Town of Okotoks Prepares for Legalization of Cannabis

Town of Okotoks Prepares for Legalization of Cannabis

With the provincial government’s recent announcement on the regulations around cannabis retail stores, the Town of Okotoks has received an increasing number of inquiries from potential business owners.

However, there are several steps before any applications can be submitted or accepted for retail cannabis establishments in Okotoks.

“We have been waiting for the provincial government to set the regulations and standards that we need to follow,” explained Development Services Director Michael McIntyre. “Now that this is in place we can begin the process to amend the Land Use Bylaw to add the retail sale of cannabis as a listed use and to regulate where and under what conditions it may be approved.”

The legislation to legalize the sale of cannabis does not come into effect until August so the Town cannot consider any applications before this.

More information and updates will be shared with the community as the Town moves forward with implementing the necessary amendments and processes for cannabis retail outlets.

Retail Cannabis Sales

At this time, the retail sale of cannabis is not legal in Canada. Non-medical production, sale and use of cannabis is illegal and is not licensed or permitted by the Town of Okotoks. Therefore, the Town of Okotoks is presently unable to accept applications from businesses for the retail sale of cannabis and its derivative products. Watch this page for updates as the regulations are developed and finalized.

Administration is currently working on a Land Use Bylaw amendment with the goal of enabling consideration of applications for retail cannabis stores in Okotoks following legalization by the federal government, which is expected to be in place by the fall of 2018. The Town encourages compliance with plans, policies, and legislation from all levels of government. The Land Use Bylaw amendment will work within the Province of Alberta’s Bill 26: An Act to Control and Regulate Cannabis, which received Royal Assent on December 15, 2017; updates to the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Regulation (February 16, 2018); and any related or subsequent legislation and regulations.

At this time, the Town of Okotoks may consider a Development Permit Application for the uses and businesses associated with cannabis through the following areas:

  • Retail stores that sell cannabis-related products/paraphernalia, but not cannabis or cannabis derived products, may currently be considered as an Adult Entertainment Use. An adult entertainment use may only be considered in a Direct Control District designated for that purpose.
  • Businesses that provide consultation and counselling on the use of medical cannabis, provide prescriptions for medical cannabis, provide information regarding access to medical cannabis; but do not sell cannabis-related products/paraphernalia, cannabis, or cannabis derived products; may currently be considered as a Medical Clinic or Office, depending upon the nature of the use.

Please note that retail cannabis stores are anticipated to be listed and defined as a specific, unique land use.  That means that existing businesses currently permitted and licensed to operate under existing land use categories will not be permitted to add the retail sale of cannabis to their business operations upon legalization. If the regulations in the Land Use Bylaw allow for the use to be undertaken in the business’s current location, the business operator may make application for a Development Permit for the change of use. Businesses with valid permits and licenses in the Town of Okotoks will not be exempt from changes to the Land Use Bylaw in relation to the legalization of retail cannabis sales.

Medical Marijuana Production Facilities are currently not licensed or permitted within the Town of Okotoks.

Permit Requirements through Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission

The Town of Okotoks Development Permit and Business Licencing processes fall in alignment with federal and provincial policies, regulations, and legislation. As such, all retail cannabis stores will be required to provide proof of AGLC eligibility before a Development Permit is approved and AGLC licencing before a Business License will be issued. Updates to the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Regulation were introduced on February 16, 2018.

AGLC Policies:

  • A retail cannabis store license will not be issued to an applicant unless the business, under which activities authorized by the license will be carried out, is separate from any other business.
  • A retail cannabis license will not be issued if the premises is located within 100m of:
    • A provincial health care facility, or a boundary of the parcel of land on which the facility is located, or
    • A building containing a school or a boundary of the parcel of land on which the facility is located, or
    • A boundary of a parcel of land that is designated as a school reserve or municipal and school reserve under the Municipal Government Act.

A municipality may pass bylaws varying the distance specified above.

  • The design and construction of retail cannabis stores must meet local municipal building code and zoning requirements.
  • Drive-through windows are prohibited.
  • Signage must comply with all federal, provincial and municipal requirements.
    • Signage must be in good taste and not depict a lifestyle, endorsement, person, character or animal.
    • Signage may not promote intoxication. Terms and images such as, but not limited to, “chronic,” “stoned” or “high” are not permitted.
    • Sign(s) or identification may not include graphics which appeal to minors, show the use of cannabis, display intoxication, display or identify a cannabis product or accessory, display a price or indicate a price advantage, or display any sporting or cultural event or activity.

For more information please see the following links:


Any person who contravenes or causes, allows or permits a contravention of any provision of the Land Use Bylaw, or of a development permit, or any condition forming part of a development permit, is guilty of an offense and may be fined $1,500 for a first offense.

A development permit may be required when adding a use or changing the intensity of a use or business, such as adding retail sales to a medical clinic, or expanding the floor area of your business.

For more information regarding enforcement and fines, please refer to Land Use Bylaw Section 6.


If you have any questions regarding the above, please contact Planning Services at 403-995-2760 or click here to submit an online form for assistance.