Cannabis Legalization Framework in Alberta
It’s been a busy week for cannabis legalization in Canada. Today the province of Quebec provided more details on their previously announced framework. Only a few days ago, Manitoba announced their own framework, which is more favourable to large retail chains than small independent stores.
Today, however, the Province of Alberta has announced their own retail and distribution framework for adult-use (aka recreational) cannabis sales in the province. The major news is that Alberta will license private independent stores to sell cannabis – not only is this a “first” for Canada, but in a way it’s the first major market to completely legalize retail cannabis sales.
Top Line Summary
The Alberta Government announced today under Bill 26 (An Act To Control And Regulate Cannabis) that online sales of adult-use cannabis would only be sold through a government online platform. However, they will be licensing individual retail stores to sell adult-use cannabis, through the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission.
A licence is required for each retail location. The retail licensing requirements are not yet announced, but Bill 26 suggests at minimum there will be record keeping and security requirements. There will also be no co-selling of other types of products – only cannabis. This means no cannabis paraphernalia, vaporizers, snacks, magazines, etc. It is not yet known who might be ineligible for a pot retail licence, but the press release suggested a “background check” would be required.
It should be especially noted that the retail pricing of cannabis products will be pre-determined, where there will be no price discrepancies between licensed stores for the same SKU’s. There are also provisions in the Bill to prohibit special (private) agreements between licensed producers and retailers with regards to sales and promotion. Reading between the lines, LP’s selling their product in Alberta wouldn’t be able to have any formal agreements for exclusivity with any retail stores (or chains of stores) – meaning that the retailers will ultimately be the drivers behind which products they want to sell, not the producers.
At this time, it is not yet decided what policies or rules would be in place (and from which levels of government) surrounding the zoning or location requirements for such brick/mortar stores. However, Alberta has confirmed that they are not capping the number of retail licences at this time. This will be very welcome news for entrepreneurs looking to open a “dispensary” in Alberta. They communicated that they will start accepting applications for retail licensing in the new year (suggesting after Jan 1).
Vaping lounges and cannabis café’s will not be permitted at this time, though they seem open to licensing these kinds of facilities in the future (depending on where the feds land on edibles).
It should be expressly noted, however, that the cannabis legalization framework announcement today is with regard to adult-use (aka recreational) cannabis, not medical cannabis. Medical cannabis retail sales have yet to be fleshed out, while online medical retail sales are expected to continue via the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). Cannabis Compliance Inc is the premier consulting firm in Canada for licensing facilities under the ACMPR.
In late September, Alberta announced their framework for cannabis regulation and provided a great deal of insight into their plans. The one major component that they had not decided yet, however, was how distribution and retail would be managed. Alberta went to its municipalities and stakeholders for input on the best framework.
The September announcement included policies around minimum age requirements, consumption, personal production and drug-impaired driving. For example, the minimum age for purchasing cannabis was set at 18, and Albertans could purchase up to 30 grams per purchase. Retailers already selling tobacco, alcohol or pharmaceuticals, would not be permitted to also sell cannabis.
Also notable in the earlier policy announcements, was that cananbis consumption would not be permitted in vehicles, also neither in areas frequented by children (e.g., hospitals, school properties, etc) similar to tobacco laws.
A few days ago a bill was introduced in the Alberta Legislature to provide parallel penalties for cannabis impaired driving, similar to the new proposals for alcohol-impaired driving.
Cannabis Compliance is ready to prepare the licence application for cannabis retail sales in Alberta – Contact Us today to talk to us about how we can help.