Cannabis Legalization 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, and is still illegal to sell, purchase and consume.

The federal government's bill C-45 has received Royal Assent and provides legal access to cannabis production, distribution and sale on October 17, 2018.

The City will begin accepting development permit applications for cannabis retail stores beginning July 11, 2018. However, no approvals or permits will be issued until cannabis is legalized. 

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

Medical cannabis is used by individuals with authorization 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. The City of Red Deer recently updated 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

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 is 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?

The City of Red Deer updated 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 updated bylaw also restricts where cannabis stores can be located within Red Deer.

The bylaw amendments were approved on May 14, 2018, after first reading on March 5 and a public hearing on April 16. An online survey was also conducted to get feedback from citizens resulting in 1,474 people responding to the survey.

Amendments to the bylaw included:

  • Clarification that all cannabis sales require approval by The City, and retailers are not automatically allowed to start selling cannabis after legalization
  • Limiting cannabis retail sales to C1 City Centre (Downtown) Commercial District and C4 Major Arterial District.
  • Mandating various setbacks from locations with sensitive uses, with the following rules for potential non-medical cannabis store locations:
    • Must be 300 m from an approved hospital
    • 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?

The City of Red Deer will begin accepting development permit applications for private cannabis retail stores on Wednesday, July 11, 2018. Approval is required before a cannabis retail store can open in Red Deer. 

Applicants must also include proof of eligibility from the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC). The AGLC application process has been open since March 6, 2018.

These requirements apply even if you have an existing retail store or cannabis counselling service; you will not be able to automatically sell cannabis once legalization takes effect.

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
When cannabis is legal, can I smoke it in public?


No. Consuming cannabis in public, which includes smoking and vaping cannabis, is prohibited per The City’s Smoke Free Bylaw. The bylaw prohibits smoking or any form of consumption of cannabis in any public location. This bylaw is in addition to the Alberta Act to Control and Regulate Cannabis that limits smoking and vaping in locations such as playgrounds, sports fields, hospitals and schools, to name a few.


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 looked to Red Deerians for their feedback on how best to 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.

The City of Red Deer received feedback at a public hearing held on April 16, 2018 as well as through an online survey that resulted in 1,474 responses.

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

Who can I contact for more information?

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.