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Alberta Allowing Online Sales

Alberta is following in Ontario, BC, and Yukon and Northwest Territories footsteps, announcing Bill 80: the Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act, 2021. Among other things, the Act would allow private businesses to sell online as Alberta Cannabis, the provincial online retailer, steps back.

Amending the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act

Bill 80 is an omnibus bill that groups together regulations and amendments to various bills, and is meant to make the bureaucratic system run more smoothly. As a part of the bill, the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act is getting a few amendments.

The most exciting, of course, is the amendment to section 90.08(2) that would allow cannabis licensees, and not just an agency designated by the Minister, to sell cannabis online.

An additional amendment was made to allow other things besides cannabis and accessories to be sold at retail stores, adding a requirement that “the activities authorized by the licence will be carried out in a location where no alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceuticals or other things are sold except cannabis unless the other things sold are cannabis accessories or prescribed things.”

The prescribed things, however, were not clear.

According to the province, its public online retailer AlbertaCannabis.org only brings in around $200,000 per year, so decided it would be best to leave the cannabis retail to the retailers.

Industry Response

High Tide, one of the country’s largest retailers, applauded the move.

“Alberta has once again shown that it is a province that believes in the free market. Today’s proposed legislation will, if passed, provide a shot in the arm to private sector cannabis retailers who, for too long, have had to compete with a government-owned entity in the e-commerce space that also serves as their sole wholesale supplier,” Raj Grover, CEO of High Tide, commented in a press release. “Licensed cannabis retailers have proven in other provinces that we can operate online sales and home delivery in a safe and secure manner, allowing adults to have timely access to the regulated and quality-controlled products that they want while ensuring that, unlike illicit market operators, access to youth is strictly forbidden.”

Bill 80 recently passed its first reading. It will see several more steps before it’s in the books, but if it passes retailers could be selling online after 90 days.