COVID-19: Alberta declares cannabis businesses “essential”

Cannabis is big business in the province

Oleksii Liskonih / iStock / Getty Images Plus

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Last week CannCentral reported that British Columbia had declared cannabis producers and retailers to be “essential services”, a designation that would allow them to keep operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. (B.C. joined Ontario and Quebec, which had already deemed such businesses essential.)

Another Canadian province has followed suit. The government of Alberta has included cannabis operations in its list of essential services under the heading “Retail”, noting that “liquor and cannabis retail outlets, manufacturers and producers as well as warehousers, distributors and AGLC [Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission] operations” would be allowed to remain open.

Cannabis is big business in the province. In January 2019, the Calgary Herald reported that Alberta was home to more than a third of all pot shops in Canada. (The current number of licensed shops is 436, according to the AGLC.) According to Statistics Canada, retail sales at cannabis stores in Alberta in the first year of legalization (between October 2018 and September 2019) totalled $195,740—putting Alberta second only to the much more populous province of Ontario, where sales totalled $216,807.

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