Cannabis Legalization

Cannabis is expected to be legal across Canada in 2018. The City is working to update its bylaws, policies and processes to respond to these changes.

Background

The decision to legalize cannabis came in April 2017 with the federal government introducing a bill to legalize non-medical (recreational) cannabis. The federal bill outlines a framework for regulating cannabis production, and sets standards for health and safety, establishes criminal prohibitions, and clarifies what aspects of the regulations are the responsibility of provincial governments.  In February 2018, the provincial government released legislation and regulations about cannabis legalization.

The Government of Alberta has since introduced their own bill (Bill 26) to further control and regulate cannabis based on the Federal Government's framework. Bill 26 identifies the roles and responsibilities of municipalities in the legalization of cannabis.

Jurisdictional Responsibilities - Government roles Cannabis

Table Source: https://www.alberta.ca/cannabis-legalization-in-canada.aspx

Public Hearing: Land Use Bylaw Amendments Related to Cannabis Retails Sales

Red Deer City Council proposes to amend Bylaw 3357/L-2018 and Bylaw 3357/P-2018. Read the March 5, 2018 Regular Council Agenda for details.

A Public Hearing was held on April 16, 2018 at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers, 2nd Floor of City Hall.

  • Bylaw 3357/L-2018 - an amendment to the Land Use Bylaw to add definitions related to Cannabis Retail Sales and exclude the use in all Districts
  • Bylaw 3357/P-2018 - an amendment to the Land Use Bylaw to add the Discretionary Use of Cannabis Retails Sales to C1 and C4 Districts, the application requirements and regulations for Cannabis Retail Sales.

Related Links

Frequently Asked Questions

What is cannabis?

Cannabis is a product made from the leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant. It is sometimes called marijuana or pot, and it can be consumed by smoking, vaporizing, eating it in food, drinking, dabbing, putting drops under the tongue, or applying it directly to the skin in a lotion. Edibles are not currently being considered by the Province.

When will cannabis be legal to use or sell?

Right now, cannabis is legal for medical purposes only. The non-medical use of cannabis is expected to be legal across Canada starting in 2018 with the passing of the federal Cannabis Act and Bill 26: An Act to Control and Regulate Cannabis.

Right now, it is still illegal to sell, purchase and consume cannabis. The City will not accept permits for stores to sell cannabis for recreational purposes until after it is legal, which is expected to happen in 2018.

What is the difference between medical cannabis and recreation use of cannabis?

Medical cannabis is used by individuals with a prescription who purchase cannabis from licensed medical cannabis producers. Health Canada regulates and enforces the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations. The City of Red Deer regulates the location of medical cannabis production facilities within its land use bylaw. It remains illegal to sell or consume cannabis for non-medical purposes.

What is The City of Red Deer doing to prepare for the legalization of cannabis?

The federal and provincial governments are responsible for overseeing the new system for cannabis. Right now, The City of Red Deer is updating its bylaws, policies and processes in preparation for the legalization of cannabis with a focus on the following areas:

  • Land use regulations and business license processes for cannabis stores
  • Setting and enforcing rules for consuming cannabis in public
  • Setting workplace policies to address the safety of City employees and citizens
  • Determining where cannabis stores can be located and rules for store operations
  • Developing a public education and awareness campaign

The provincial and federal governments also play a role in many of these areas.

With this in mind, there are a number of bylaws that may need to be amended in preparation for the legalization of non-medical cannabis, including:

  • Land Use Bylaw
  • License Bylaw 3159/96
  • Parks and Public Facilities Bylaw 3255/2000
  • Smoke Free Bylaw 3345/2005 Effective July 8, 2013
  • Community Standards Bylaw 3383/2007
  • Special Events Permit Bylaw 3572/2016

Any amendments to these bylaws will require City Council approval.

Where will recreational cannabis be sold when it is legal?

Cannabis will be sold in specialty cannabis-only retail stores. It will not be sold in locations where retailers are selling alcohol, tobacco or pharmaceuticals. Cannabis retail stores will be privately run, but they will sell provincially licensed product and will follow provincial guidelines for staff training and security.

The City of Red Deer will be responsible for issuing development permits and business licenses for cannabis retail stores and will influence where non-medical cannabis is sold via its land use bylaw.

Cannabis will also be sold online through a provincially operated system that will include safeguards for verifying the age of the person buying cannabis.

Where will cannabis stores be located when it is legalized?

Recently, the Province announced its guidelines for the location of cannabis retail stores. The City of Red Deer can and is updating its bylaws to supplement the provincial regulations by adding mandatory distances cannabis stores must be from each other and from places like schools, daycares and recreation facilities, to name a few. The City of Red Deer is also updating its bylaws to restrict where cannabis stores can be located.

