This is a great question and a field that I have some experience in at this point.
I live in a small town called WIlliams Lake, BC, a population of just over 10,000.
Over the winter, our city council unanimously voted towards being a “pro-cannabis business community”. Before this, my dream of being a Farm owner was only an idea. After hearing this news I got in contact with my partner and we agreed this was a good point to move forward.
I spent the next several month communicating with Aldermans on the council developing a relationship to try and let them know what we needed as a company and what they required as a municipality. I also spent that time working closely with a Realtor who believed in our ventures.
Fast forward to a couple of week ago. The city hosted an open house where the public where able to voice concerns about their proposed bylaw changes.
I was able to get these plans before hand to study and I found out very quickly that our government has no idea what they’re doing! Yes they changed the bylaws to welcome Cannabis Farmers and Retailers alike, but they were so restrictive that it became impossible for us. In the allocated area there were only two available properties, one is 5-6x over my budget, the other isn’t suitable for many reasons, including the geography.
I was the first person to speak to the city and I spoke about all of their missed points, including how they’re going to miss out on tourism possibilities, outside investments, and population growth. The entire time I was speaking they looked at me with dumbfounded looks upon their faces.
It became very clear to me very quickly that the people who are in charge of making these laws are in serious need of education.
That being said it’s hard to say if there are any good examples to show you for zoning regs that work. As far as I know, most LP’s that are up and running now had to get individual agreement and re-zoning permits to build their farms, and that just might be the route we have to go as well. So to ease our process, we looked at areas throughout the country and have found a strong concentration of LP’s within an area and we feel this is going to be our best bet to also get the zones to where we need them.
As for how Canadians can lead the way, I think we can take a good example from CO when they first legalized Recreational Cannabis. I think it’s fair to say that a lot of the progress this industry has made is a direct result of their initiative. They just got up and did it. But it didn’t come without it’s shortfalls. Through trial and error, they now have a flourishing industry. I think true pioneering processes like that are going to be the key for success for Canada, and other governments that follow suit.
What I think is unique about Canada is that we have a true free market unlike Uruguay, and that is it a true Federal level market, unlike the US. While the zoning issue is still somewhat of an issue, provinces have recognised that they must change their zoning laws in order to accommodate. Does that mean that they are going to change them in a way that is actually going to work? It’s hard to say.
I think the biggest lesson here is that we as an industry need to work as closely with our governments as possible to educate them about our unique needs to operate and to come to a common grounds of agreement that works for all parties.