It's Time to Talk about Cannabis in Tofino


After a century of prohibition, the pending legalization of recreational cannabis will be a significant societal change that requires forethought, attention and care to ensure a smooth implementation. 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 in BC over the age of 19 will be able to purchase certain cannabis products 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. The District of Tofino is committed to making sure that this change happens in a way that respects the unique needs and values of our community.

Although provincial regulations have not been finalized, we anticipate that local governments like the District of Tofino will be responsible for the regulation of some aspects of cannabis legalization including:

  • Retail sales: zoning and business licensing to determine where cannabis stores may be located.
  • Public consumption: identifying where consuming cannabis will be allowed in Tofino. 
  • 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).

Over the next several weeks, we will be engaging with the public to hear your concerns, ideas and feedback as we navigate this change. 

District staff will collate all feedback received online and at the open house.

Further opportunities for input will be listed here in the weeks to come.



The District of Tofino, and Tofino Council as a whole, is supportive of the orderly legalization of cannabis and committed to working with the public to develop an approach to regulation that works for our community.

The provincial regulations indicate that local governments will have the ability to comment on all licences within their jurisdiction, however, the District currently does not have a policy, or guidelines in place upon which to judge applications as they come in. 

At the public hearing for Bylaw 1238 on February 13th, 2018, we heard from many residents who agree with the idea that there should be some kind of opportunity for the community, staff, and Council to review a proposed cannabis business location. On February 27th, Council authorized staff to gather further public input and engage the community about a regulatory framework that works for Tofino.

Similar to liquor licencing, our goal is to gather further public input for a policy that will maintain a balance between access to cannabis and the broad community interest.

Thank you to all those who filled out the feedback form and attended the March 20th Open House.

A second Open House is being planned for early April.


Local governments’ role in the regulation of recreational cannabis is becoming clearer, but it is not yet fully defined.

To sell non-medical cannabis in British Columbia, retailers will be required to obtain a licence from the Province, and comply with local regualtions. To date, it is understood that in BC, local governments will have power to regulate cannabis retail locations through zoning and business licensing powers.

Thank you to all those who filled out the feedback form and attended the March 20th Open House. A second Open House is being planned for early April.

Federal Government:
The federal government is involved with most questions around cannabis legalization, such as possession limits, taxation, regulatory compliance, and education. It is also establishing minimum regulatory standards that each province may uphold or further restrict.

For more information about federal jurisdiction, Click Here.

Provincial Government:
To understand the proposed provincial framework, take a look at the B.C. Cannabis Private Retail and Licensing Guide. 

Highlights from the Guide include:

  • Private retail outlets will be required to obtain a license from the Province;
  • Applications for retail licenses will be subject to significant review including:
    • Information on the type of entity that is making the application
    • Background and criminal record checks
    • Proof of support of the local government
    • Proposed store name which may not include words that would lead a consumer to believe that
    • the store is a provider of medical cannabis;
  • Cannabis may only be stored at the retail premise (not off site);
  • The province is considering what security requirements will be necessary for retail locations;
  • Minors will not be permitted on cannabis retail store premises even if accompanied by and adult;
  • Consumption lounges will not be licensed at this time;
  • Stores may only be open between the hours of 9:00 AM and 11:00 PM;
  • Private retail outlets may not conduct online retail sales and may not provide a delivery service;
  • Retail stores may only buy cannabis from the Liquor Distribution Branch;
  • Retail stores may only sell dried cannabis, cannabis oils and seeds as well as “cannabis accessories” (sale
  • of other products including snacks or tobacco will not be permitted at retail premises).

Send feedback now using our Online Submission form:

On February 13, 2018, the District of Tofino held a well attended Public Hearing on Bylaw 1238. At the Public Hearing, Council heard submissions from many points of view, however the majority of the public in attendance expressed reservations about a land use regulatory framework that would prohibit the production, sale and distribution of cannabis. 

On February 27th, 2018, Council voted unanimously to re-open the public consultation process for this Bylaw. 

Please read the resources on this page and send us your feedback using our online form.

Join us for an Open House on March 20th, from 4:30-6:30 in the Tin Wis Muuchinink Board Room to learn more about proposed regulations and share your thoughts about legal, recreational cannabis retail in Tofino. 

More opportunities for the public to engage with and comment on proposed solutions, ideas and regulations will follow as we develop an approach with the community.



Provincial regulations are expected before July 1st, 2018, and we expect the rules governing retail stores to be similar to those currently in place for liquor. 

In the absence of finalized regulations from the province, it's difficult for the District to give prosptective business owners certainty about the what they can expect. What we do know is that once provincial and local regulations are finalized, business owners will need a provincial permit, a local business licence, and must be in compliance will local zoning regulations. For the Province to issue a permit, applicants must have the support of the local government in the community where the proposed store would be located.


The Provincial Guide provides preliminary information for those who are considering applying for a provincial licence to retail non-medical cannabis. It contains information to help applicants make business decisions and describes the application process, such as:

  • Who is eligible?
  • What is the process for applying for a non-medical cannabis retail licence?
  • What can be sold in retail stores?
  • What security measures will be required for retail stores?
  • What hours can a retail store be open?
  • How long will the application process take?
  • Will there be an application fee?

As Tofino awaits the final regulations from the Province, we are engaging with the community to fine-tune our regulatory framework. 


Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 1238, 2018, proposed a District wide restriction on the sale of cannabis to allow the District time to consider new applications within the context of future Provincial and Federal regulations. In the absence of finalized regulations from the Province and Federal government, the Bylaw was proposed as an interim means to ensure our community was not caught unprepared for an influx of applications, and to allow the public time to consider how this type of business will fit into our community.

The Bylaw was not meant to permanently ban the retail sale of cannabis products in the District, nor was it intended to inhibit lawful home production or medical use. 

Other communities that have enacted or proposed similar temporary prohibitions on cannabis retail stores include:

  • City of Nelson
  • Resort Municipality of Whistler
  • District of North Cowichan
  • Maple Ridge
  • District of Peachland

Once we've gathered public feedback and the provincial regulations are in place, the District will be better able to  regulate the retail sale of cannabis in a way that respects the goals of the wider community.




Aaron Rodgers
Manager of Community Sustinability
250-725-3229 (701)