Alberta announces rules to prevent concentration of ownership in retail cannabis sector

The NDP government in Alberta has provided more details regarding the regulation of storefront cannabis operations. Today, Justice Minister Kathleen

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The NDP government in Alberta has provided more details regarding the regulation of storefront cannabis operations.

Today, Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley declared that the province will limit the number of licences anyone can hold when cannabis is legalized.

‘This is a new market for Alberta,’ she told reporters. ‘So until we have a better idea of how the market will work, the regulations are intended to ensure that no one person, group, or organization can hold more than 15 percent of the licences in the future.’

Ganley added that this limit will be revisited at some point to determine if it needs to be adjusted.

Alberta will also require any retail-store licence applicants to undergo a mandatory background check and submit financial data about their proposed plans.

‘It’s important that we make sure the illegal market doesn’t seep into the legal one,’ the minister said. ‘Convictions such as trafficking or producing illegal drugs or associations to organized crime or violence will make an applicant ineligible for a retail licence.’

Alberta intends to licence about 250 retail cannabis stores in the first year after legalization.

The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission will be responsible for wholesale and distribution of legal cannabis, online sales, and licensing store applicants and store employees.

Application forms for prospective retailers have been posted on the Alberta Gaming and Control Commission website.

The provincial regulator will begin accepting completed application forms for retail licences on March 6.

After legalization occurs, all employees in the Alberta retail cannabis sector will also have to be licensed.

The AGLC’s vice president of regulatory services, Dave Barry, said at the same news conference that workers must complete mandatory online training, which takes four to six hours.

Prospective employees must also consent to a criminal background check and once the process is completed, they will receive a training certification number enabling them to work in retail cannabis stores.

‘We are going to create a world-class retail cannabis industry, as we have done with liquor,’ Barry declared.

Alberta will not allow cannabis to be sold alongside liquor, pharmaceuticals, and tobacco products.

In addition, stores must be at least 100 metres from schools and provincial health-care facilities, though municipalities will have authority to adjust buffer zones.

The hours of operation of cannabis stores will mirror those of liquor stores, which means they could remain open from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.

However, according to Ganley, ‘municipalities have the ability to reduce these hours and decide on shorter hours of operation if that best suits their communities.’

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