Alberta may allow private retail, province-run online sales of cannabis

The province's proposed regulations will allow for private retailers, a province-run online store and allow for up to 4 plants per home

Alberta announced their plans for managing legal cannabis today, with an age limit of 18, private retail stores and a government-run online retail option that will be in place as soon as cannabis is legal.

The proposed legislation, to be today in the legislature, An Act to Control and Regulate Cannabis, will see to add amendments to the Gaming and Liquor Act, which would be renamed the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act.

Under the proposed legislation, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission will provide oversight of the distribution of cannabis and cannabis products, and the AGLC will licence private retailers. Albertans will be able to purchase cannabis immediately following legalization from an online government store managed by the province.

The province says they are not yet sure how the AGLC will manage distribution and product tracking and are looking at all options, including managing it digitally. Cannabis producers will sell directly to the AGLC who will then sell at a markup to private retailers, as well as selling through the online system.

The province had originally said they were unsure they could properly manage age verification of online sales but now feel they can safely address this issue. Online sales will provide immediate access for all Albertans while private retail stores get established. Specifics of what the online sales system will be is not yet public.

Retailers will not be allowed to sell alcohol, tobacco or pharmaceuticals and will have to follow standardized rules across the province. Retailers are subject to criminal record checks. The province will place no limit on how many stores can open, but say they will manage the pace of applications.

Kim Capstick, Executive Director of Engagement and Outreach of the Alberta Cannabis Secretariat, emphasized at today's press conference that cannabis will only be sold in pre-packaged containers, unlike a traditional 'dispensary' setting where customers can pick from bulk product.

"One of the things that's important to note is that people see pictures of a retail environment, particularly in the US, or some of the illegal dispensaries that exist across the country, see those sort of bulk bins for the dried product. That's not what were talking about. What we're talking about is sealed products that would be moved from a production processing facility."

Cannabis producers, retail stores, others lobbying Alberta government

Albertans will be able to grow up to four cannabis plants per household and anyone under 18 caught with under five grams of cannabis will face penalties similar to those for possession of alcohol or tobacco. The federal Cannabis Act makes it a felony for anyone under 18 to possess more than five grams.

Adults will be allowed to consume or vape cannabis anywhere tobacco can be smoked. Smoking and vaping will be banned at hospitals, schools, child care facilities, near parks and other areas frequented by youth, and also in vehicles. The federal government's 30 gram public possession limit will apply, with no limit on possession in your own home.

The province has also introduced An Act to Reduce Cannabis and Alcohol Impaired Driving, which seeks to help the province address drug-impaired driving and establish zero tolerance for those on graduated licences.

The specifics of both of these Acts will be debated in the province’s legislature.

More than 60,000 Albertans participated in online surveys and more than 100 stakeholders provided their input. The input is available here.

Quebec also released their draft regulations today, and Saskatchewan provided an update on their approach.

In this article

Join the Conversation