+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 14-17F

Cannabis Act

November 15, 2017
Expiry Date:
December 1, 2020
Active Status:
MD of Taber
1 - Foothills-Little Bow
Community Services
Intent Not Met
Vote Results:

WHEREAS the Government of Canada has introduced legislation to legalize cannabis by July 2018 which will permit possession of up to 30 grams of dried cannabis by any person over 18 years of age and up to 5 grams by any person between the ages of 12 and 18 years of age; and

WHEREAS cannabis affects memory, attention, psychomotor function and poses a long term developmental risk to children and youth, an increased risk to the general public through impaired driving, uncertain long term effects to users mental health and public safety concerns related to its illicit production and distribution; and

WHEREAS it known that tobacco related illness is responsible for 37,000 deaths in Canada each year yet little is known regarding the social cost of the legalization of cannabis as it relates to increased health care costs; and

WHEREAS the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has indicated to the Government of Canada that a cautious implementation of legalization of cannabis is necessary to permit the science of law enforcement time to develop in order to support evidence based decision making; and

WHEREAS the Government of Alberta has a role in determining how cannabis will be distributed and consumed and has the legislative ability to address impaired driving, public health, education, taxation, and distribution of cannabis; and

WHEREAS Alberta’s municipalities will be responsible for land use and zoning issues related to retail sale and production of cannabis;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties advocate that the Government of Alberta oppose the legalization of cannabis for recreational use in the Province of Alberta until a complete understanding of the implications that  the legalization of cannabis will have on the health of individuals and on community safety is publicly available.

Member Background:

Proposed federal legislation:

On April 13, 2017, the Government of Canada introduced legislation to legalize, regulate and restrict access to cannabis – bills C-45 Cannabis Act and C-46 An Act to amend the Criminal Code. This legislation is expected to come into effect by July 2018. See also the plain language overview of Bill C-45.

Cannabis is currently an illegal substance (with the exception of authorized medical use) under the federal Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

The federal legislation would:

  • Allow adults to possess up to 30 grams of legally-produced cannabis
  • Allow adults to grow up to four cannabis plants per household
  • Set the minimum age for purchase and use at 18 years of age, with the option for provinces to increase the age limit
  • Enable a regulatory regime for the licensed production of cannabis, which would be controlled by the federal government
  • Enable a regulatory regime for the distribution and sale of cannabis, which would be controlled by the provincial government
  • Establish new provisions to address drug-impaired driving, as well as making several changes to the overall legal framework to address alcohol impaired driving

Alberta’s approach:

The Government of Alberta has an obligation and an opportunity to actively shape how the province will adapt to cannabis legalization in a way that best suits Albertans’ needs, circumstances and values.

Our focus is on:

  • Limiting the illegal market for cannabis
  • Keeping cannabis out of the hands of children and youth
  • Protecting public health
  • Protecting safety on roads, in workplaces and in public space

To do this, government will continue to assess the implications of legalization, engage with a wide range of Albertans to hear their views and determine their needs, and respond in a way that makes the most sense for the province.

This will include:

  • Developing a made-in-Alberta policy approach to address provincial aspects of legalization the Alberta Cannabis Framework.
  • Advocating to the federal government on behalf of Albertans on issues of concern or uncertainty.
  • Working with provincial and territorial colleagues to develop common approaches (where feasible) to issues where it makes sense to have consistency across the country.
  • Supporting municipal and indigenous governments with the tools and information they need to decide issues within their jurisdiction in accordance with local needs.

Role of provinces:

While legalization is a federal decision, provinces and municipalities have been given areas of responsibility.

Table 1: Jurisdictional responsibilities

** Provinces will have the ability to strengthen legislation for these areas under federal jurisdiction

Activity Responsible
Federal Provincial Municipal
Possession limits ** Yes No No
Trafficking Yes No No
Advertisement & packaging ** Yes No No
Impaired driving Yes Yes No
Medical cannabis Yes No No
Seed-to-sale tracking system Yes No No
Production (cultivation and processing) Yes No No
Age limit (federal minimum) ** Yes No No
Public health Yes Yes No
Education Yes Yes Yes
Taxation Yes Yes Yes
Home cultivation (growing plants at home) ** Yes No No
Workplace safety No Yes No
Distribution and wholesaling No Yes No
Retail model No Yes No
Retail location and rules No Yes Yes
Regulatory compliance Yes Yes No
Public consumption No Yes Yes
Land use/zoning No No Yes

Social and Health Care Costs:

The harms of alcohol and tobacco are well established. According to the Chief Public Health Officer’s Report on the State of Public Health in Canada (2015), almost 80 percent of Canadians consume alcohol; in 2013, more than 7.4 million Canadians drank enough to be at risk for immediate injury and harm or for chronic health effects, such as liver cirrhosis and cancer. Tobacco-related illness is responsible for 37,000 deaths in Canada each year and results in $4.4 billion of direct health-care costs.

