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Cannabis store business guide

A Development Permit, Building Permit and Business Licence are required to start a Cannabis Store in Calgary. This guide walks applicants through the process to understand the requirements associated with these applications.

YOU MUST APPLY FOR A DEVELOPMENT PERMIT to have your cannabis store considered by the Development Authority. Applying for a business licence only will not put your application in the proper queue for review.

How to apply

Applications are accepted online or in person at the Planning Services Centre at Municipal Hall. If you are applying online you must use a "personal" myID account type.

If you are applying in person you will need:

Other helpful documents (not required for application):

Business definition

A cannabis store business displays, sells, or offers for sale cannabis and must have a provincial retail cannabis licence.

A cannabis store must be a stand-alone use, which means it cannot be combined with another use, such as a convenience store. However, cannabis stores can occur in a multi-tenant building or as part of a mixed-use development.

Cannabis consumption in the store is not permitted. Cannabis Stores allow for medical cannabis counselling and the ancillary retail sale or rental of cannabis-related merchandise.

Development rules

Land use districts

All businesses in Calgary require their site to have the appropriate land use that allows for the proposed business use. Each space in a building has its own specified, approved use that cannot be changed without a development permit. Cannabis-related businesses can only operate within specific land uses.

The land use districts are those proposed by Council prior to final regulations being implemented by the Federal and Provincial governments. There is a possibility that these uses could change.

Enter your proposed business address to determine which types of Cannabis businesses may operate at your location.

District Use
  • I-G
A cannabis facility may be located in this district.
  • C-N1
  • C-N2
  • C-C1
  • C-C2
  • C-COR1
  • C-COR2
  • C-COR3
  • C-R1
  • C-R2
  • C-R3
  • I-G*
  • I-E
  • I-C
  • CC-X
  • CC-COR
  • CR20-C20/R20
  • CC-ET
  • CC-EIR
  • CC-EMU
  • CC-EPR
  • MU-1
  • MU-2
A cannabis store may be located in this district.

* Only when in conjunction with a cannabis facility.
  • C-N1
  • C-COR1
  • C-R2
  • I-C
  • CR20-C20/R20
  • CC-EPR
  • C-N2
  • C-COR2
  • C-R3
  • CC-MHX
  • CC-ET
  • MU-1
  • C-C1
  • C-COR3
  • I-B
  • CC-X
  • CC-EIR
  • MU-2
  • C-C2
  • C-O
  • I-E
  • CC-COR
  • CC-EMU
A cannabis counselling business may be located in this district.
Direct Control District (DC) A Direct Control District MAY NOT allow for cannabis businesses. Please contact the Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311 for more information and to get more information on cannabis uses in Direct Control Districts.
All other districts No cannabis related businesses may be located in this land use district. A land use redesignation would be required prior to applying for permits to open any cannabis business in this location.

Separation distance requirements

The Land Use Bylaw requires separation distances designed to limit the sale of cannabis near schools and vacant school parcels, and other cannabis stores to manage potential cumulative environmental, social and aesthetic impacts, and ensure opportunities for other types of businesses to provide goods and services to communities. The separation distances can be reduced by the Development Authority, but the distance to schools only by 10%.

In December 2018, Council approved changes that add new location requirements (including separation distances) to cannabis stores on Eighth Avenue South from Macleod Trail SE to 9 Street SW. Details on these requirements can be found in the Cannabis Store Guidelines.​

The Cannabis Store Guidelines guides the Development Authority in making decisions on requests for reductions in the separation distances.

A map has been created to display the overlap of the setback distances for cannabis stores as well as provide applicants with information on areas in which a cannabis store could be situated.

Note: For Cannabis Store applications, applicants are required to provide detailed information on setback distances and measurements once their application is submitted.

Cannabis store locations

The following table outlines the specific distance requirements for cannabis stores in various land use districts. Additionally, cannabis stores cannot be located beside a liquor store.

