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May 2, 2017, 4:50 pm

City of Richmond Takes Firm Stand to Control Marijuana Related Businesses

City of Richmond

RICHMOND - The City of Richmond is clarifying its actions regarding marijuana production and research facilities and marijuana dispensaries, following a series of newspaper ads that have misrepresented the facts. The City of Richmond continues to strictly control the location of marijuana production and research and development facilities, while it has an outright ban on marijuana dispensaries.

“A number of newspaper ads have misrepresented the facts around City Council’s actions on this issue,” said Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie. “We are calling for these ads to be withdrawn and for the newspapers that have published these ads to refuse any future publication. To be clear, we have prohibited any marijuana dispensaries from operating in Richmond. Further, our Official Community Plan policies only permit for the possibility of one Health Canada-licensed marijuana production and/or research and development facility to be located in Richmond. While federal law permits such facilities, we have taken steps to tightly control and limit their operation. Council has been united in taking these actions.”

Licensed commercial marijuana production and research and development facilities are permitted by Health Canada regulations that came into effect in 2014. With the introduction of the new Health Canada regulations, Richmond and many other regional municipalities were receiving applications and inquiries about opening such facilities. The Province of BC changed its regulations to allow for such facilities as a permitted farm use in the Agricultural Land Reserve. The City did not have any existing language in its bylaw regarding marijuana production and research facilities. A new regulatory process was necessary for the City to control the location of such facilities, while respecting the fact that such facilities are legally sanctioned by the federal government.

In early 2014, City Council adopted zoning amendments that specifically prohibited marijuana production and research and development facilities as a permitted use in all of its zoning classifications. Instead, such facilities would only be considered on a case-by-case basis and approved through a site specific rezoning process, requiring a public hearing. The facility would have to be licensed by Health Canada and meet community safety and environmental standards determined by the City. Facilities would only be permitted in select locations that would not negatively impact sensitive land uses such as schools, parks and community institutions. The City would only allow for one such facility at any given time.

Since the new zoning amendments were adopted, the City has considered two rezoning applications for marijuana research and production facilities.

The first application for a facility at 11230 Horseshoe Way was approved following a Public Hearing. The facility was to be located in an industrial area, close to the Richmond RCMP headquarters.  The facility was to have very strong security and environmental controls. There are no schools or residential areas within the immediate vicinity. The facility was not intended to do any business with the general public. However, the facility never completed its rezoning requirements and the application was closed by City staff.

In 2016, Council approved preliminary rezoning approval to a marijuana production facility to be located at 5960 No. 6 Road. The rezoning application is waiting final consideration by Council pending confirmation that the facility’s license has been approved by Health Canada. No facility is currently operating. The proposed facility would be located in an industrial area, with no schools or residential neighbourhoods in the immediate vicinity. It would not do business with the general public.

In 2017, Council again amended its bylaws to specifically prohibit marijuana dispensaries as a permitted land use within all zoning classifications.

The City has vigorously enforced the prohibition on dispensaries. There is currently one identified marijuana dispensary openly operating in Richmond without a business licence. The City and RCMP have conducted extensive enforcement on this facility, included the issuance of 18 bylaw infraction tickets by the City and two raids by the RCMP. However, the facility has continued to operate in defiance of City bylaws and Criminal Code provisions. The City is now seeking an injunction in BC Supreme Court that would require the business to cease its operations within the City of Richmond.

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