Overview

The Alberta Cannabis Framework sets the stage for responsible cannabis use in our province and outlines our four policy priorities:

  1. keeping cannabis out of the hands of children and youth
  2. protecting safety on roads, in workplaces and in public spaces
  3. protecting public health
  4. limiting the illegal market for cannabis

The framework was developed after months of engagement with Albertans, stakeholders and partners, extensive research of other jurisdictions, and consideration of our existing liquor and tobacco laws.

Milestones

October 17, 2018

  • Cannabis is legal in Canada

Introduced fall 2017:

Established winter 2018:

  • Support regulations (PDF, 422 KB) about the sale of cannabis, including licensing criteria and other rules for private retailers.

Introduced spring 2018:

  • Bill 6: Gaming and Liquor Statutes Amendment Act was introduced on April 9, 2018 and passed on May 30, 2018. It provides the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) the tools necessary to oversee and enforce Alberta's cannabis market.

Fact sheet: Cannabis in Alberta (PDF, 109 KB)

Minimum age

You must be 18 years of age to buy or consume cannabis.

This is the same as Alberta’s minimum age for purchasing and consuming alcohol and tobacco. It is also the federal government’s proposed minimum age for legal cannabis.

A minimum age of 18 will help protect youth from health risks and will make obtaining cannabis safer.

Public education will also encourage people to use responsibly and be aware of cannabis’s health impacts.

Safeguards for cannabis sales

Albertans 18 years and older can buy cannabis products from retailers that receive their products from the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC).

The AGLC distributes cannabis similarly to the way it currently distributes alcohol.

Government-regulated distribution ensures a level playing field for all producers, and prevents small communities from being penalized for delivery costs by making sure product is shipped at the same price no matter where it’s going.

All physical stores have strict government oversight through licensing by the AGLC. The AGLC sets terms and conditions on licences, inspects retailers and addresses any violations. This ensures private cannabis retailers operate responsibly and lawfully.

Licensed retailers are the only stores that can sell cannabis. They cannot sell cannabis if they also sell alcohol, tobacco or pharmaceuticals.

New laws to keep cannabis out of the hands of young people require buyers to show ID if they appear to be under to be 25 years old. Minors are not allowed to buy cannabis or be on licensed premises, even if accompanied by an adult.

Provincial regulations establish who can own and operate a cannabis retailer. Regulations include:

  • mandatory background checks for potential retailers and workers
    • no licenses for applicants linked to organized crime, the illegal drug trade or with convictions related to offenses such as drug trafficking or violence
    • required renewal of retail licenses required at least once every 2 years
  • limiting licenses for any single person, business or organization at 15%
    • the AGLC will limit licenses each year based on existing licenses issued the previous year that are still current
    • allows smaller retailers to enter the market
    • review of the system in 5 years

Staff who work at cannabis stores must be at least 18 years of age, undergo a background check and complete mandatory AGLC training through a program called Sell Safe. This 4-6 hour course is similar to the one employees working with gaming and liquor must complete.

The regulations also establish where private cannabis stores can be located. A 100 meter buffer between cannabis retailers and schools and provincial health care facilities will help keep cannabis out of the hands of children and protect public health. Municipalities can set buffers that suit their communities through local bylaws.

Cannabis retailers may be open from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., the same as liquor stores, and are subject to extensive security requirements.

Telephone town hall

Potential cannabis retailers participated in a telephone town hall on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 to learn more about the licensing process and retail requirements.

Listen to the town hall recording

Buying cannabis

Purchasing cannabis

Albertans have two options for buying legal cannabis:

Physical stores are subject to government regulations and AGLC licensing terms, as described above.

Buyers are limited to 30 grams of cannabis per transaction, which is also the legal public possession limit. Consumer education will be embedded in the retail of cannabis, and retail outlets will display point-of-purchase signage and other informational materials to help customers make responsible choices.

