Cannabis Legalization

Cannabis became legal across Canada on October 17, 2018. The City has updated its bylaws, policies and processes to respond to these changes.


The decision to legalize cannabis came in April 2017 with the federal government introducing a bill to legalize non-medical (recreational) cannabis. The federal bill outlines a framework for regulating cannabis production, and sets standards for health and safety, establishes criminal prohibitions, and clarifies what aspects of the regulations are the responsibility of provincial governments.  In February 2018, the provincial government released legislation and regulations about cannabis legalization.

The Government of Alberta has since introduced their own bill (Bill 26) to further control and regulate cannabis based on the Federal Government's framework. Bill 26 identifies the roles and responsibilities of municipalities in the legalization of cannabis.

Jurisdictional Responsibilities and Government Roles for Cannabis (pdf)
Table Source:

On September 4, 2018, City Council approved an updated Smoke Free Bylaw that prohibits consuming cannabis in public, which includes smoking and vaping cannabis. Read the news release for more details: Updated Smoke Free Bylaw prohibits consuming cannabis in public.

A Public Hearing was held on April 16, 2018.

  • Bylaw 3357/L-2018 - an amendment to the Land Use Bylaw to add definitions related to Cannabis Retail Sales and exclude the use in all Districts
  • Bylaw 3357/P-2018 - an amendment to the Land Use Bylaw to add the Discretionary Use of Cannabis Retails Sales to C1 and C4 Districts, the application requirements and regulations for Cannabis Retail Sales.

What did we do to prepare for the legalization of cannabis?

The federal and provincial governments are responsible for overseeing the new system for cannabis. The City of Red Deer recently updated our bylaws, policies and processes in preparation for the legalization of cannabis with a focus on the following areas:

  • Land use regulations and business licence processes for cannabis stores
  • Setting and enforcing rules for consuming cannabis in public
  • Setting workplace policies to address the safety of City employees and citizens
  • Determining where cannabis stores can be located and rules for store operations
  • Developing a public education and awareness campaign 

The provincial and federal governments also play a role in many of these areas.

With this in mind, there are a number of bylaws that may need to be amended for the legalization of non-medical cannabis, including:

Amendments to these bylaws require City Council approval.

Frequently Asked Questions

Additional Resources

There is a lot of misleading information floating around about cannabis and legalization. The links below will take you to webpages from reputable sources.