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The legalization of cannabis will have many impacts. Cannabis will become a part of Edmonton’s economy; it will be regulated through federal and provincial laws and in some City bylaws, and you may see it being produced and sold in Edmonton.

Engagement History


The City of Edmonton completed additional consultation from February to April, 2018, including:

  • An online survey on public smoking and vaping of cannabis
  • Circulation of the proposed land use framework for cannabis stores for feedback from stakeholders
  • Focus groups with interested cannabis store operators about cannabis business licences

The City of Edmonton circulated a proposed land use framework for cannabis retail stores from February 23 to March 21, 2018. The proposed framework is based on:

  • Compliance with provincial regulations
  • Results of public engagement activities conducted in November and December 2017
  • Providing opportunities across Edmonton for cannabis store locations

The City of Edmonton made changes to the proposed land use framework based on comments from stakeholders who responded to the circulation.

Read the What We Heard and What We Changed Report.


The City conducted public engagement activities from November 13 to December 13, 2017, including:

  • An online survey on cannabis legalization
  • Participation in Engage Edmonton - a series of city-wide engagement events hosted in different areas of Edmonton
  • Workshops - hosted with key stakeholders to have more in-depth conversations about cannabis legalization

What We Heard Reports

Cannabis Legalization Survey Summary

The City conducted an online survey from November 14 to December 7, 2017. The survey received over 4,100 responses. 

Cannabis Legalization Workshops

The City held four stakeholder workshops, and a number of public information sessions in November and December 2017 to discuss the legalization of cannabis.

Proposed Cannabis Land Use Framework

The City shared a proposed land use framework to accommodate cannabis stores from February 23 to March 21, 2018.


Frequently asked questions about the City of Edmonton's response to federal changes regarding legalization of cannabis.

What is cannabis?
  • Cannabis refers to products made from the leafs and flowers of the cannabis plant
  • You may have also heard it called marijuana or pot
  • It can be consumed by smoking, vaporizing, eating in food, drinking, dabbing, putting drops under the tongue, or applying it directly to the skin in a lotion

City Council approved a more technical definition for cannabis to be included in the Zoning Bylaw.

Cannabis ​means a cannabis plant and anything referred to in subsection 6.1.17.a but does not include anything referred to in subsection 6.1.17.b:

a. Cannabis includes:

i. any part of a cannabis plant, including the phytocannabinoids produced by, or found in, such a plant, regardless of whether that part has been processed or not, other than a part of the plant referred to in subsection 6.1.17.b.;

ii. any substance or mixture of substances that contains or has on it any part of such a plant;

iii. any substance that is identical to any phytocannabinoid produced by, or found in, such a plant, regardless of how the substance was obtained.

b. Notwithstanding subsection 6.1.17.a, Cannabis does not include:

i. a non-viable seed of a cannabis plant;

ii. a mature stalk, without any leaf, flower, seed or branch, of such plant;

iii. fibre derived from a stalk referred in subsection 6.1.17.b.ii; and

iv. the root or any part of the root of such a plant.

What is legal now and when will cannabis legalization happen?

Cannabis is currently legal for medical purposes only. This means that individuals with a prescription can purchase cannabis from licensed medical cannabis producers. The City of Edmonton does not regulate the medical use of cannabis. Health Canada regulates and enforces the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations. It remains illegal to sell or consume cannabis for non-medical purposes.

Cannabis legalization refers to making cannabis legal for non-medical purposes. You may hear this called consuming cannabis for recreational or personal use. If Federal legislation is successful, cannabis will be legal in summer 2018. Aside from what is allowable under the federal medical cannabis regulations, it is still illegal to sell, purchase and consume cannabis. The City cannot issue permits for stores to sell cannabis for recreational purposes until after it is legal in summer 2018.

What changes does the City need to make to prepare for cannabis legalization?

There are a number of bylaws that will likely require amendments to prepare the City for the legalization of non-medical cannabis, including:

Any amendments to the above mentioned Bylaws will require stakeholder input and City Council approval. After municipal bylaw amendments are approved, and provincial and federal legislation is passed, the City will then be able to accept permit and licence applications for cannabis stores.

The City will also work on educational materials to explain the impacts of cannabis legalization and deal with inquiries. Edmonton’s approach to cannabis legalization will be evaluated over time and will change in response to:

  • Changes in federal and provincial legislation related to cannabis, such as the regulation of edibles or the introduction of cannabis lounges
  • What is working well and what is not in how the City regulates cannabis
  • Information from Council and the public
How is medical cannabis managed?

The production, distribution, selling and purchasing of medical cannabis is managed by the federal government. The medical cannabis system will continue to be regulated by the federal government after cannabis for recreational purposes is legalized in summer 2018.

A permit is required from the City of Edmonton for cannabis production facilities for medical cannabis. Commercial licensed producers of medical cannabis, authorized by Health Canada, are classified as a General Industrial Use in the Zoning Bylaw. This use would only permit commercial producers to operate in areas zoned industrial.

More information about the medical cannabis system can be found on the Government of Canada website.

Where will non-medical cannabis be sold when legalized?

Cannabis will be sold in specialty cannabis-only retail stores, which will not be allowed to sell alcohol, tobacco or pharmaceuticals. Cannabis retail stores will be privately run, but they will sell provincially-licensed product and will follow provincial guidelines for hours of operation, staff training and security.

The City of Edmonton will be responsible for issuing development permits and business licences for cannabis retail stores.

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

How does the City of Edmonton define a cannabis store?

In June 2017 City Council approved adding the following definition to the Edmonton Zoning Bylaw:

Cannabis Retail Sales means development used for the retail sale of cannabis that is authorized by provincial or federal legislation. This use does not include Cannabis Production and Distribution.

