Commonly asked questions

Retail Cannabis in Alberta – Regulatory Requirements - May 1, 2018

Retail cannabis licence

What are the first steps in getting a retail cannabis licence?

The first step is to download a retail cannabis licence application from aglc.ca/cannabis, then contact your municipality to determine if there are any applicable by-laws or restrictions regarding retail cannabis stores.

Can I pay all application fees and the due diligence deposit with a single cheque?

No, the $3,000 due diligence deposit must be paid with a separate cheque. The $400 application fee and $700 annual licensing fee can be combined into one payment.

What is included in the due diligence process?

The due diligence process is comprehensive and includes, but is not limited to:

  • an interview
  • financial and non-financial investigative analysis inquiries, which may include liaising with law enforcement agencies and other regulatory bodies
  • conducting enhanced indices searches including credit, litigation, bankruptcy and open source searches
  • any other inquires deemed to be necessary

How many retail cannabis licences will be granted?

There is no cap on the total number of retail licences; however, no person(s) or entity can hold more than 15 per cent of retail cannabis licences in the province.

For example, if 250 retail cannabis stores open in the first year, based on the 15 per cent, no person(s) or entity could own more than 37 retail cannabis stores.

The maximum number of licences a person(s) or entity can hold will be reviewed and may be adjusted according to the actual number of existing licences in July 2019.

Is Alberta allowing for vertical integration in the cannabis industry?

The Alberta model has been designed with a number of safeguards in place to prevent monopolies and price fixing, including:

  • Licensed producers that wish to open a retail store must establish that store as a separate company (from any other business of the applicant).
  • Retail locations will be specialized stores.
  • All retailers are subject to legislation and requirements around anti-competition, trade-practice and inducements.
  • The AGLC will have the authority to establish a minimum price for retail should circumstances require it.
  • No person(s) or entity can hold more than 15 per cent of retail cannabis licences in the province.

For example, a licensed producer who also owned a retail store would sell their product to the AGLC and then purchase it back to supply their retail store.  

Can a business or person weigh in on whether a retail cannabis store can open in its neighbourhood?

Many municipalities have a process that allows for public input on the licensing of businesses. For more information, please contact your local municipality.

What other products can I carry in my retail store other than cannabis? What kinds of accessories can a retail cannabis store sell?

Retail cannabis stores will be permitted to sell cannabis products and cannabis accessories that promote responsible use. Details regarding accessories that can carried in a retail cannabis store are currently being developed.

What business relationships are prohibited?

The AGLC is responsible for ensuring that relationships among cannabis suppliers, cannabis representatives and cannabis licensees are competitive in nature. Cannabis suppliers or representatives are prohibited from providing any services, items or activities to a cannabis licensee that could directly benefit the licensee. Cannabis licensees are prohibited from requesting any such inducements from cannabis suppliers or representatives. Specific policy on prohibited inducements and benefits can be found under section 6.3 of the Retail Cannabis Store Handbook.  

What are some examples of inducements?

Inducements include:  money, free products, volume discounts, paid vacations, furniture, equipment, services (such as painting or decorating), items considered essential to the licensee’s operation, staff incentives, paid entertainment, paid advertising, or any other thing prohibited under the Gaming and Liquor Act, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, or AGLC policy.

How much cannabis product can I have in my store at one time?

Currently there is no limit to the amount of stock a retailer can have onsite.

Will cannabis retailers be able to sell edibles or will the product be strictly prepackaged cannabis?

At this time, the federal government is only allowing the sale of prepackaged dried cannabis and cannabis oil products.

Can a cannabis retailer provide door-to-door delivery?

No, retailers will not be permitted to deliver cannabis.

Will potential customers be able to sample products in a retail cannabis store?

No, the sampling of cannabis products will not be permitted within a retail cannabis store.

Can I consume cannabis in a retail cannabis store?

No, the use and/or consumption of cannabis will not be permitted within a retail cannabis store.

Will children be able to enter the retail cannabis store?

No person under the age of 18 will be permitted in a retail cannabis store.

Will potential cannabis retailers be able to partner with a tobacco retailer who already has a retail space to sell accessories and cannabis out of that store?

No, cannabis cannot be sold in a location that sells tobacco.

What will be the hours of operation for retail cannabis stores?

Hours for a retail cannabis store will be the same as liquor stores, 10 a.m. – 2 a.m. However, municipalities will have the ability to reduce the hours should they decide it will better serve their community.

What are the training requirements for retail cannabis licensees and their employees?

Business owners, associates and key persons will be required to undergo a comprehensive due diligence process. They will also be required to successfully complete the AGLC’s SellSafe Cannabis Staff Training program.

Employees will also be required to successfully complete the AGLC’s mandatory SellSafe Cannabis Staff Training program and submit a criminal record check.

Who can object to a licence application?

Anyone can submit an objection to a proposed licence during the 21 day objection period that it is posted online. The AGLC does not regulate factors that fall under the responsibility of the municipality. For a list of these factors visit https://aglc.ca/cannabis/retail-cannabis-store-licences/retail-cannabis-licensing-objections.

Education & Public Awareness

What is the AGLC doing to prevent minors from accessing cannabis?

Age-verification processes will be established for online sales both at the time of purchase and delivery.

All retail cannabis workers must successfully complete the AGLC's SellSafe Cannabis Staff Training program. SellSafe helps workers understand how to sell cannabis responsibly according to law and in a way that keeps customers and others safe from cannabis-related harms.

