Council passes multiple amendments governing the retail sale and public consumption of cannabis

As we near the federal legalization date of October 17, 2018, The City of Calgary is fine tuning its regulations for cannabis that balance the feedback received by our diverse population and will work in the best interests of citizens overall.

Council approves process to allow for designated cannabis consumption areas

Council approved a suggested process for identifying and allowing designated consumption areas around the city in which cannabis may be smoked, vaped or otherwise consumed in public. These areas would be exempted from the regulations in the Cannabis Consumption Bylaw, which prohibits public consumption in all forms.

The suggested process would allow for initiation and involvement from the Ward Councillor and residents of each community in which a designated cannabis consumption area might be located. Designation would occur through a Public Hearing of Council.

At this time, there are no proposed designated cannabis consumption areas, however Councillors may direct Administration to investigate potential areas in their ward. The viability of potential designated spaces would be measured through criteria which address providing suitable, defined spaces while also considering the overall well-being of communities.

Designated cannabis consumption areas would be identified through signage as well as easily recognizable infrastructure. Areas would be equipped with waste receptacles, tamper-proof ashtrays, and would be confined to a defined radius. The Chief Bylaw Enforcement Officer may temporarily suspend areas should there be safety or nuisance concerns.

Exemption from the Cannabis Consumption Bylaw for festivals and events

Council approved an exemption from the Cannabis Consumption Bylaw for festivals and events. The exemption allows for a fully monitored cannabis consumption area that is separated from main gathering areas.

Each application will be reviewed by The City of Calgary’s Interdepartmental Events team composed of representatives from Alberta Health Services, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission and more than 20 City business units including Recreation, Corporate Security, Police, Fire, and CEMA.The City’s Chief Bylaw Enforcement Officer would approve or reject applications based on the event’s ability to meet requirements. The Chief Bylaw Enforcement Officer may impose conditions, suspend or revoke permits.

Festival attendees will have the opportunity to consume cannabis in a viable, defined area without the concern of being ticketed.Potential impacts to youth and festival goers who wish to avoid exposure to cannabis will be reduced.

Note: provincial regulations do not permit smoking or vaping of tobacco or cannabis in a public, enclosed space. Therefore, designated areas at festivals and events will not be tents; rather, they will be open-air, fenced sites.

Administration will monitor the impact of the exemption for a full festival season and will report back to the Standing Policy Committee on Community & Protective Services in Q4, 2019 with results and recommended adjustments.

Council also approved an amendment which would also allow for the smoking or vaping of tobacco in designated cannabis areas at festivals and events.

Cannabis Stores – Next steps in applications

The City appreciates the patience of applicants and communities as we coordinate The City’s response to the Federal announcement of cannabis legalization.

On June 25, 2018, Council approved the addition of a 30 metres separation distance from a Cannabis Store to a Place of Worship, Pawn Shop or Payday Loan in the Cannabis Store Guidelines.

Changes to laws continue to unfold. The Senate has given Royal Assent to Bill C-45 to legalize recreational cannabis in Canada, and we anticipate an Order in Council to formally set the October 17, 2018 in force date. The Province is expected to proclaim their legislation in July. Administration will be requesting second and third reading of Land Use Bylaw amendments at the July 23, 2018, Council meeting, which will add the Cannabis Store use into land use districts. If approved, The City may then begin making decisions regarding the cannabis store development permit applications as early as Monday July 30, 2018.

The cannabis regulations The City has set are reflective of the concerns that Calgarians expressed to us, in many aspects including public consumption, separation distances, and where cannabis businesses should be located. These regulations will be evaluated over time and will likely evolve in response to changing federal and provincial legislation – such as the expected legalization of cannabis edibles in 2019 – and feedback from citizens and businesses as Calgary adapts to legalized cannabis.

For more information on cannabis legalization in Calgary, visit