Strathcona County's approach to cannabis legalization
The Government of Canada has introduced legislation to legalize cannabis. There will be new federal, provincial and municipal processes for cannabis production, sale and consumption.
The legalization of cannabis will have many impacts. Strathcona County is reviewing federal and provincial direction and legislation as it becomes available, to help manage the legalization of cannabis in the best interest of our community.
What is cannabis?
Cannabis refers to products made from the leaves, flowers and resins of the cannabis plant. Other names for cannabis include marijuana or pot. Cannabis users smoke, vaporize, or add cannabis to food or drinks.
Today, it is only legal to use cannabis with a medical prescription. The Government of Canada’s plans to legalize cannabis (expected in July 2018) will allow cannabis to be used for recreational purposes.
While the legalization of cannabis is a federal decision, provinces and municipalities each have areas of responsibility.
Strathcona County role
The federal and provincial governments are determining the roles and responsibilities of municipalities in cannabis legalization.
Municipalities, including Strathcona County, still require details and further clarification from the federal and provincial government, in areas such as public health and education, law enforcement, taxation revenue distribution and facility access. Strathcona County may need to create or change various services, policies and bylaws to accommodate legalization.
Strathcona County is investigating how to best manage the legalization of cannabis in the best interests of our community.
Sharing information will be an important part of this process, including community dialogue.
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Strathcona County’s next steps include:
- Gather information, including understanding how Alberta’s framework will be applied at the municipal level.
- Draft a County-focused bylaw framework once the final draft federal and provincial legislation is in place to legalize recreational cannabis (including defining the level of control municipalities will have).
- Review bylaws that will need to be amended to accommodate the legalization of cannabis including, but not limited to, the Land Use Bylaw and the Parks Bylaw.
Strathcona County is investigating its role in:
- Monitoring cannabis use in public
- Educating the public on legal cannabis use
Recreational cannabis- Retail store application
- Details on licensing and establishing a cannabis retail operation are now available from the provincial government. Physical retail locations will be subject to provincial government regulations and the terms of licenses granted by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission.
- A municipal development permit is required before a company can be issued a provincial cannabis retail license. Strathcona County will be accepting retail permit applications once recreational cannabis has been legalized.
- On April 24, Council approved changes to the Land Use Bylaw to address and place land use regulations on retail cannabis outlets.
- The process for applying for a retail cannabis outlet in Strathcona County will be the same as applying for other provincially regulated outlets such as liquor stores.
- For more details, please see the development permit application checklist for retail cannabis (183.5 KB) and Cannabis FAQs.
- Please see the map (3.9 MB) for potential cannabis retail locations within Sherwood Park.
Medical cannabis - Growing and processing
- All businesses must first obtain a development permit before operating in Strathcona County.
- Applicants must apply to the federal government for a licence and receive all the necessary approvals to become a licensed producer for medical purposes.
- As a discretionary use, the Development Authority has the opportunity to consider if what is being proposed is compatible and an appropriate scale of development on a site by site basis as well as taking into consideration feedback from adjacent landowners.
- Strathcona County's Land Use Bylaw has been updated to address and place land use regulations on licensed cannabis growing, production, distribution and processing facilities, to reflect changes in Federal regulations.
The Government of Alberta has introduced legislation that proposes the Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission will be responsible for the oversight of private retailers and distribution of cannabis in Alberta.
The Government of Canada is responsible for cannabis production, sale, possession and medical cannabis regulations.
Visit the Government of Canada website for more information on the federal legalization and regulation of cannabis.
Purchasing cannabis and cannabis retail locations
Once federal legislation comes into effect, Albertans will have two options for purchasing recreational cannabis:
- Privately run retail stores
- Provincial government-operated online sales
Chris Gow: 780-464-8165