The AGLC’s Inspections program will include information for the licensee on checking for suitable identification, conducting checks to ensure the licensee requests ID from anyone who appears under 25 and investigating all complaints against a licensee.

Where can Albertans go to get more information regarding cannabis?

The AGLC is developing a provincewide public awareness education program regarding the responsible use of cannabis, which will be launched prior to the legalization of cannabis. In the meantime, please visit Canada.ca/Cannabis, Alberta.ca/Cannabis and Aglc.ca/Cannabis for the most up-to-date information.

Enforcement

What level of enforcement will the AGLC have regarding legal cannabis in Alberta?

The AGLC will enforce the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act, Gaming Liquor and Cannabis Regulation and AGLC Board policies relating to the regulated wholesale, distribution and online sales of retail cannabis in Alberta. 

What will the fines/penalties be if a retailer is caught selling cannabis to someone under 18?

Anyone selling or providing cannabis to a minor can be charged with a criminal offence.

Consumers

How much will retail cannabis cost?

As with liquor, the AGLC sets the wholesale price while retailers set the retail price. This does mean that the AGLC will set the retail price for online sales and we will provide that information once it is available.

Can I make multiple cannabis purchases on the same day?

Yes, multiple retail and online purchases can be made with a maximum of 30 grams per single transaction; however, persons can only legally have 30 grams in their possession while in public at any time.

Can I grow my own cannabis at home?

Adults will be permitted to grow a maximum of four plants per household. This will be regulated by enforcement agencies and municipalities.

What types of cannabis products will be available for purchase from the AGLC?

After legalization, cannabis products available for purchase from the AGLC will include: dried flower, milled flower, pre-rolls, oils, capsules and seeds. For initial launch, the AGLC has placed a strategic focus on smaller package sizes to meet consumer demand for product trial. As such, the following package sizes will initially be available by product format:

Package sizes.JPG

Online cannabis sales

Why is the AGLC operating the government’s online cannabis store?

Because of the AGLC’s extensive experience as the trusted regulator of gaming and liquor in Alberta, the Government of Alberta designated the AGLC with the operation of online cannabis sales.

The AGLC online option will be the only legal online purchasing option. Consumers will not be able to buy online directly from retailers or licensed producers.

This is in response to concerns raised by Albertans about the need for comprehensive age-verification processes during the initial sale and at time of delivery. It will also give Albertans confidence in their purchases, as there will be a single online source for retail cannabis in the province.

Will the online store be ready as soon as cannabis is legalized?

The AGLC is working towards the online store launch to coincide with cannabis legalization in 2018.

How will orders be delivered?

A delivery method has yet to be determined but we will provide that information once it is available.

How much revenue is expected in the first year? Where will it go?

A revenue model has yet to be determined. We will provide that information once it is available.

Will the online store be in direct competition with private retail stores?

The online store will offer access to markets that won’t be serviced by retail stores, an alternative to consumers who do not want to shop at a retail location, as well as an age-verification process to keep retail cannabis out of the hands of minors.

How will online sales work?

Work is underway to develop the secure online e-commerce system. A comprehensive online age-verification process will be utilized at both the point of purchase and delivery stages of cannabis transactions.

OnX Enterprise Solutions was awarded a three year contract to develop the online cannabis sales platform, which will be run by the AGLC.

More information will be available as details are confirmed.

Can I make multiple cannabis purchases on the same day?

Multiple retail purchases can be made; however, there is a limit of 30 grams per transaction. The personal possession limit is also 30 grams.

How much will retail cannabis cost?

As with liquor, the AGLC sets the wholesale price while retailers set the retail price. This does mean that the AGLC will set the retail price for online sales and we will provide that information once it is available.

Distribution

Who regulates recreational cannabis products?

Health Canada is responsible for the regulatory enforcement of the Cannabis Act, Cannabis Regulation and Federal Guidance Documents relating to the production, packaging, labeling, quality and advertising of all cannabis products for sale in Canada.

The AGLC will enforce the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act, Gaming Liquor and Cannabis Regulation and AGLC Board policies relating to the regulated wholesale, distribution and online sales of retail cannabis in Alberta.

The AGLC will ensure only regulated and approved cannabis products are for sale at licensed premises and will work with enforcement agencies in regards to unapproved cannabis products.

Will foreign cannabis producers be able to supply the Canadian market?

No, only Health Canada approved licensed producers in Canada can supply cannabis product.

How will the AGLC allocate the distribution of cannabis? Will the major city centres get preference over the rural locations?

The AGLC will be responsible for the wholesale and distribution of retail cannabis products, ensuring the online system and licensed private retailers meet the regulatory compliance guidelines for cannabis. The AGLC will purchase licensed product from federally licensed producers and distribute it to licensed private retailers and Albertans who purchase cannabis products through the online store. The distribution system will be similar to the system Alberta currently has in place for alcohol. There will not be preferential distribution based on location.

Will there be enough cannabis to supply the Alberta retail market?

The AGLC is in the process of securing product for the province of Alberta.

How much stock do you estimate will be needed to supply retailers and the online store?

The amount of cannabis required will be dependent on the number of consumers accessing the legal market through retail locations or online store. As the market evolves, the AGLC will continue to negotiate with federally licensed producers to secure product required to meet demand.

Where will the AGLC warehouse cannabis products?

The AGLC is currently exploring a variety of warehousing options.

How will cannabis products in the supply chain be tracked?

Cannabis products will be tracked from the licensed producer to the time of sale in the retail or online sales environment.