Online sales and home delivery is only available through a single website operated by the AGLC at albertacannabis.org. No other online sales or delivery is allowed. This is in response to concerns raised by Albertans about the need for strict control over age verification during the sale and at time of delivery. It also gives Albertans confidence in their purchases, as there is a single online source for recreational cannabis.

Though cannabis cafes and lounges will not be permitted on October 17, 2018, the legislation also gives the authority to regulate these forms of establishments should government decide to allow them at a later date.

Taxing cannabis

Alberta collects revenue on the sale of cannabis.

The federal and provincial governments agreed to a common set of principles that would cover the first 2 years of legalization. These principles focus on coordinating cannabis taxation and revenue, and keeping cannabis prices low to curtail the illegal market.

Under these principles, tax room of $1 per gram or 10% of the producer price, whichever is greater, is shared between federal and provincial governments.

The provinces receive 75% of this tax room, and can also collect an additional tax, or equivalent, of up to 10% of the retail price.

Alberta agreed to have the federal government use the federal excise tax to collect the following amounts on the province’s behalf:

  • the province’s share of the agreed-upon tax room, which is the greater of 75 cents per gram or 7.5% of the producer price
  • an additional amount equivalent to 10% of the retail price, similar to what will be applied in other provinces, which is collected at the licensed producer level

Consuming cannabis

Albertans are allowed to consume cannabis in their homes and in some public spaces where smoking tobacco is allowed, but it is banned in vehicles.

Municipalities have the power to create additional restrictions on public use. Know your local rules before consuming.

To protect children and limit second-hand exposure, public smoking or vaping of cannabis is prohibited in the same places tobacco is restricted, plus:

  • on any hospital property, school property or child care facility property
  • in or within a prescribed distance from:
    • a playground
    • a sports or playing field
    • a skateboard or bicycle park
    • a zoo
    • an outdoor theatre
    • an outdoor pool or splash pad
  • inany motor vehicle except, those being used as temporary residences, such as parked RVs

Cannabis cannot be consumed at any cannabis retail outlet.

Provincial laws have established a number of consequences when cannabis is consumed in public or in a vehicle, including fines and other administrative penalties.

Growing cannabis

Under federal legislation, adults can grow up to 4 plants per household from seeds bought from licensed cannabis retailers.

Renters, condo-dwellers and those who live in multi-family dwellings may not be allowed to grow cannabis in their homes based on rules in rental agreements or condominium bylaws. Government will work to educate landlords, renters and condo boards on the options available to them.

Resources:

Possessing cannabis

Adults over 18 can possess up to 30 grams of cannabis in a public place, in line with the federal possession limit.

When cannabis is in a car, it must be secured in closed packaging and not within reach of any occupants.

Young people — those under the legal age of 18 — are not allowed to buy or possess any cannabis.

Youth who possess 5 grams or less will not be charged criminally (which could negatively impact their future), but will be subject to seizure of the cannabis, notification of parents or guardians, and penalties similar to those for underage possession of alcohol or tobacco.

Drug-impaired driving

Driving while impaired, whether by alcohol, cannabis or other drugs, is a serious crime and puts everyone's safety at risk.

Drug-impaired driving is still impaired driving, with the same consequences as driving while impaired by alcohol. New impaired driving laws are now in effect.

Education will also continue to be a critical part of our strategy to address drug-impaired driving.

Impairment in workplaces

Workers who are impaired on the job – whether by alcohol or drugs – are a danger to their coworkers and themselves.

Alberta already has rules and programs in place to address impairment on the job and keep workers safe, but we will continue working to improve these rules and find new ways to deal with impairment in the workplace.

This may include developing additional regulations, education or training programs.

Resource: Impairment in the workplace

Advertising and packaging cannabis

The federal government has created strict rules about advertising, labelling and packaging cannabis.

These include no promotion, packaging or labelling that could be considered appealing to young people, and ensuring that important product information is presented clearly.

Restrictions on advertising and packaging generally mirror what is in place today for tobacco. Advertising is restricted to locations where there are no minors, and there are limits on displays and in-store promotion.

Alberta will create new rules if needed to address any issues or policy gaps that arise.