Alberta’s approach to cannabis legalization

The federal government introduced legislation to legalize cannabis by Summer 2018. Alberta can decide how it will adapt to this legislation.

Important date

Alberta Cannabis Framework

The Alberta Cannabis Framework was developed following extensive public and stakeholder engagement to best achieve our 4 policy priorities for cannabis legalization in our province:

  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

An Act to Control and Regulate Cannabis passed on Nov. 30, 2017, to empower elements of the framework through legislation, which are largely in the form of amendments to the Gaming and Liquor Act.

The amendments will do 3 things:

  1. Provide authority for the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission to carry out oversight and compliance functions as well as manage the distribution of cannabis.
  2. Establish the authority to carry out public online sales, and to license privately owned and operated cannabis stores with strong oversight and provincewide rules.
  3. Establish provincial offences related to youth possession, public consumption and consumption of cannabis in vehicles.

Bill 6: The Gaming and Liquor Statutes Amendment Act was introduced on April 9, 2018 to propose additional amendments to the Gaming and Liquor Act to further prepare Alberta for the legalization of cannabis. If passed, the amendments would:

  • prohibit naming and branding cannabis retailers and products with terms and symbols that have medicinal connotations such as "therapeutic" or "medicinal"
  • increase the maximum administrative fines for infractions of the Gaming and Liquor Act and regulation form $200,000 to $1 million
  • allow a court to rely on a law enforcement officer's ability to infer that a product is cannabis based on its packaging, labeling or smell, for the purposed of offenses under this act, mirror the current practice for alcohol and tobacco
  • create an offence to enable enforcement against an owner or operator of a premises who allows smoking or vaping of cannabis where it is prohibited, similar to existing rules for alcohol and tobacco

Learn more: Alberta Cannabis Framework and legislation

Private retail

Updates to the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Regulation was introduced on Feb. 16, 2018, that will govern how private retail will operate, including:

  • who can own cannabis stores
  • where they can be located
  • staff requirements
  • safety and security requirements
  • other operational details

The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) will carry out licensing, oversight and compliance functions for private cannabis retail, as well as manage the distribution of cannabis.

Details on the process and requirements for applying to be a cannabis retailer are now available. The AGLC began accepting applications on Mar. 6, 2018.

Learn more: AGLC private retail process and requirements

Telephone town hall

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

Listen to the town hall recording

What we heard

From June 2 to Oct. 27, 2017, we held extensive public and stakeholder engagement so Albertans could share their thoughts, questions, expertise and ideas about cannabis.

More than 60,000 Albertans shared their input through two online surveys and in hundreds of written submissions. We also conducted additional public opinion research to ensure we heard from people across the province.

After Bill 26 was released in November, stakeholder engagement sessions were held to discuss regulatory aspects of the legislation and discuss next steps.

Learn more: What we heard


  • April 13, 2017

    Introduction of federal cannabis legislation

  • June 2 - July 31, 2017

    Completed public and stakeholder engagement on Alberta's approach to cannabis legalization

  • August - September 2017

    Reviewed engagement findings and development of the Alberta Cannabis Framework

  • Fall 2017

    Released draft of the Alberta Cannabis Framework for further public and stakeholder input, and to gather more input on Alberta's retail options

    Passed An Act to Control and Regulate Cannabis on Nov. 30, 2017

    Passed An Act to Reduce Cannabis and Alcohol Impaired Driving on Nov. 29, 2017

  • Winter 2018

    Confirm the approach outlined in the Alberta Cannabis Framework and introduce legislation to enable aspects of the framework

    AGLC began accepting applications for cannabis retail licenses on Mar. 6, 2018

    Introduced Bill 6: The Gaming and Liquor Statutes Amendment Act on April 9, 2018

  • Summer 2018

    Target date for cannabis to be legal in Canada

Contact us

Alberta Cannabis Secretariat