors Committee as part of a July 6, 2018 presentation.

Legalization of Non-Medical Cannabis

Joint Provincial-Local Government Committee on Cannabis Regulation
UBCM and the provincial government have established the Joint Provincial-Local Government Committee on Cannabis Regulation (JCCR), a forum for local governments to share their experiences and knowledge and discuss issues of interest or concern with the Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Secretariat. The JCCR webpage includes all Committee reports, the Terms of Reference, and other pertinent documents. 

Federal Background Information

The federal government, in April 2017, introduced cannabis legalization and enforcement legislation, Bills C-45 (the Cannabis Act) and C-46 (amends the Criminal Code). Legislation places the federal government in charge of production, health and safety standards, and criminal prohibitions, as well as establishing minimum conditions that provincial legislation must meet to ensure consistency. The Cannabis Act came into force on October 17, 2018.

Provincial Background Information

The Province of British Columbia has enacted its own legislation for the legalization and regulation of non-medical cannabis, in the form of two new bills and key amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act. The Cannabis Distribution Act establishes the Province’s exclusive jurisdiction over the wholesale distribution of non-medical cannabis, and provides authority for public retail and online sales. The Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (CCLA) establishes provincial control over the sale, supply and possession of non-medical cannabis, and establishes licensing of private retailers. The CCLA also outlines restrictions over the possession, personal cultivation and public consumption of cannabis. A Community Safety Unit will have the authority to deal with illegal sales outside the legalized framework. Under the CCLA, the Community Safety Unit will have the authority to enter illegal cannabis premises without a warrant, seize illegal product and records, and impose monetary fines. Changes to the Motor Vehicle Act will allow for a 90-day Administrative Driving Prohibition to be placed on drug-affected drivers, as well as impose a zero tolerance policy for the presence of THC for drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program.

UBCM Resolutions
In 2017, UBCM members endorsed Special Resolution SR1:

Therefore be it resolved that the UBCM membership endorse the following principles to guide UBCM’s advocacy with the provincial government regarding local government’s role in a BC framework for cannabis:

  • fulsome and meaningful provincial consultation with local governments;
  • provision of adequate provincial funding to cover any responsibilities and increase in administrative burden of any provincial framework that requires local government participation;
  • equitable sharing of tax revenues from cannabis between all orders of government; and
  • respect for local choice, jurisdiction and authority, including but not limited to land use and zoning decisions.

Additionally, in 2016, BC local governments endorsed two resolutions [PDF - 32 KB] directly related to the federal government’s plan to legalize cannabis.

For information regarding 2018-SR1, please see "Cannabis Excise Tax Revenue Sharing" (above).

Medical Cannabis

Released in 2013, the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulation (MMPR) took effect on April 1, 2014. The regulatory framework administered by Health Canada ended the practice of individuals growing medical marijuana in private dwellings by creating a licensing system for a limited number of third parties to produce and distribute medical marijuana.

Originally, only dried marijuana was to be produced, sold and possessed. This regulation was changed in June 2015, after the Supreme Court ruled that this restriction violated the right to liberty and security in a manner contrary to the principles of fundamental justice. This ruling game medical patients the right to access and produce other cannabis products. In February 2016, a federal judge struck down the federal regulations that had prohibited patients from growing their own medical cannabis. As a result of this ruling, the new Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) were introduced on August 24, 2016, thus replacing the MMPR.


UBCM to Minister Carole James re: Cannabis Excise Tax Revenue Sharing [PDF - 77 KB] - Aug 2018
UBCM to Minister Carole James re: Cannabis Excise Tax Revenue Sharing [PDF - 76 KB] - June 2018
UBCM to Minister Doug Donaldson re: Cannabis Production on ALR Land [PDF - 93 KB] - May 2018
BC Minister of Public Safety & Solicitor General to UBCM re: Legalization of Marijuana [PDF - 467 KB]
– Apr 2017
Minister of Justice to UBCM re: Legalization of Marijuana [PDF - 808 KB] – March 2017
UBCM to Bill Blair, MP re: Legalization of Marijuana [PDF - 111 KB] – Mar 2017
UBCM to Minister of Health re: Legalization of Marijuana [PDF - 111 KB] – Mar 2017
UBCM to Minister of Justice re: Legalization of Marijuana [PDF - 111 KB] – Mar 2017
UBCM to BC Minister of Public Safety & Solicitor General re: Legalization of Marijuana [PDF - 123 KB] – Mar 2017
UBCM to BC Minister of Justice & Attorney General re: Legalization of Marijuana [PDF - 123 KB] – Mar 2017
UBCM to BC Minister of Health re: Legalization of Marijuana [PDF - 123 KB] – Mar 2017
Cannabis Legalization & Regulation Secretariat to UBCM re: Legalization of Marijuana [PDF - 498 KB] – Dec 2016
UBCM to Cannabis Legalization & Regulation Secretariat re: Legalization of Marijuana [PDF - 432 KB] – Aug 2016


Cannabis Legalization Now in Force - Oct 2018
Moving Ahead on Cannabis Legalization
- Sept 2018
Special Resolution Seeks Cannabis Tax Sharing Agreement
- Sept 2018
Cannabis Production on the ALR
- Aug 2018
Cannabis Retail Information for Local Governments
- Aug 2018
Cannabis Legalization Legislation Passes Final Vote
- June 2018
Senate Passes Bill C-45 with Amendments - June 2018
Legislation for Cannabis Control & Licensing, Distribution - May 2018
Cannabis Legalization Guide Released - Apr 2018
UBCM Principles for Cannabis Taxation - Mar 2018
Submission on ALR/ALC Revitalization - Mar 2018
Cannabis Regulations Safeguard Local Choice, Jurisdiction - Feb 2018
UBCM Submission on Cannabis Legalization - Dec 2017
Health Canada Consultation on Cannabis Regulation – Nov 2017
One Week Left for Cannabis Engagement – Oct 2017
UBCM Focused on Cannabis Legalization, Housing – Sep 2017
Local Governments, Stakeholders Discuss Cannabis Legalization – Sep 2017
Cannabis Legalization Update – Sep 2017
Analysis of Marijuana Survey – June 2017
Federal Marijuana Legislation Introduced – May 2017
Marijuana Survey Underway – April 2017
Update on Marijuana Legalization – April 2017
Input Sought for Marijuana Regulation – Mar 2017
Ruling Allows Municipal Regulation of Dispensaries – Feb 2017
Marijuana Legalization Task Force Releases Report – Dec 2016
Federal Marijuana Legalization Task Force Report Due Soon – Nov 2016
Marijuana Dispensaries – Sep 2016
Forums Focus: Streetside Health Care; Reconciliation; Marijuana Dispensaries – Sep 2016
Marijuana Task Force Seeks Feedback – July 2016


Cannabis Legalization in Your Community: A Primer for BC Local Governments - Last updated Nov 2018
UBCM Presentation on Cannabis Production on the ALR [PDF - 817 KB]
- July 2018
UBCM Submission to Province re: Cannabis Legalization - Nov 2017
Survey Report [PDF - 1.5 MB]
 - May 2017

Relevant Legislation

Federal Bill C-45 - June 2018   
Federal Bill C-46 - June 2018
Provincial Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (Bill 30) - May 2018
Provincial Cannabis Distribution Act (Bill 31) - May 2018
Provincial Motor Vehicle Amendment Act (Bill 17) - May 2018


Bhar Sihota, Policy Analyst
604 270 8226 ext. 114

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