On November 16, 2017, the Government of Alberta introduced Bill 26, An Act to Control and Regulate Cannabis (Bill), which contains the proposed regulatory framework for recreational cannabis sales in Alberta. The Bill seeks to amend the Gaming and Liquor Act (GLA) to govern the purchase, distribution, sale and consumption of recreational cannabis in the province and proposes a hybrid retail model for recreational cannabis sales.
The Bill confirms that the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) will be responsible for managing oversight and compliance functions for the provincial cannabis industry, including wholesaling, distribution and licensing. Federally licensed producers (Cannabis Suppliers) will be required to sell cannabis directly to the AGLC, which will then distribute cannabis to licensed private retailers (Licensees) for sale to the public. Alberta’s proposed cannabis framework is substantially similar to the regime for retail liquor sales with the exception of online sales, which are to be conducted exclusively by the province. Although Alberta has indicated that it will restrict online purchases from other provinces, the outcome of the R. v. Comeau appeal discussed in our September 2017 Blakes Bulletin: How the Comeau Decision May Affect Inter-Provincial Distribution of Cannabis may affect the enforceability of such prohibition.
Other notable proposals in the Bill include:
- Changing the title of the GLA to the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act
- Prohibiting the sale of cannabis in locations where alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceuticals or any other item is sold except cannabis accessories and certain prescribed items
- Requiring the AGLC to treat all Licensees of the same class equally in respect of cannabis pricing at any one time
- Prohibiting commission-based sales of cannabis and initially prohibiting promotional agreements between Cannabis Suppliers and Licensees
- Requiring that any person acting as a sales representative of a Cannabis Supplier be registered with the AGLC
- Authorizing the AGLC to make policies for the advertising and promotion of cannabis
- Prohibiting the transportation of cannabis in a vehicle unless such cannabis is in closed packaging and is out of reach of the driver and other occupants of the vehicle
- Prohibiting the smoking or vaping of cannabis in the same places where the smoking of tobacco is prohibited, including bars and restaurants and also within prescribed distances from schools, daycares, hospitals, pools and other places frequented by children
- Imposing the same duties under the new GLA on the directors, officers, employees or agents in charge of licensed premises as on the corporate Licensee
- Allowing an AGLC inspector to review and temporarily remove any records, documents, books of account and receipts relating to cannabis, a cannabis licence or licensed premises in the course of an inspection.
For more information on this matter, please see our October 2017 Blakes Bulletin: Alberta Unveils Cannabis Distribution Plans.