If you already operate a retail store you may be wondering if you can sell cannabis once it is legalized. Our Zoning Bylaw defines selling cannabis as a separate use that is not part of the following uses:

Clinics and businesses that provide consultation and information on the use and access to medical cannabis are generally classified as a Health Service in the Zoning Bylaw. This also includes clinics that provide prescriptions for cannabis for medical purposes.

This means that if you want to sell cannabis in a retail store you need to apply for licensing from the province, and apply for a development permit specifically for Cannabis Retail Sales with the City of Edmonton. These requirements apply even if you have an existing retail store or cannabis counselling service.

Where will cannabis stores be located when legalized?

We anticipate that the provincial government will establish minimum guidelines for the distance cannabis stores can be from:

  • Other cannabis stores and/or alcohol stores - this is to avoid the clustering or over concentration of cannabis stores in one place
  • Places where children and youth are likely to gather, such as schools, community centres, and parks - this is to help keep cannabis out of the hands of children

Municipalities will be able to be more restrictive in the distances cannabis stores must be from each other and from places where children and youth gather. Municipalities will also have to decide which areas or zones of the city cannabis stores can be located in. Any decisions related to which zones cannabis stores can be located in and the separation distances between stores and other uses will have to be approved by City Council.

Who, when and how can someone apply to open a cannabis store?

The City of Edmonton is not currently accepting applications for cannabis retail stores. Selling cannabis is still illegal. There are many details of the provincial and municipal licensing process for cannabis stores to work out. The City will update the cannabis legalization website when more information is available.

If you see a store illegally selling cannabis you can contact the non-emergency Edmonton Police Service line at 780-423-4567 or #377 from an Edmonton mobile phone.

When cannabis is legalized it will be sold in private retail stores. This means that anyone can apply to open a cannabis store. It is important to note the following:

  • Cannabis cannot be sold with alcohol, tobacco or pharmaceuticals
  • All applicants will have to go through a provincial licensing process
  • All applicants will have to go through a City licensing process for a 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 summer 2018
What has the province said about consuming cannabis in public?

The province has stated that adults may smoke or vape cannabis at home and in some public places. They have stated that smoking and vaping cannabis will not be allowed 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)
  • Areas frequented by children, including school and hospital properties, skate parks, spray parks, and playgrounds
What decisions does Edmonton have to make about consuming cannabis in public?

The province has stated that municipalities can be more restrictive if they want in where people can smoke and vape cannabis in public.

The City of Edmonton has laws that prevent smoking tobacco (cigarettes) outside of schools, and at entrances to buildings. This means that people can smoke tobacco on the sidewalk in public. The City 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 will have to be approved by City Council.

How will the rules around smoking and vaping cannabis in public be enforced?

The City will have to amend the Public Places Bylaw to specify where cannabis can be smoked in public and what fines there will be for breaking the cannabis smoking law. Once cannabis is legal, the City of Edmonton will be responsible for enforcing municipal requirements for smoking and vaping of cannabis in public. This would likely be done by issuing warnings and tickets to individuals who are smoking and vaping in public where they are not allowed to.

When cannabis is legalized will there be cafes or lounges where it can be consumed inside?

Cannabis lounges is the term commonly used to describe a business where you could purchase and consume cannabis inside. The Edmonton Zoning Bylaw defines cannabis lounges as a separate use that is not part of the following uses:

  • Bars and Neighbourhood Pubs
  • Nightclubs
  • Private Clubs

Cannabis lounges will not be allowed under the Alberta Cannabis Framework, and this land use will not be permitted in any zones at the City of Edmonton at this time. This means that the City cannot accept applications for cannabis lounges.

The province has advised that cannabis lounges will be revisited once the federal government makes decisions about how to regulate edible cannabis products.

What are the rules for growing cannabis at home?

The federal government is responsible for regulating the growing of cannabis at home. When cannabis is legal, adults who are 18 years or older will be able to 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.

When cannabis is legal where in, or outside, my home can I grow cannabis plants?

The federal government allows adults to grow up to 4 legal cannabis plants per household. Provinces and municipalities can decide to restrict where cannabis is grown on a property if they wish.

At this point in time the City cannot tell you whether cannabis, when legal, can be grown in garages, sheds or other accessory structures. The City will update the cannabis legalization website when more information is available.

What is the process to become a commercial licensed producer of cannabis?

Under the proposed Federal Cannabis Act, all producers of cannabis or cannabis products will need to be federally licensed to operate. The Government of Canada will establish application processes and criteria for people who want to become producers of legal recreational cannabis. The federal government's public consultation on the proposed regulation of cannabis is closed. Read the comments received during the consultation.

The federal government currently regulates commercial licensed producers of medical cannabis through the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations. You can find more information about cannabis for medical purposes.

When legal where can commercial cannabis production be located in Edmonton?

In June 2017, City Council approved adding the following definition to the Edmonton Zoning Bylaw:

  • Cannabis Production and Distribution ​means development used principally for one or more of the following activities as it relates to Cannabis:

a. the production, cultivation, and growth of Cannabis;

b. the processing of raw materials;

c. the making, testing, manufacturing, assembling or in any way altering the chemical or physical properties of semi-finished or finished goods and products;

d. the storage or transshipping of materials, goods and products; or

e. the distribution and sale of materials, goods and products to Cannabis Retail Sales stores or to individual customers

When cannabis is legal, commercial licensed producers of non-medical or recreational cannabis, authorized by the Government of Canada, will be classified as a General Industrial Use in the Zoning Bylaw. This means that commercial producers would only be permitted to operate in areas that are zoned industrial.

For More Information




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