District 150 Metre Separation Distance from property line of Schools 150 Metre Separation Distance from property line of Emergency Shelters
300 Metre Separation Distance between Cannabis Stores 100 metre Separation Distance from property line of Municipal and School Reserve and School Reserve Parcels Separation Distance Guidelines (Child Care Service, Place of Worship, Payday Loan, Pawn Shop
C-N1 Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Cannabis Store Guidelines Applicable
C-N2 Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Cannabis Store Guidelines Applicable
C-C1 Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Cannabis Store Guidelines Applicable
C-C2 Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Cannabis Store Guidelines Applicable
C-COR1 Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Cannabis Store Guidelines Applicable
C-COR2 Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Cannabis Store Guidelines Applicable
C-COR3 Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Cannabis Store Guidelines Applicable
C-R1 Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Cannabis Store Guidelines Applicable
C-R2 Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Cannabis Store Guidelines Applicable
C-R3 Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Cannabis Store Guidelines Applicable
I-G* (A discretionary use only in conjunction with a Cannabis Facility). Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Cannabis Store Guidelines Applicable
I-E Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Cannabis Store Guidelines Applicable
I-C Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Cannabis Store Guidelines Applicable
CC-X Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Cannabis Store Guidelines Applicable
CC-COR Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Cannabis Store Guidelines Applicable
CR20-C20/R20 Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Cannabis Store Guidelines Applicable
CC-ET Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Cannabis Store Guidelines Applicable
CC-EIR Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Cannabis Store Guidelines Applicable
CC-EMU Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Cannabis Store Guidelines Applicable
CC-EPR Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Cannabis Store Guidelines Applicable
MU-1 Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Cannabis Store Guidelines Applicable
MU-2 Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Maximum relaxation of 10 per cent or 15 metres to the 150 metre separation distance. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Relaxation guided by the Cannabis Store Guidelines. Cannabis Store Guidelines Applicable

Additional rules

Cannabis stores must also adhere to the following municipal rules:

  • All cannabis that is offered for sale or sold must be from a federally approved and licenced facility
  • Must be licensed by the Alberta Government (AGLC)
  • Requires a minimum of 4 motor vehicle parking stalls per 100 square metres of gross usable floor area
  • Does not require bicycle parking stalls – class 1, but does require a minimum of 1 bicycle parking stalls – class 2 per 250 square metres of gross usable floor area

Development permits

A development permit is required for all new cannabis stores to allow for the Cannabis Store use. The intake for cannabis stores includes the application for the development permit.

Each application is evaluated based on its planning merits. This type of application is a discretionary use and is subject to circulation, review, advertisement and possibly an appeal.

Note: File managers may ask applicants detailed questions about proposed plans to determine whether additional development permits would be required for exterior signs, location of doorways, renovations etc.

Building permits

A building permit may be required for cannabis stores as per provincial regulations. The information the applicant provides in the application will contain information that will help the applicant more quickly apply for a building permit when they reach that stage of the application.

The following are some examples of when a building permit might be required:

  • The space has a new use (e.g. a retail store changes to a restaurant).
  • For the secure storage room which must be built to comply with provincial cannabis licence rules.
  • Any construction is being done, including structural or partition wall changes, mechanical, plumbing, gas or electrical work.
  • The mechanical equipment needs to be upgraded to meet building code, due to a change in use (e.g. car detailing to engine repair affects ventilation rates; using a forklift in a warehouse may require additional ventilation).
  • You are the first tenant in a space.
  • There is a change in kitchen or mechanical ventilation equipment or new equipment being installed.
  • There is a change to the occupant load.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that any construction work required to adhere to provincial cannabis licencing regulations has the appropriate building permit.

Building inspections

City inspections are part of the building permit process. They are intended to ensure safety and compliance with all relevant bylaws and safety codes. The City ensures the minimum construction safety standards are met. Inspections are part of the building permit process and are included in the permit price. Your permit is not complete until your work has passed all required inspections.

Safety codes officers verify that your completed work meets safety standards and they can assist if you have encountered problems with your project. Having permits approved and completed allows future buyers to verify that your work was inspected by The City.

Contractors should book and coordinate inspections directly with The City.

Business licences

All cannabis stores require both a municipal and a provincial licence.

A City of Calgary business license is required to operate a cannabis store. This type of business would require a Cannabis Store licence type. A Cannabis Store licence does not authorize the growing, producing, testing, destroying, storing, or distribution of cannabis.

A Cannabis Store licence cannot be issued to a residential dwelling unit or any premises located in a residential land use district as described in the Land Use Bylaw or a mobile business unit.

A municipal business licence will be issued when all required municipal approvals and fees have been obtained. The Province (AGLC) requires either a development permit approval or the municipal business licence approval before they issue their provincial licence.

All Cannabis Store municipal business licences include a police information check. This process is completed by the Calgary Police Service and is initiated on the applicant’s behalf through the initial business application. Please note that previous police checks cannot be used as a substitute for this approval process.

A municipal business licence will be issued when all required municipal approvals have been granted, fees have been paid, and inspections have been completed.

Provincial business licence

Businesses who want to sell cannabis in the Province of Alberta must have a retail cannabis licence issued by the AGLC. AGLC has provided a full list of details on the AGLC application requirements.

Note: Provincial licensing applications are not administered through The City of Calgary.

Fees

Applicants should consult the following fee schedules for specific costs: