Legalization of Cannabis

Cannabis Project - Current Stage

The latest bylaw amendments:


Cannabis (commonly referred to as marijuana) will be legal for recreational use on October 17, 2018. Currently, it is only legal to purchase and consume cannabis with a medical prescription and by mail order from a licensed producer. Legalization will mean that all adults 19 years of age and older will be able to purchase it for their own use. The exact date of legalization has not yet been determined by the federal government.

Many of the decisions surrounding cannabis legalization will be made by the provincial and federal governments. As of December 2017, British Columbia has determined that cannabis will be sold in both publicly- and privately-owned retail locations.

Local governments, such as the City of Nelson, are responsible for the regulation of some aspects of cannabis legalization including land-use zoning and business licensing. Nelson City Council’s goal is to have regulations in place prior to July. With respect to the legalization of cannabis, the role of local government includes:

  • Retail sales: zoning and business licensing to determine where cannabis stores may be located.
  • Public consumption: identifying where consuming cannabis will be allowed in Nelson. The Clean Air Bylaw restricts where people can smoke or vape tobacco and cannabis. This includes a 7-metre buffer from commercial and public building entranceways, schools, parks, amenity areas, and transit stops. Council wants to know if public consumption should continue to be the same as tobacco or become more restrictive, similar to liquor.
  • Personal cultivation: the province may allow municipalities to set rules on public visibility and security requirements for growing cannabis plants at home to ensure public safety and limited nuisances (such as odours and visibility).

Understanding what residents of Nelson would like will help the City prepare for legalization within the short timeframe and implement rules that are acceptable to our community.  This will be dependent on the parameters set out by the provincial governments. In order to be ready for cannabis legalization, the City of Nelson is taking the following steps to prepare:

  • Implementation of a moratorium on recreational cannabis outlets until both provincial and local regulations are in place (Complete).
  • Seeking feedback from the public on the areas that local government can regulate (retail outlets, public consumption, and personal cultivation).  A feedback form was distributed to all households and businesses in early February 2018.  Other public engagement events are taking place as well. (Complete).
  • The City and Council will develop and implement regulations to best meet the communities’ desires and also achieve objectives established by the federal and provincial governments.

City Council is committed to ensuring that residents and businesses in Nelson have a voice in the development of municipal cannabis regulations. To make the best decisions that we can for Nelson, Council needs to hear from as many people as possible in order to reflect our diverse perspectives.

Cannabis legalization is a complex issue involving all levels of government. We encourage you to be informed! Please click on the links in the left-hand sidebar to learn more.


Did you know that once cannabis is legalized …?

Consuming cannabis in Nelson will be limited by our Clean Air Bylaw which includes a 7-metre buffer zone around all public entrances to buildings and no smoking in parks, in the cemetery, in transit stops, on school, or health board properties.

Individuals aged 19 and older will be able to possess up to 30 grams of legal dried cannabis or equivalent in non-dried form, and they will be able to share up to 30 grams with other adults.

Individuals will be able to purchase cannabis from a provincially licensed retailer in those provinces that have set up a retail system.

The federal government has stated that individuals will be able to grow up to four (4) cannabis plants per household for personal use from licensed seed or seedlings. The Province may put in further restrictions around number of plants, as well as around public visibility and security requirements and administrative penalties.