Commercial Cannabis Production Facilities

Updated September 24, 2018

On Tuesday, September 18, 2018 Regional Council approved amendments to the Regional Plan and all Land Use By-laws for cannabis related land uses following a public hearing.  

In response to recent Federal legislation, HRM is considering amendments to the Regional Plan and community land use by-laws to address commercial cannabis production facilities in HRM’s planning documents.


The Federal Government currently regulates medical cannabis and new legislation will legalize recreational cannabis. 

The Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) currently enables eligible Canadians to obtain medical cannabis from a licensed producer or produce a limited amount of cannabis for their own purposes. 

On June 21, 2018, the Federal Government's Cannabis Act received Royal Assent. This created a legal framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis across Canada. The Cannabis Act will come into force on October 17, 2018.

The Federal Government strictly regulates the commercial production of medical cannabis and will have similar licensing requirements for the commercial production of recreational cannabis products. As of July 2018, there were 114 Federally licensed producers in Canada, including 3 in Nova Scotia (outside of HRM). 


What is the municipality's role in regulating commercial cannabis production? 

Cannabis-related businesses are expected to expand and evolve as a result of the legislation of recreational cannabis.  

As a municipality, HRM is responsible for regulating land use through planning documents (municipal planning strategies and land use By-laws. 

Because they are a new type of land use, commercial cannabis production is not specifically discussed in HRM's planning documents. Currently, these facilities are considered under other broadly defined land use definitions contained within HRM's community land use By-laws. In most cases, commercial cannabis production facilities are permitted in industrial zones as a ‘manufacturing use’, and depending on the specific operation and community land use By-law, the use may also meet the definition for an ‘agricultural use’ or ‘greenhouse’. 


Where will HRM permit commercial cannabis production?

From a land use perspective, most commercial cannabis production facilities are similar to manufacturing or agricultural processing facilities. Strict Federal security requirements often mean operations are appropriate for an industrial setting. Many of the existing facilities across Canada have been established within vacant industrial buildings. 

Planning staff have reviewed where commercial cannabis production facilities may be appropriately located in the municipality. On September 18, 2018, Regional Council considered a a staff recommendation report that recommended these facilities be permitted in industrial zones and rural mixed use zones that permit industrial uses and/or intensive agricultural uses. Following a public hearing, Regional Council approved the amendments. 


Will HRM regulate where cannabis can be sold? 

Through the Cannabis Control Act, the Province of Nova Scotia will regulate the sale and distribution of cannabis through the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC). Sales and distribution of cannabis for medical or recreational purposes from a storefront (like a dispensary) is not currently permitted, and has not been proposed to be permitted by the Province. The Municipality’s legislation must be consistent with federal and provincial legislation. 


Reports and Minutes

July 31, 2018: 

August 15, 2017: 
•    Staff Report 
•    Regional Council Agenda
•    Regional Council Minutes

Related Links: 

Government of Canada: Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis 

Province of Nova Scotia: Cannabis Legalization