The city of Beaumont, Alberta, has amended its Land Use Bylaw to limit the production of medical cannabis to agricultural or light industrial lands. The decision was made to address the concerns of residents who complained about the odours and other nuisances caused by large-scale cannabis cultivation in residential neighbourhoods.
Federal rules allow medical cannabis production in homes
The federal government legalized cannabis in 2018 and issued licences for people to grow cannabis in their homes for medical use. However, the federal rules did not include any requirements to regulate the potential issues, such as overwhelming odours, fire hazards, mould, and property damage, that may arise from growing large amounts of cannabis indoors.
According to Health Canada, as of March 2023, there were 19,076 individuals registered for personal or designated cultivation of cannabis for their own medical purposes in Canada. This number has decreased from more than 47,000 in September 2021, as Health Canada has been conducting more inspections and enforcing compliance with the regulations.
Beaumont residents voice their complaints
Some residents of Beaumont, a city near Edmonton International Airport, have expressed their dissatisfaction with the federal rules, saying that they have negatively affected their quality of life and property values. They reported that some houses in their neighbourhoods had upwards of 100 or more cannabis plants, producing strong and unpleasant smells that permeated the air.
In mid 2023, Beaumont City Council approved a motion to draft amendments to its Land Use Bylaw that would prohibit individuals with a federally-issued licence from growing medical cannabis in residential land use districts. Mayor Bill Daneluik blamed the federal government for creating the situation and leaving the municipalities to deal with the problem.
Beaumont adopts new rules for medical cannabis production
In January 2024, Beaumont City Council passed the amendments to its Land Use Bylaw that restrict the production of medical cannabis to land designated as Agricultural Holdings or Business Light Industrial Districts. Producers will also be required to submit a development permit and a site plan that includes odour mitigation strategies. The building must be at least 100 metres away from schools, playgrounds, and other sensitive areas. Production must be indoors and out of the public’s sight.
The changes do not apply to people who grow up to four cannabis plants at their home for personal use, as permitted by federal legislation. Large scale commercial cannabis production and processing is also prohibited in the city under the bylaw amendments.
Mayor Daneluik said that the new rules will ensure that Beaumont’s neighbourhoods remain vibrant and livable, while respecting the rights of medical cannabis users. He also urged the federal government to review and revise its medical cannabis regulations to address the issues faced by municipalities across the country.