Information for Businesses Producing and Selling Cannabis

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Cannabis Production Licensing

The federal government is responsible for administering Canada’s cannabis production licensing process. Under the Cannabis Act and supporting regulations, which came into effect on October 17, 2018, a licence must be obtained from Health Canada to cultivate, process, package, or conduct research and development relating to legal cannabis, cannabis products or industrial hemp.

To apply for a federal cannabis production license, applicants must provide Health Canada with details regarding where a proposed facility will be located. In securing a production site, applicants are encouraged to review municipal zoning regulations respecting permitted land uses and land use provisions. Failure to comply with the zoning by-law will result in failure to be issued a building permit, which is a requirement for establishing a production facility. See Municipal Requirements for Cannabis Production below for further details regarding zoning requirements for cannabis production facilities.

Cannabis Retail Sales

The provinces regulate the distribution and sale of cannabis in Canada. The Ontario Cannabis Store is a Crown agency of the Government of Ontario and is the only legal distributor of cannabis in the Province. Cannabis may be sold directly through the Ontario Cannabis Store website, or through a privately licensed retailer. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is responsible for administering retail licenses to private retailers. For further information regarding retail sales of cannabis in Ottawa see Cannabis Retail Store License Authorization Applications.

Municipal Requirements for Cannabis Production

In addition to obtaining a license for cannabis cultivation and production from Health Canada, cannabis producers must meet municipal regulations respecting land uses as defined in a municipal Zoning By-Law.

Under the City of Ottawa Zoning By-Law, cannabis production and processing are only permitted in those zones where ‘Cannabis Production Facility,’ as defined under Section 54, is a listed permitted use. This includes, generally speaking, urban industrial zones and rural agricultural and industrial zones.

In securing a suitable site, it is the applicant’s responsibility to review the applicable zoning designation and permitted uses for the zone. Zoning designations can be found on the City’s publicly accessible mapping system through an address search, or by speaking with a Development Information Officer, located at any of the City of Ottawa client service centres, or by calling 3-1-1.

Additional zoning provisions for cannabis production facilities can be found under Section 97 of the Zoning By-Law, including required distance separations from sensitive land uses. Prospective producers may also want to review associated parking requirements as outlined under Section 101 of the Zoning By-Law.

Municipal Permits and Planning Applications

In addition to obtaining a federal cannabis production license, cannabis producers are required to meet municipal development application requirements for establishing a cannabis production facility. These may include the following, particularly if a new building is proposed (note this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Building Permit Application. Please see Do I need a building permit? for further details.
  • Details regarding when a Site Plan Control application is required.
  • Development charges are applied at time of building permit issuance and relate to the size and use of the proposed building. Rate details can be found here. A cannabis production facility is considered an industrial use for the purposes of calculating development charges.