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.
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:
- keeping cannabis out of the hands of children and youth
- protecting safety on roads, in workplaces and in public spaces
- protecting public health
- 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:
- Provide authority for the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission to carry out oversight and compliance functions as well as manage the distribution of cannabis.
- Establish the authority to carry out public online sales, and to license privately owned and operated cannabis stores with strong oversight and provincewide rules.
- 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
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.
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.
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.
Alberta Cannabis Secretariat
- Updating legislation to prepare for legal cannabis (April 9, 2018)
- Public safety focus of legal cannabis regulations (Feb. 16, 2018)
- Proposed cannabis legislation focuses on safety (Nov. 16, 2017)
- Alberta to bolster drug-impaired driving laws (Nov. 14, 2017)
- Draft cannabis framework: last chance for input (Oct. 20, 2017)
- Proposed Alberta Cannabis Framework released (Oct. 4, 2017)
- Still time to have your say on cannabis legalization (July 20, 2017)
- Have your say on cannabis legalization (June 2, 2017)
- Minister Kathleen Ganley responds to federal legislation (April 13, 2017)
- Minister travels to Colorado to research cannabis policies (Oct. 18, 2016)