Windsor

Amherstburg considering cannabis zoning by-law amendment

A report to Amherstburg council will serve as the first step in formally establishing rules governing the use of agricultural land for cannabis production.

A future amendment would establish formal rules governing cannabis production facilities

Cannabis producers need to apply for a federal license to grow the crop, but they still need to abide by municipal zoning restrictions. (Ron Ward/Canadian Press)

A report to Amherstburg town council will serve as the first step in establishing a formal zoning bylaw governing cannabis production facilities. 

Organized by the town's planning services department, the report itself doesn't propose any amendments to the town's existing zoning bylaws. Instead, the report is a preliminary document intended to kickstart the legislation drafting process.

As per the federal Cannabis Act passed, cannabis producers need to apply for a federal license to cultivate crops on a large-scale basis. 

However, producers still need to adhere to municipal rules that govern where facilities can be set up.

Frank Garardo, Amherstburg's manager of planning services, explained the town doesn't currently have a specific bylaw governing the use of agricultural land for cannabis production. 

"It's preemptive, where it's in the best interests of the municipality that we have something in place," explained Garardo.

He added no major producers have yet approached Amherstburg with the intention of establishing facilities within town limits.

Public consultations likely later this year

Beyond the scope of large-scale production, however, Garardo added there aren't rules in place for local farmers who already own agricultural plots. 

"Say somebody owns an agricultural parcel, can they grow marijuanna on there? Is it allowed as a right? Or do they need a zoning amendment," he said.

"This has nothing to with big industry coming in, it's just more of a town-wide policy."

... It's in the best interests of the municipality that we have something in place.- Frank Garardo, manager of planning services, Town of Amherstburg

Once council receives the report, Garardo said his department will begin internal discussions regarding a future public meeting to discuss a possible zoning bylaw amendment.

Any future policy proposals won't be submitted to council until after public consultations have concluded. 

Garardo was hesitant to offer any specific dates for future consultations, but said the public likely won't be involved until August or September at the earliest. 

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