As provinces move towards establishing their own rules and regulations for legal cannabis, stakeholders are busy lobbying the government for their place in the future industry.
In Alberta, several companies are looking to discuss their thoughts with the government, especially the Alberta Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General, the ministry responsible for legalization in the province.
Ontario-based Emblem Cannabis is advocating for a ‘private marijuana sector’ and interested in economic development opportunities as a potential licenced producer in the province.
Another company, Fire & Flower, with an address listed in Toronto, is also interested in advocating for a private model for marijuana retail for Alberta. Fire & Flower describe themselves as a developing corporation that is going through the rigorous process of marketing and brand development in the face of federal legislation.
An Alberta association, Construction Labour Relations (CLR) is lobbying the provincial government to get clarification on employers' ability to use testing protocols as part of the solution to ensuring workplaces safety in the wake of legalization. CLR is an employers' association representing construction companies in collective bargaining with the Building Trades Unions, collective agreement administration, labour law matters, and joint initiatives with other industry stakeholders.
A late stage LP applicant, Amber Canada Inc. says they plan to inform the Alberta Government of the merits of considering a socially-responsible cannabis retail model in partnership with the private sector, drawing on the company's experience in healthcare, government, food and beverage, retail and franchising, finance, and bio-tech.
Another group is Legalize Private Retail, made up of 420 Clinic in Calgary, Aurora Cannabis, Liquor Stores N.A. in Edmonton and Smokers Corner in Calgary. The groups says they want to provide information to the Government of Alberta in support of a private retail model.
Cam Battley, the Executive Vice President of Aurora, says the aim of the group is to try and promote the idea that a private retail system will be better for the province and for consumers.
“We approach this from different complementary perspectives. We each have different strengths and different perspectives, but we’ve got a common vision, and that’s really particularly useful. You’ve got an education clinic, you’ve got a licenced producer, you’ve got a liquor department, a vape shop—we all have different perspectives and strengths we bring to the table.
“What we’re doing is we’re advocating for a private retail model in Alberta that will promote and protect public safety and take the risk and the cost out of the government's hands. We think that the private model is superior for Alberta because it relieves the government of the cost and the risk associated with this and lets the market take care of the costs and risk.”
Ryan Kaye, VP of Operations at 420 Clinic says he sees a private retail model providing more consumer options.
"Independently owned retail cannabis stores would create competition, which would increase the variety of cannabis products available to consumers," says Kaye. "Retailers would quickly specialize, in order to best service their clientele. Some would focus on price point, some would focus on providing the most possible variety, and some would provide a high end concierge level of personalized service. A government model would not provide this level of diversity which Albertans expect."
Battley says he is confident Alberta won’t follow the ‘Ontario model’ of a government monopoly on sales, and will work to integrate the private sector, especially because it will save the province money and allow for a more rapid implementation. By integrating those already operating in the cannabis space, he says Alberta will have a much better chance at an effective legalization system than a province like Ontario.
“I don’t think the government can deliver the kind of customer experience that the private sector can—and that it’s known for. What we want is something very different from the Ontario model, where they’ve basically boxed out everybody from the cannabis community. That strikes me as really unsound.
“Those are the people that you want advising consumers: the people with the knowledge and expertise in respect to the plant. And this is an outstanding opportunity to bring these people into the legal system and embrace them.
“The beauty of this is its simplicity and its speed,” continues Battley. “It would happen very quickly. All the government needs to do really is set those rules and regulations and let the private sector, the free market, manage it, and then enforce those regulations.”
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.