What’s expected in
Canada and Alberta
Cities seek balance between convenience and safety
Buying cannabis for non-medical use
when it’s legal will not be as easy as
skipping down to the corner store.
With legalization comes a raft of
new rules at the federal, provincial and
The federal government will set rules
on how cannabis is produced and how
much people can carry with them or
keep at home. It will also decide on
advertising, the minimum age limit and
growing for personal use. It will continue
to oversee the sales of medical cannabis.
Edibles will not be legal for sale until
July 2019 at the earliest. “They’re very
ingenious in the way they package
these products,” says Dr. Gerry Predy,
AHS’ senior medical officer of health
and senior medical director, Population,
Public and Indigenous Health. Edibles
can look like candy and other foods that
might tempt children, he says.
Alberta was “first out of the gate”
to draft cannabis policy, says Fiona
Clement. The province is a model for
other provinces, says Clement, director
of the University of Calgary’s Health
Technology Assessment Unit at the
Cumming School of Medicine.
Provinces and territories will oversee
cannabis sales. The Alberta Gaming and
Liquor Commission expects to sell 250
licences for cannabis stores this year, says
Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley. Alberta
is the only province to go with a private
retail system, as it does with alcohol sales.
Anyone who wants to run a cannabis
store will undergo a background check,
The stores must be at least 100 metres
away from healthcare facilities, schools
and land reserved for schools. Many
towns and cities, such as Fort McMurray,
plan to set minimum distances from
parks, playgrounds, childcare centres,
places of worship, community centres
and other public areas and events. At
least one town, Taber, has proposed
banning cannabis sales entirely.
The province has also outlawed
non-medical cannabis use in schools,
daycares and hospitals.
Towns and cities across the province
are preparing local rules around retail
locations, land use and zoning. They are
also educating citizens and preparing
local police. Edmonton, for example, is
amending its bylaws so garden centres
cannot grow cannabis. The city also
plans to allow cannabis lounges.
Calgary city council passed a cannabis
consumption bylaw in April. Smoking,
vaping and eating edibles will be banned
in public places. Calgary is looking into
allowing cannabis use at public events in
restricted spaces, similar to beer gardens.
Breaking the new bylaw may lead to a
ticket and a fine.
Albertans will also be able to grow their
own legally obtained cannabis at home:
up to four plants per household, indoors.
Clement says the province needs to
recognize missteps and adapt quickly
once cannabis is legal. “We are going
to get this wrong in some areas,” she
says. “We need to be prepared to nimbly
correct our failures.”
REGULATIONS IN ALBERTA
•;Legal age: 18.
•;Retail stores: Cannabis can be
sold in the form of loose marijuana,
joints and oil. Stores may also sell
lighters and rolling papers. Clerks
must be at least 18 and have
cannabis sales education.
•;Locations: Stand-alone stores,
separate from alcohol, medicinal
drugs and tobacco sales.
•;Online sales: Albertans will be
able to buy online through a
•;Growing at home: Limit of four
plants per household, indoors only.
•;Possession: Limit of 30 grams per
person, but no limit on amount in
the home. Zero-tolerance policy
for anyone under 18. Youth found
with five grams or less will be
fined, drugs seized and parents
or guardians notified. Youth found
with larger quantities may face
•;Smoking locations: Restricted
to where tobacco smoking and
vaping is allowed.