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Cannabis Legalization

Community Meeting on Cannabis Legalization

This meeting was held May 28, 2018 at City Hall as an opportunity for Lethbridge residents to hear from a panel of experts to learn about cannabis legalization and what it means for our community. You can view the slide presentations from our panel members below.

Federal & Provincial Legal Framework – Kelsey L. Becker Brookes, Reynolds Mirth Richards & Farmer LLP

Provincial Regulations – Graham Wadsworth, Alberta Gaming & Liquor Commission

Local Land-use Planning – Jeff Greene, City of Lethbridge         

Watch the presentations at the May 28 community meeting. (Video may not be viewable on some types of devices)

Steps Toward Legalization

On April 13, 2017, the Government of Canada introduced legislation to legalize, regulate and restrict access to recreational cannabis. This legislation will come into effect on Oct. 17, 2018.

According to the Government of Canada, the proposed Cannabis Act creates a strict legal framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis across Canada.

The Act seeks to:

  • restrict youth access to cannabis
  • protect young people from promotion or enticements to use cannabis
  • deter and reduce criminal activity by imposing serious criminal penalties for those breaking the law, especially those who import, export or provide cannabis to youth
  • protect public health through strict product safety and quality requirements
  • reduce the burden on the criminal justice system
  • provide for the legal production of cannabis to reduce illegal activities
  • allow adults to possess and access regulated, quality-controlled, legal cannabis
  • enhance public awareness of the health risks associated with cannabis

The current program for accessing cannabis for medical purposes would continue under the new Act.
Learn more here.

Recreational cannabis will remain illegal until the proposed Cannabis Act is brought into force.


Government: Who's Responsible for What

Government of Canada

Federal law sets out the conditions for legal possession and use of non-medical cannabis.  Bill C-45 (Cannabis Act) has been passed by the Senate and the federal Parliament and will come into effect on Oct. 17, 2018.  Learn more here. 

The use of recreational cannabis will become legal on Oct. 17, 2018.

Alberta Government

Provincial regulations (Bill 26) control the distribution of recreational cannabis and establishes

  • who can own retail cannabis stores
  • general rules about where they can be located
  • rules for staff, safety and security requirements
  • other operational details. 

Learn more about Alberta's approach to cannabis legalization

The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) will regulate the licensing of retail cannabis stores.  AGLC began accepting applications for licenses in March 2018. Sale of non-medical cannabis is not legal until Bill 26 is comes into force on Oct. 17, 2018.

City of Lethbridge

In accordance with regulations and minimum standards established by the province, municipal land-use regulations determine appropriate commercial land-use zones where retail cannabis stores can be located. For example, AGLC regulations state that a retail cannibas store cannot be located within 100 metres of:

  • a provincial health care facility
  • a school building or the property on which a school is located
  • a parcel of land reserved for a future school

These regulations allow municipalities the discretion to establish bylaws that increase these minimum distances.  

Related information from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.


What Lethbridge is doing to prepare for cannabis legalization

Changes to our Land Use Bylaw

On June 25, 2018, City Council approved changes to our City's Land Use Bylaw that establish where retail cannabis stores can and cannot be located in Lethbridge when cannabis becomes legal on Oct. 17. 2018.

A public hearing on this bylaw change was held on Monday, June 11, 2018 at City Hall. Residents were welcome to attend the public hearing to offer comments or just to stay informed. The bylaw changes mirror provincial requirements that retail cannabis stores be located at least 100 metres away from schools, provincial health care facilities, and land reserved for future schools.

View maps of distance requirements for retail cannabis stores


This page will be updated as new information becomes available. Please check back for updates.