In preparation for the legalization of cannabis, two land use bylaw amendments were given first reading at a City Council meeting on Monday, March 5, 2018. If approved, these amendments would:

  • Clarify that all cannabis sales require approval by The City, and retailer are not automatically allowed to start selling cannabis after legalization
  • Limit cannabis retail sales to C1 City Centre (Downtown) Commercial District and C4 Major Arterial District.
  • Mandate various setbacks from locations with sensitive uses, with the following rules for potential non-medical cannabis store locations:
    • Must be 300 m from provincial health care facilities
    • Must be 300 m from K-12 schools, 100 m for post-secondary
    • Must be 300 m from indoor recreation facilities
    • Must be 300 m from other cannabis stores (to prevent clustering)
    • Must be 300 m from daycares (is reciprocal to daycares if a cannabis store is set up first)
    • Must not be co-located with the sale of tobacco and a number of other retail types
    • Can only operate from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
    • Shall not be located next to a drinking establishment, microbrewery or liquor store
    • No person may ingest/consume cannabis on retail premises
    • No outdoor storage
    • No emission of odour
    • Products in the store must not be visible from the outside
    • Drive-through windows are prohibited
    • Must have professionally installed and monitored alarm system
    • Must have digital camera security system
    • The business name must be prominently displayed at all public access points
Who, when and how can someone apply to open a non-medical cannabis store?

Non-medical cannabis remains illegal; therefore, The City of Red Deer will not accept development permit applications for private cannabis retail stores. Although the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) will accept applications starting March 6, 2018, City of Red Deer permits and licensing are required before a private cannabis retail store can open in Red Deer. Proof of eligibility from the AGLC will be required prior to approval from The City of Red Deer. Applicants will be required to submit a copy of their AGLC license to The City as part of the development approval.

This means if you want to sell cannabis in a retail store you will need to apply for a license from the province as well as a development permit from The City of Red Deer after April 16, 2018, pending approval of proposed land use bylaw amendments. These requirements apply even if you have an existing retail store or cannabis counselling service.

Anyone can apply to open a cannabis store; however, the following requirements currently exist:

  • Cannabis cannot be sold with alcohol, tobacco or pharmaceuticals
  • All applicants must go through a provincial licensing and eligibility process prior to submitting an application with The City of Red Deer
  • All applicants will have to get a City development permit and a business license
  • If you have an existing cannabis related business, such as a medical cannabis counseling service or a store that sells cannabis related products, you will not be able to automatically sell cannabis once legalization takes effect in 2018.
When cannabis is legal, can I smoke it in public?

The province has indicated that municipalities can be more restrictive about where people can smoke and vape cannabis in public. The City of Red Deer already has a Smoke Free Bylaw that prevents people from smoking tobacco outside of schools, in playgrounds and near entrances to buildings; however, The City will be reviewing its Smoke Free Bylaw in the coming months and could decide to allow smoking and vaping of cannabis in the same places as tobacco is smoked, or to restrict public smoking and vaping of cannabis in more places. Any decisions related to restricting smoking and vaping of cannabis must be approved by City Council.

According to the Province, adults may smoke or vape cannabis at home and in some public places; however, smoking and vaping will not be permitted in the following places:

  • Vehicles
  • Cannabis retail stores
  • Anywhere smoking or vaping tobacco is already restricted (such as in public parks or in front of doorways)
How will rules about smoking and vaping cannabis in public be enforced?

When cannabis is legal, The City of Red Deer will be responsible for enforcing municipal requirements for smoking and vaping of cannabis in public. Provincial regulations will be enforced by the AGLC.

Can I grow cannabis at home? And if so, how much?

The federal government is responsible for regulating the growing of cannabis at home. When cannabis is legal, adults who are 18 or older can grow up to four cannabis plants, per residence (household) for personal use.

Renters, or people living in condos or multi-family dwellings, may be restricted from growing cannabis in their homes based on rules in rental agreements or condominium bylaws.

Will there be public consultation about the legalization of cannabis?

Between March and July 2018, The City of Red Deer will look to Red Deerians for their feedback on how it can best update its bylaws to identify where cannabis retail stores should be located, where and how people can smoke and/or grow cannabis in The City of Red Deer.

As most of the legislation is federally and provincially dictated, The City of Red Deer has no direct influence over the decision to legalize cannabis. However, information about public participation conducted by the Province of Alberta can be found on the province’s website at https://www.alberta.ca/cannabis-legalization.aspx

Who can I contact for more information?

The City of Red Deer will be updating its website as more information becomes available. If you have specific questions, please call us at 403-342-8111, and we will get you to the right department and people who can answer your specific questions.