'Cannabis lounges' included as part of proposed Edmonton bylaw change

The city of Edmonton is looking at a bylaw change that could pave the way for the establishment of cannabis lounges if they are allowed after marijuana is legalized next year.

City looking at 'proactive' steps prior to July 2018 legalization of marijuana

Provincial and municipal governments are grappling with the implications of the legalization of marijuana next year. (CBC)

The city of Edmonton is looking at a zoning bylaw change that could pave the way for the establishment of cannabis lounges if they are allowed after marijuana is legalized in July 2018. 

In a report for city council, administration said these proposed amendments are a proactive step in getting ready for next year. 

"This new classification is intended to differentiate this use from other eating and drinking uses already defined in Zoning Bylaw 12800 (for example, bar and neighbourhood pubs)," city administration said in a report for next week's public hearing.

"Other jurisdictions, such as Denver, have found it necessary to provide places for tourists to consume cannabis — cannabis lounges would provide a land use classification to accommodate this activity."

If passed, the bylaw change won't mean cannabis lounges will necessarily be established. 

The province is responsible for setting rules on where and how cannabis is sold and where it can be consumed. 

The Alberta government is consulting the public this summer through surveys and roundtable discussions. with a view to releasing a draft cannabis framework this fall. 

More work will have to be done on issues like zoning, development permits and separation distances, the report added.

Alberta will be ready 

The bylaw amendments also include a new use called "cannabis retail sales" to the bylaw. The report says this will it make it clear that these products won't be sold in convenience and general retail stores.

"These amendments will also ensure that future regulations for these uses can be applied from the outset, rather than creating the potential for legal non-conforming uses to result after federal legalization occurs," the report said.

The report noted the city has received 25 inquiries from people wanting to set up cannabis dispensaries. 

The city doesn't intend to get involved with people who grow marijuana at home as that is covered by the proposed federal legislation. But city administration plans to keep an eye on it just in case. 

City council is holding a public hearing on the proposed bylaw changes June 28.