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Cannabis legalization engagement and research

In late 2016, The City started developing its regulations around legalized cannabis. Public engagement and research have played an important role in every regulation we have set, including where cannabis stores should be located and where people should be allowed to consume cannabis.

From November 2017 – January 2018, we carried out extensive research and public engagement that helped to inform the creation of the Cannabis Consumption Bylaw and amendments to the Land Use Bylaw and Business Licence Bylaw (to allow for cannabis stores). The results of this research and engagement are available below.

In August and September 2018, we held public engagement to hear Calgarians’ feedback on four proposed designated cannabis consumption areas in Ward 9. In September 2018, The City announced that it would not continue to the approval stage for the four proposed areas. The decision was made after careful consideration of the feedback given to us by more than 1,800 Calgarians who gave us feedback online and at sounding boards located in the proposed locations. The results of this public engagement will be available here shortly.


In November 2017, we hosted three targeted stakeholder workshops to receive public input on rules and regulations around the legalization of recreational cannabis. We also hosted an online survey from November 20, 2017 – December 10, 2017.

Engagement was open to all participants who are likely to be impacted, influenced, and have interest in the topic of the legalization of cannabis.

Legalized cannabis received the highest volume of citizen input of all our engagement efforts in 2017. The online survey had more than 45,000 visits and more than 15,000 contributions.

Engagement results revealed the following general citizen opinions:

  • Most participants strongly support the legalization of recreational cannabis.
  • Most participants think public use of cannabis should be the same or more restrictive than provincial liquor laws and also the same or more restrictive than The City’s Smoking Bylaw.
  • Primarily commercial areas, business districts, downtown, inner city, more densely populated neighbourhoods or industrial areas were preferred for retail sale locations over residential neighbourhoods.
  • Many participants think that cannabis stores should not be located near where children are located or congregate (Examples: schools, daycares, malls and parks).
  • Most participants agreed that if a business fails to comply with bylaws, fines, notices and closure should be considered.
  • Some participants had concerns about growing cannabis in rental units and multi-family units due to potential damages and odours, and felt that condo boards and landlords can include additional restrictions on leases, rental agreements and in condo bylaws to manage residential growing.
​​Read a complete overview of engagement results on legalized recreational cannabis.​​​



The City of Calgary commissioned a third party to conduct research to help us better understand citizen attitudes about the legalization of recreational cannabis.

In November 2017, 1,002 Calgarians ages 18 and older took part in a telephone survey. Focus groups and in-depth interviews also took place in December 2017 and January 2018.

The telephone survey was conducted with a randomly selected sample of Calgarians who do not necessarliy have an existing interest in the topic of cannabis.

The focus groups and in-depth interviews were conducted with distinct groups of specific types of citizens and business representatives in Calgary who do have a particular attitude towards, or interest in, the topic of cannabis.

The research results revealed the following general citizen opinions:

  • 48% of Calgarians are tolerant of legalizing recreational cannabis.
  • One in four Calgarians have said they will consume or potentially consume cannabis when it is legal.
  • 55% of respondents think public use of cannabis should mirror the rules for consuming alcohol. 32% of respondents said the rules should be more like those around smoking tobacco or vaping in public.
  • Most people think that cannabis retailers should be located at a minimum distance from schools, playgrounds, vulnerable populations, and other cannabis retailers.
  • Cannabis consumers acknowledged that odour of the plants may be an issue when it comes to home growing, and that ventilation and inspection requirements are expected. Some expressed that an outright ban on growing plants in multi-family residences is expected.
​​Read a complete overview of research results on legalized recreational cannabis. ​​Read a summary of research results on legalized recreational cannabis. ​​​