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Cannabis Legalization

On April 13, 2017, the Government of Canada introduced legislation to legalize, regulate and restrict access to recreational cannabis. This legislation came 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.

Possession and use of recreational cannabis is legal in Canada as of Oct. 17, 2018 with the federal Cannabis Act coming into effect.

 

Government Regulation: 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) was passed by the Senate and the federal Parliament and came into effect on Oct. 17, 2018. 
Learn more here. 

The use of recreational cannabis is legal as of Oct. 17, 2018 for adults aged 18+.

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) regulates the licensing of retail cannabis stores.  AGLC began accepting applications for licenses in March 2018. Sale of non-medical cannabis is legal with Bill 26 coming into effect on Oct. 17, 2018.

City of Lethbridge (Municipal Government)

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.

 

Cannabis Consumption: What You Need to Know

The smoking of Cannabis in public areas is restricted by both the provincial Tobacco Smoking Reduction Act and the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act. Under provincial regulations, Albertans are allowed to consume cannabis in their homes and yards as well as in some public spaces where smoking tobacco is allowed, but use is prohibited in vehicles (except parked RVs). 

Where is cannabis consumption allowed?

Outdoors in public places except where prohibited under provincial regulations (see below). Consuming cannabis in a private single-family residence or yard is not restricted, as it is not considered a public place.

Where is cannabis consumption prohibited?

In an effort to protect children and limit second-hand exposure, public smoking or vaping of cannabis in Alberta will be prohibited from any place where tobacco is restricted, and in the following places:

  • on any hospital property, school property or child care facility property
  • at or within 5 metres of:
    - a playground
    - a sports or playing field
    - a skateboard or bicycle park
    - a zoo
    - an outdoor theatre
    - an outdoor pool or splash pad
  • in any motor vehicles, except those being used as temporary residences, such as a parked RV

Cannabis cannot be consumed:

  • in any workplace or public building, structure or enclosed area with public access, including outdoor bus shelters
  • within 5 metres of a door, window or air vent of any workplace or public building, structure or enclosed area with public access

Consumption of cannabis will be prohibited at any cannabis retail outlets. Provincial legislation will establish provincial offences for public consumption infractions and consumption of cannabis in vehicles.

The smoking of Cannabis in public areas is restricted by both the provincial Tobacco Smoking Reduction Act and the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act.  These ACTS set out provincial penalties for smoking or vaping of cannabis in many public places and establish fines for doing so.

  • Concerns about suspected violations of rules regarding public consumption of cannabis, or the sale of cannabis to minors can be directed to the AGLC at 1-800-272-8876.
  • Concerns about suspected underage possession or consumption of cannabis, or illegal trafficking of cannabis can be reported to the Lethbridge Police Service at 403-328-4444.

Links:

What About Municipal Restrictions on Public Consumption of Cannabis?

Municipalities may create additional restrictions on public consumption using their existing authorities. At this point, the City of Lethbridge is not introducing additional public consumption regulations as the combination of the Alberta Tobacco & Smoking Reduction Act and the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act & Regulation set out restrictions on cannabis consumption within enclosed public spaces and prescribed distances from certain outdoor public places.

These provincial restrictions are more stringent than those within current municipal bylaws such as the Smoking Bylaw and the Parks Bylaw. The province has the authority to introduce additional regulations to address any regulatory gaps that may be identified. At the municipal level, we will monitor the local implications of cannabis legalization to determine whether any additional measures are required.

 

Local Preparation for Cannabis Legalization

Changes to our Land Use Bylaw to deal with retail cannabis stores

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 as of the date of legalization 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

Public Consumption of Cannabis

The smoking of Cannabis in public areas is restricted by both the provincial Tobacco Smoking Reduction Act and the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act.  These ACTS set out provincial penalties for smoking or vaping of cannabis in many public places and establish fines for doing so.

Municipalities may create additional restrictions on public consumption using their existing authorities.
At this point, the City of Lethbridge is not introducing additional public consumption regulations as we anticipate the province may introduce additional regulations to address any gaps in existing provincial legislation.

Community Meeting on Cannabis Legalization - May 28, 2018

This meeting was held 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)

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