Cannabis 101

The air in Edmonton is thick with questions and rumours and wishes and half-truths when it comes to cannabis legalization. The City of Edmonton is working hard to ensure everything is as ready as it can be in time for summer 2018. And that includes honest updates like this. Honest because it helps to know where things stand, and honest also because there’s still a lot we’re working on. The truth is some aspects of legalization will become clearer only when legalization happens.   

Here are some of the things we’re hearing, and things you should know.

Popular sidewalks, including Jasper Avenue and Whyte Avenue, are going to be filled with people smoking cannabis, and our dog parks, too…

The Government of Alberta has indicated cannabis use will be treated similar to tobacco. People will be allowed to consume cannabis in their homes and in some public space where tobacco is allowed. Use will be banned in cars.

It’s important to know that individual municipalities may enhance those regulations.

The City of Edmonton has been talking to people to gauge their feelings on this question.  Recent survey results show that around 70 percent of Edmontonians do not want public consumption on sidewalks or in heavy pedestrian areas like Whyte Avenue or Jasper Avenue.

The summer smells of BBQs and backyard fires will be a thing of the past and soon all we’ll be able to smell in backyards is the neighbours’ cannabis…

While using cannabis will be legal in residences—including outdoor yards—we hope it will not overtake the smells of summer. We ask people to be good neighbours. If you plan on smoking cannabis, be mindful of those around you who don’t want to be around the smell. It’s a unique smell. Many people do not like it, and many are unsure of it. Secondhand smoke is a concern for all. Please be considerate of others.

There will be cannabis stores next to libraries and my children’s school. I’ll have to worry about my teens being curious about cannabis with its close proximity…

In Edmonton, cannabis stores will be subject to separation distances.  The draft that is proposed to Council is that the distance is 200 meters, which is double what the Province has regulated.  The City of Edmonton Development and Zoning team is working hard to establish the rules through a draft Land Use Framework for Cannabis Store that aims to keep cannabis stores at a distance from schools, parks and libraries while still ensuring stores can set up in Edmonton.

If you’re a parent preparing to talk to teens about cannabis, Health Canada has put together some great resources to help with that conversation.

I want to be able to open a cannabis retail store……

Opening a store requires a few things.  You will need approval from AGLC. That process will take approximately two to four months. The application form can be found on the AGLC website.
For the City of Edmonton’s purposes, you will need a development permit, a building permit (to do the improvements to the store to meet AGLC and City requirements) and a business licence. The same chart above, which indicates how far from schools and playgrounds stores may need to be,  will also indicate where retail stores can be located.  Until these zoning separation distances are finalized, permitted locations for stores cannot be confirmed.

What about edibles? Will I be able purchase them in the retail stores?

Currently, the federal legalization will apply only to the cannabis plant and oils. At this time, we do not know when cannabis edibles will be legalized by the Government of Canada.

As we mentioned off the top,  there are things we don’t yet know. And there’s a lot of room for disagreement and debate. This is a big piece of work. There are many City of Edmonton experts who sit at a big table every day to work through it all. They are preparing bylaws for City Council decisions, putting together clear processes for potential retailers, and doing all of this to ensure the safety of all Edmontonians as we approach the legalization of cannabis.

We will continue to be open with you, and you’ll  hear more from us here. We want to hear more from you. Leave your comments below or email us at:


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  1. Byron Christopher
    2 years ago

    This is well-written. Thank you to all those involved.

  2. Glen Haner
    2 years ago

    Still a bad idea from start to finish!

  3. Glenda Williams
    2 years ago

    Article brings up important points to consider. What’s honest is that 2ndhand tobacco smoke kills 1,000 non smoking Canadians a year according to Health Canada. 2ndhand Canbabis/Marijuana will be worse. It interferes with brain chemistry. 2ndhand & 3rdhand Cannabis smoke is very dangerous & will alter the lives of non smokers.

    Already people walk down the street smoking Cannabis polluting the air. This isn’t about aroma or smell it’s about the toxic substances that will effect all in apartments & houses. Those BBQ smells will be gone. Unless you live on an estate or in the country you will be effected by 2ndhand Cannabis. What’s best if governments care about the health of their constituents is to ban Cannabis smoke in multi-level dwellings & parks. Imagine children having no place to play due to 2ndhand Cannabis. It’s great to encourage respect but if people were that respectful we wouldn’t need any laws.


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