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Calgary’s Cannabis Consumption Bylaws: What You Need to Know
Countdown to Cannabis Legislation

In anticipation of the legalization of recreational cannabis in just a few months, Calgary’s City Council has taken steps to limit cannabis use in public. On April 5, 2018, City Councillors approved the Cannabis Consumption Bylaw 24M2018 (the “Cannabis Consumption Bylaw”) which prohibits the consumption of any form of non-medicinal cannabis in public.

The purpose of the Cannabis Consumption Bylaw is to restrict the use of cannabis in Calgary’s public places, much like the prohibition of public consumption of alcohol. Here is what you need to know:

What is Prohibited?

Pursuant to the Cannabis Consumption Bylaw, it will be illegal to consume non-medicinal cannabis in any form (smoking, vaping, or edibles) in public places.

What Are the Penalties for an Offence?

A person found smoking, vaping or consuming cannabis in public will be guilty of an offence and could be issued a violation ticket in the amount of $50-$100. Calgary’s bylaw officers, peace officers or police officers could also issue a violation ticket requiring a court appearance.

What About Medicinal Cannabis?

Section 4(1) of the Cannabis Consumption Bylaw creates an exemption for the use of medical cannabis. However, pursuant to section 4(2), any person wishing to rely on the medical cannabis exemption must, on the demand of an officer, produce a copy of the person's medical document issued pursuant to the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations, SOR/2016-230.

Nevertheless, those individuals relying on the medical cannabis exemption provided in section 4(1) must still comply with the provisions of the Smoking and Vaping Bylaw 23M2018 (the “Smoking and Vaping Bylaw”), which sets out certain restrictions where individuals cannot smoke or vape.

Pursuant to the Smoking and Vaping Bylaw, no person can smoke or vape in public premises, at a workplace, or in a public vehicle, such as a bus or taxi.

In addition, individuals cannot smoke or vape within 5 metres of an outdoor pool, outdoor skating rink, playground, skate park, sports field, transit property, or within 5 metres of an entrance or exit to a public premise. The Smoking and Vaping Bylaw defines transit property to include any premises owned, occupied or used by the City to provide transit services. This means, for example, a person cannot smoke or vape on the CTrain or at CTrain Stations.

What About Consumption at Events and Festivals? Will There be Designated “Cannabis Garden” Areas?

A proposal to allow recreational cannabis to be consumed at approved areas at festivals and events, similar to beer gardens, did not go forward at the April 5, 2018 Calgary City Council meeting. Calgary’s City Councillors deleted this section in the Cannabis Consumption Bylaw altogether, directing the City Administration to conduct further research and return the matter back to the Council in the spring of 2018.

When do These Bylaws Come into Force?

The Cannabis Consumption Bylaw will come into effect with the Federal Cannabis Act, which is currently expected to come into force summer of 2018. In contrast, the Smoking and Vaping Bylaw replaces the old Smoking Bylaw 57M92, and came into force on April 5, 2018.

Resources for Businesses and Employers

Field Law has developed a comprehensive workshop to assist employers in preparing for the legislation. We can also tailor the workshop to suit the needs of your organization and present the information to your team at your offices.
We are also available to assist with reviewing and updating alcohol and drug policies or, if such a policy is not currently in place, to draft an alcohol and drug policy appropriate for your workplace.

To schedule a workshop, or get an initial assessment of your drug and alcohol policy, please contact Geoff Hope in Edmonton, Christin Elawny in Calgary.

In addition, our cannabis group has experience advising cannabis producers on financing and corporate governance, packaging and intellectual property. We are also available to assist prospective cannabis retailers with applications for retail licenses.

More to Come
Field Law’s Cannabis Industry Group will continue to countdown to the implementation of the legislation during the summer of 2018.  Stay tuned for more information on labour and employment, occupational health and safety, intellectual property and business-related issues that may arise following the legalization and regulation of cannabis in Alberta and the Territories.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.