Youth Criminal Justice Act Amendments

184?The schedule to the Youth Criminal Justice Act is amended by adding the following after item 4:

5?An offence under any of the following provisions of the Cannabis Act:

(a)?section 9 (distribution and possession for purpose of distributing);

(b)?section 10 (selling and possession for purpose of selling);

(c)?section 11 (importing and exporting and possession for purpose of exporting);

(d)?section 12 (production); and

(e)?section 14 (use of young person).

Equivalent Amounts

Column 1 Column 2
Item Class of Cannabis Quantity that is equivalent to 1 g of dried cannabis
1 dried cannabis 1 g
2 fresh cannabis 5 g
3 solids containing cannabis 15 g
4 non-solids containing cannabis 70 g
5 cannabis solid concentrates 0.?25 g
6 cannabis non-solid concentrates 0.?25 g
7 cannabis plant seeds 1 seed





RMA Background:

The AAMDC has no active resolutions directly related to this issue. However, in the spring of 2017, the Government of Alberta invited the AAMDC to participate on several provincially-led stakeholder roundtables to discuss various aspects of the legalization process and its impact on rural municipalities. Additionally, the AAMDC made a submission to the Alberta Cannabis Secretariat in the summer of 2017 relating to the legalization process. This submissions can be viewed at https://www.alberta.ca/cannabis-legalization.aspx. The AAMDC also plans to make another submission to the Secretariat in response to their proposed Cannabis Framework. The submission deadline was October 27, 2017.

Government Response:

Alberta Justice and Solicitor General (Alberta Cannabis Secretariat)

As noted in Resolution 14-17F, the decision to legalize cannabis in Canada was made by the federal government. In April 2017, the Government of Canada introduced legislation to legalize, regulate, and restrict access to cannabis, which is expected to come into force this summer. Under the proposed legislation, provincial and territorial governments were left with the responsibility to establish the distribution and retail systems for cannabis within their respective jurisdictions. If provinces do not act in these areas, then the federal government would operate an online retail system.

In response to the federal government’s decision, the Government of Alberta (GOA) developed the Alberta Cannabis Framework (ACF), and introduced legislation to manage how cannabis will be distributed, sold, and consumed within Alberta. The development of the ACF and legislation was guided by the following four policy objectives:

  • Keeping cannabis out of the hands of children;
  • Promoting safety on roads, in workplaces, and public spaces;
  • Protecting public health; and
  • Limiting the illicit market for cannabis.

In order to ensure that the views of Albertans were reflected in the development of this approach, the province completed an extensive public engagement which saw over 60,000 individuals participate in two phases of online and in-person engagement. Additionally, the Alberta Cannabis Secretariat met with over 100 organizations through a roundtable process, and worked extensively with Indigenous and municipal partners and organizations, including the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC), to ensure that the impacts of legalized cannabis on Albertans were understood. The feedback obtained throughout this engagement process, along with input from health, law enforcement, and other subject area experts was incorporated into the final ACF, and subsequently led to the passing of Bill 26: An Act to Control and Regulate Cannabis in Alberta.

Throughout this process, the GOA has been working closely with the federal government to ensure that the priorities and concerns of Albertans are reflected in the development of the overall system for legalized cannabis. Federal, provincial, and territorial officials continue to meet on a regular basis to discuss key areas of concern including issues related to production, taxation, enforcement of impaired driving, and public education and awareness as they specifically relate to cannabis legalization. As chair of the Council of the Federation, Premier Notley wrote to the Prime Minister in December, 2017 to share a report from the Council of the Federation Working Group on cannabis legalization and regulation, which highlighted several areas of ongoing concern among provincial and territorial governments. As legalization approaches, the GOA will continue to work closely with its intergovernmental, municipal, and Indigenous partners to ensure that these concerns are addressed prior to implementation.

Thank you again for the opportunity to provide feedback on this resolution, and we look forward to a continued and productive relationship with AAMDC as we move towards implementing a legal cannabis system in Alberta that protects the health and safety of Albertans and their communities.


While RMA appreciates that the Government of Alberta has conducted extensive public engagement, with input from health, law enforcement and other subject area experts to understand the impacts of cannabis legalization, the fact remains that there are significant gaps in academic, government and industry research efforts related to the impacts of legalized cannabis on public health and community safety. RMA acknowledges that there is a stark difference between understanding concerns from stakeholders and understanding actual implications gleaned from empirical research in communities in which cannabis is legalized. RMA recognizes that this issue is not well researched, however, staff have been actively assisting municipalities in adapting to these changes by providing workshops and information as it becomes available. This resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met.  RMA will continue to advocate that the Government of Alberta lead social and health impact assessments as information becomes available.

Provincial Ministries:
Justice and Solicitor General
Provincial Boards and Organizations:
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