Commonly asked questions

Retail Cannabis in Alberta – Regulatory Requirements - February 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.

How much does it cost to submit an application for a retail cannabis licence? Is it refundable?

A non-refundable fee of $400 is required along with a $700 annual licencing fee and a $3,000 due diligence deposit. The deposit is based on a cost recovery basis. All investigative costs including time and expenses (travel/search fees) will be at the Applicant’s expense.

There is no guarantee an application will be approved.

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 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

What information do I need in order to submit a retail cannabis licence application?

Details can be found in our retail cannabis licences section at aglc.ca.

How long will it take to get a response regarding my retail cannabis store licence application?

Due to the in-depth process required to ensure that only reputable persons are granted a licence, the time required to process an application will vary on a case-by-case basis. Applicants should expect an approximate processing time of a minimum of two to a maximum of four months. More details can be found on our retail cannabis licences section.

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) 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.

Will I need to comply with municipal and provincial licensing requirements to obtain a retail cannabis licences?

Applicants will be required to comply with all municipal, provincial and federal legislation. 

Will the public get to see who has applied for a retail cannabis licence?

Yes, all pending applications will be posted on online at AGLC.ca for 21 days.

What are the requirements to become a qualified cannabis worker?

All prospective cannabis workers must successfully complete the AGLC’s online SellSafe Cannabis Staff Training program. Once certified, applicants are required to submit their application along with their SellSafe registration number and criminal record check. SellSafe training will be available online in spring 2018.

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.

Where can I have my retail cannabis store?

There will be a 100 metre buffer (roughly a city block) between provincial health care facilities, schools and municipal school reserves. Municipalities will have the ability to reduce or increase the buffer should they decide it will better serve their community.

The Government of Alberta has also established that co-location of cannabis products will not be permitted with pharmaceuticals, tobacco or alcohol.

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.

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

SellSafe training will be available in spring 2018.

What security measures are required in a retail cannabis store?

Retail locations will be required to have extensive security systems with alarms and video surveillance. For detailed information on security system requirements, please visit the retail cannabis store handbook section.

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.

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 tasked 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 a 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 summer 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, offer an alternative to consumers who do not want to shop at a retail location, as well as offer 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.

The AGLC posted a Request for Proposal on February 1, 2018 for an e-commerce solution for the online sale of legalized cannabis. The documents for participation were posted to the Alberta Purchasing Connection website with the request closing on February 12, 2018.

More information will be available as details are confirmed.

How much will it cost to establish the online store?

The cost of the store will be dependent upon the e-commerce solution that is selected through the RFP process.

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 through a Request for Expression of Interest (EOI) from federally licensed producers that is currently in market. Information gathered from this EOI will help to determine how much product will be available for purchase for the Alberta market.

The documents for participation were posted to the Alberta Purchasing Connection website with the request closing on February 12, 2018. More information will be available as details are confirmed.

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.

Will the AGLC purchase cannabis from licensed BC producers?

The process of securing product is based on a standardized and equitable process that requires producers to meet all licensing criteria as established by Health Canada, as well as meet the needs of the Alberta marketplace.

Where will the AGLC warehouse cannabis products?

The AGLC is 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.