Edmonton to look at expected impacts of legalization

City Council passes a motion to look at the regulatory tools for the city to deal with the impacts of the Federal government's marijuana legalization plans.

Edmonton City Council quickly and unanimously passed a motion to have the city formally outline the expected impacts of legalization yesterday.

The motion, presented by Councillor Mike Nickel, asks the city to look at all the expected and possible impacts of marijuana legalization and what zoning rules the city has available to deal things with like distance from schools for possible dispensaries, etc. The report is due by Feb. 14, 2017.

Councillor Nickel initially tried to introduce the zoning inquiry at a planning committee last week, but was told he had to present it at the city council meeting. Councillor Anderson moved for Councillor Nickel to make a motion without customary notice, with Mayor Don Iveson noting that it was ‘just past 4:20’. The motion quickly passed unanimously.

"We can't bury our heads in the sand anymore on this. ... We need to be proactive," Nickel told the press last week.

This is only the beginning of this process for Edmonton, as city staff will now have to put together a report and come back to council with their findings. Federal regulations aren’t expected to be presented until Spring of 2017. The federal Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation is expected to submit their report to the government this month.

The motion can be seen at the end of this article.


Calgary announced earlier this year they would be regulating medical marijuana counseling businesses (businesses which help people access medical cannabis, legally, but do not carry the product). Earlier this month at the  Intergovernmental Affairs Committee public meeting, the Committee approved five main areas they want the federal government to consider, including engagement from the federal government, local control, restricting the growing of marijuana in people’s homes, sharing of tax revenues with local munis and give munis time to develop new regulations.


Many cities across Canada have been struggling to understand what the tools necessary are to deal with the legalization of marijuana. When the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) met last month, they discussed the issue, as did the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) at their annual meeting earlier this year. Issues like local control and a sharing of tax revenue were among the concerns raised by municipal representatives. 

Cities like Vancouver and Victoria and other smaller BC Munis have even begun the process of regulating and limiting where and how medical dispensaries can operate, and the messaging from municipal and even provincial politicians across Canada for months now has been a need for more ‘guidance’ from the Feds on how to deal with marijuana dispensaries.

While current federal law trumps any municipal authority, some contend that cities do indeed have the power to regulate these medical dispensaries in the interim. Cities already regulate businesses which are in violation of federal law.

Cities who do begin the process of establishing regulations for how and where recreational cannabis is sold, consumed, and even grown will almost certainly have a leg up when guidelines do eventually filter down from the federal and provincial governments.

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