Questions of enforcement, zoning, fees, as Edmonton prepares for marijuana legalization

The City of Edmonton is preparing for the legalization of marijuana.
The City of Edmonton is preparing for the legalization of marijuana. Emily Mertz, Global News

The City of Edmonton is gearing up for the eventual legalization and regulation of marijuana.

City staff prepared draft amendments to several bylaws in anticipation of the federal Liberals introducing legislation later this year.

In a report headed to Executive Committee, city staff say bylaws will need to be altered to address nuisance factors such as odour, safety and security as it relates to minors and land use issues such as increased traffic.

READ MORE: Nine questions Parliament will have to answer before we legalize marijuana

Specifics related to the location of marijuana businesses will have to be ironed out as well.

In Vancouver, cannabis businesses have to be 300 metres away from schools, community centres and neighbourhood houses; in Denver, they must be approximately 300 metres from schools and child care places.

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“Under the new legislation it is expected there will be requirements to restrict the co-location of alcohol or tobacco sales with cannabis sales or to provide safeguards in the form of anti-clustering requirements for storefronts and separating distances from community oriented uses (schools, community centres, public parks, etc),” reads the report.

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There is also the issue of public place bylaws, which will oversee the smoking of cannabis in a public area. The report said enforcement will likely need to fall alongside the current bylaws dealing with smoking tobacco in public.

City staff cite Denver as an example when it comes to enforcement – that city added 16 law enforcement positions along with 39 positions in fire services, licensing and inspections.

“This begins to provide an idea about the scope and impact the legalization process could have for a municipality of Edmonton’s size,” the report reads.

The city will also have to tackle issues such as licensing fees. For example, in Vancouver, licensing fees are $30,000 a year for a medical marijuana retail dealer; in Victoria, businesses pay a $7,500 rezoning fee and an annual $5,000 licensing fee.

The report goes to Executive Committee on Tuesday.

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