Alberta Seeks Public Opinion on Where Pot Should be Sold

As Canada prepares to legalize the recreational use of marijuana on July 1, 2018, we will be hearing more and more about how each province and territory plans to navigate the, dare we say, greener pastures.

On Wednesday, October 4, the Alberta Government put forth the Proposed Alberta Cannabis Framework. The government describes this plan as a “draft” that will encourage “further public and stakeholder input.” The final framework will be due this winter, ahead of introducing legislation.

One interesting aspect of this proposal is that Alberta hasn’t committed to the biggest part of the marijuana retail strategy: who will own and operate the shops in which pot could be purchased?

As you might recall, the plan in Ontario is for marijuana to be sold through standalone stores run by those at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). At this point, Alberta is seeking public input on whether their pot stops should be government owned and operated, or run by licensed retailers.

By going with the government-controlled option the province explains it “would have greater oversight and more control of how the legal market is established.”

On the other side of the coin, the government could “license and regulate private retailers. Alberta has extensive experience with this approach, as it’s consistent with how alcohol is sold in Alberta. It’s also how beer and wine are sold in some other provinces.”

The pros and cons for both options – presented by the province – vary and will largely be viewed quite differently depending on which side of the political sphere, or marijuana legalization debate, you stand on.

One stated downside for going with government control could be the “up-front costs to government, which may or may not be recoverable depending on how the legal market develops.” An upside, believes Alberta, would be “greater oversight and more control of how the legal market is established.”

While private ownership “would require extensive oversight and regulation to ensure there is no black market infiltration.” But on a positive note, this strategy could lead to retailers being “more responsive to customer needs, provide more access and offer more opportunities for people to start small businesses.”

Regardless of which option is ultimately decided, there will be “restrictions on retail locations” as it relates to the selling of tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceuticals alongside marijuana.

It will sure be fascinating to see how this all pans out.

Click here for a closer look at the Alberta Government’s entire Cannabis Framework proposal.

Recently, “theZoomer” tackled the issue of marijuana legalization in Canada head-on. This episode featured impassioned debate, especially by high profile pot advocate Jodie Emery. You can watch her appearance below.

-Adam Grant