FAQ and February 28th Update on the Cannabis Legalization Project

City of Calgary Cannabis FAQ

On February 21st, Administration presented the proposed Land Use Bylaw and Cannabis Store Guidelines to the Council Committee on Planning and Urban Development.

CLICK HERE to view the report.

Administration’s recommendations for to the Business License Bylaw, the Smoking Bylaw, the Community Standards Bylaw, and the Transit Bylaw will be read at a committee of Council on April 3rd. All of the changes will be voted on by Council on April 5th.  There will be an opportunity to speak on April 5th, and more details are available at the end of this document.

Common Questions and Answers for Community Associations

What is the role of the City of Calgary in cannabis legalization?

The City has been engaging the public for input on:

  • Rules for businesses operating within the municipality
  • Rules relating to public consumption
  • Enforcement of municipal, provincial and federal rules of legalized cannabis

How Will this Affect my Community?

The City’s proposed changes can affect your community in several ways. Land Use Bylaw changes will include minimum separation distances. This will dictate how close a cannabis retailer can be from other uses, such as schools, liquor stores, or treatment centres. The proposed changes will also include where cannabis can be consumed in your community, and how long cannabis retail stores can stay open.

What are the provincial and federal roles in cannabis legalization?

The federal government has introduced a bill to legalize recreational cannabis by July, 2018. This bill creates a plan for regulating cannabis and also looks at:

  • Health and safety;
  • What actions are illegal or criminal; and
  • What aspects of cannabis regulation are the responsibility of the provinces.

The Alberta Cannabis Framework was developed following public engagement to best achieve 4 priorities:

  • keeping cannabis out of the hands of children and youth
  • protecting safety on roads, in workplaces and in public spaces
  • protecting public health
  • limiting the illegal market for cannabis

What is the difference between the recommendations presented on February 21st, and those that will be presented on April 3rd?

The February 21st report proposes new rules to regulate the retail sale of cannabis in the Land Use Bylaw (LUB). The goal is to provide opportunities for cannabis retailing, balanced by rules and guidelines to make sure that they aren’t located too close to sensitive uses, such as schools. The April 3rd report will address where cannabis can and can’t be consumed on public and transit property, as well as issues relating to enforcement.

What are the Cannabis Store Guidelines?

The Guidelines will add more context to the separation distances and make sure that impacts on traffic, aesthetics, and communities are considered. The Guidelines will also help planners make decisions on requests for relaxations on the separation distances described above, and make sure that Cannabis Stores are properly located from sensitive uses with no separation distance rules.

Cannabis retail outlets will be a discretionary use. How will this impact communities?

Community associations and neighbours will be circulated the development permits and be able to provide comments on the proposed development. Planning can also approve the development permit with relaxations from the rules. Finally, it also means that applications will be open to appeals at the Subdivision and Development Appeals Board.

What should I know about the proposed cannabis land uses?

Cannabis Store

The February 21st report proposes a new use called Cannabis Store. The definition allows the sale of cannabis produced by a licensed producer. The rules do not allow consumption of cannabis in the store, but allow counselling and the ancillary sale or rental of cannabis related merchandise.

Cannabis Stores will be a discretionary use in all the districts where Liquor Stores are listed. The chart in Attachment 4 in the report shows all the districts where Cannabis Stores are being added as discretionary uses.

A Cannabis Store can’t be combined with another use, such as a convenience store. However, Cannabis Stores can occur in a multi-tenant building or as part of a mixed-use development.

The provincial government is allowing cannabis retailers to operate under the same hours as liquor stores (10 am to 2 am). The City hasn’t recommended changing these rules.

Cannabis Facility

A broad range of activities can occur in these facilities, and this includes growing, processing, and warehousing cannabis. Recreational and medical production can occur on the same site. Production facilities wouldn’t have to operate in a stand-alone building.

A separation distance of 75.0 metres from a residential district will be required. Finally, it is recommended that Cannabis Store be allowed in the Industrial General (I-G) District in together with a Cannabis Facility. This will give the manufacturer an opportunity to sell its products at its facility.

Cannabis Counselling

Under this use, counseling would be provided by people who are not medical professionals. Consumption and sales cannot occur, but merchandise could be sold or rented.

What are the separation distances for cannabis retailers?

  • 150 metres for emergency shelters and schools
  • 300 metres for cannabis stores
  • Cannabis retailers should also not be located beside child care services or liquor stores

Council’s committee recommended removing the proposed 150 metre separation from post-secondary institutions, the 30 metre separation from liquor stores, and also asked to give retailers the opportunity to exist beside pawn shops and payday loan centres.

How can I stay up to date with this project?

There are a few ways to keep up to date with cannabis legalization at the municipal level. First, the Federation of Calgary Communities will continue to post accessible updates for community associations on our ‘Planning Updates’ page. They can be accessed here. Secondly, you can sign up for the City of Calgary’s emailing list on the right-hand side of this webpage. Finally, you can email the planner working on the project, Matthew, at matthew.zabloski@calgary.ca if you any questions or concerns.

I have concerns or comments that I think Council should know about. How can I have my voice heard?

Administration’s cannabis recommendations will be brought to the April 5th Council meeting. Administration will present each of the recommendations separately and Council will decide if they want to implement each of these changes at the Public Hearing.

There will be an opportunity to speak at council during the April 5th public hearing. Here is more information on how to participate: City Council will hold a Public Hearing in the Council Chambers at the Calgary Municipal Building (800 Macleod Trail S.E.,) on Thursday, April 5, 2018 commencing at 9:30 a.m.

You can also submit a letter that will be circulated to Council ahead of time, regardless of whether or not you plan on presenting to Council. Submissions must be received by 10 a.m. on March 22nd. Read through this document for tips on submitting a letter and presenting to Council.