Alberta will not sell weed online — at least not at first

The province announced its draft plan for recreational cannabis sales on Wednesday
October 4, 2017, 1:16pm

Alberta announced on Wednesday its plans to sell recreational cannabis through stores overseen by the province’s alcohol and gaming commission. The minimum legal age to buy and consume cannabis will be set at 18 years old, if the plan is accepted.

Provincial justice minister Kathleen Ganley unveiled the plan at a press conference, and emphasized that the proposed framework is a draft that Albertans can provide feedback on until the end of October.

“We know this is a system that will evolve overtime and we owe it to Albertans to get it right,” Ganley said.

New Brunswick announced earlier this month that it would create a new crown corporation to sell recreational weed

The proposed legal cannabis storefronts will not be allowed to sell alcohol, tobacco or pharmaceuticals, and adults may purchase only 30 grams at a time. The product may be consumed in private homes and in “some public spaces,” although specialized cannabis lounges and cafés will be banned at first.

Ganley said that the province has yet to decide whether the stores will be run by the government, privately, or a combination of the two. Unlike Ontario’s proposed framework, Alberta will not allow online sales at first.

Ganley also explained that the province plans to limit public possession of cannabis among adults at 30 grams, which is in line with the federal government’s proposed legislation on the matter.

Formal legislation will be tabled in the coming months, following more public consultations.

Many dispensary owners in Ontario have vowed to fight to stay open in the name of access for medical patients and the rights of small business owners.

Alberta is the latest province to reveal its approach to legalization as provincial and territorial governments scramble to prepare for the recreational market set to open by next summer.

Ontario was the first province to announce its proposal for the distribution of legal cannabis in September. The province wants the set the minimum age for buying and consuming cannabis at 19, and the product will be sold through a new crown corporation overseen by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). By next summer, the government plans to open 40 cannabis storefronts, and another 110 by 2020.

The province’s attorney general declared that all illegal dispensaries operating in the Ontario will be shuttered in the meantime. In spite of police raids that have been taking place for more than a year, many dispensary owners in Ontario have vowed to fight to stay open in the name of access for medical patients and the rights of small business owners.

New Brunswick announced earlier this month that it would create a new crown corporation to sell recreational weed; it has inked a deal with two government-approved medical cannabis companies to supply the storefronts. Further details on those storefronts are expected to be discussed at the legislature in the coming months.

“We have, in some parts of the Lower Mainland, more dispensaries than we do Starbucks.”

British Columbia, known for its progressive approaches to cannabis and other drugs, has yet to announce its legal cannabis framework. Premier John Horgan hinted again on Tuesday that dispensaries currently operating across the province could play a role in the future recreational market.

“We are well-advanced in terms of the retail elements,” Horgan told reporters. “We have, in some parts of the Lower Mainland, more dispensaries than we do Starbucks.”

Quebec media outlets reported last week that the province plans to set the minimum legal cannabis age at 18, and sell the substance through stores overseen by the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ), the government’s exclusive vendor for hard liquor.

The province is expected to table legislation on the matter this fall.