Following a September 2020 announcement regarding the development of farm-gate and direct delivery programs for non-medical cannabis, the Province is examining the possible introduction of cannabis consumption spaces. The BC Cannabis Secretariat plans to engage broadly with key stakeholders, including UBCM’s Cannabis Policy Technical Working Group, in the fall, with formal public and stakeholder engagement in 2022.
Although BC cannabis laws do not currently allow for cannabis consumption spaces (e.g., tasting rooms, lounges, special events), this subject has previously been raised by UBCM as part of its work to inform the development of the provincial non-medical cannabis framework. In a November 2017 submission, UBCM was supportive of the Province developing dedicated places of use (licensed establishments) where individuals could consume cannabis.
As the Province currently engages with the cannabis industry regarding the development of the farm-gate program, it is taking the opportunity to hold preliminary discussions with the industry about the potential for non-medical cannabis consumption spaces at farm-gate sites. Cannabis cultivators have emphasized that the viability of farm-gate sales would be limited without the ability to offer tourism and hospitality experiences to attract visitors. There has also been increasing interest in non-medical cannabis consumption spaces from cannabis, tourism and hospitality sectors as a means to help support economic recovery and increase the competitiveness of the legal cannabis market.
The Province indicates its decisions about cannabis regulation continue to be informed by the guiding principles of protecting children and youth, promoting public health safety, reducing the illegal cannabis market, and road safety. Any potential policy changes to allow non-medical cannabis consumption spaces will prioritize these principles, and maintain consistency with existing measures that:
- Prohibit indoor smoking and vaping in public establishments;
- Prohibit minors in cannabis consumption spaces;
- Address drug-affected driving;
- Prevent involvement of organized crime;
- Discourage co-use of cannabis and alcohol; and,
- Require local and Indigenous government recommendations prior to the Province authorizing cannabis sales.
Local governments seeking to convey questions, concerns or input regarding cannabis consumption spaces may contact Bhar Sihota, UBCM Senior Policy Analyst or Casey Pescod, Senior Policy and Legislative Analyst, BC Cannabis Secretariat.
UBCM continues to seek local government staff representatives for its Cannabis Policy Technical Working Group. The Working Group was established by the UBCM Executive in November 2019 to engage with the provincial government on an as-needed basis regarding new and ongoing policy and technical issues (e.g. cannabis consumption spaces). Individuals interested in learning more or joining the working group may contact Bhar Sihota.