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LPs Can Provide Samples in Alberta

Licensed producers can now give cannabis samples to retailers in Alberta following an announcement by Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis (AGLC) on March 23, 2023.

Effective immediately, cannabis representatives have the ability to provide a one-time maximum sample size of 3.5 grams of dried cannabis or equivalency per cannabis product. Samples provided must be for marketing purposes and are for the licensee only.

Samples must meet all Health Canada requirements including packaging, labelling, and federal compliance reporting. Records of all samples provided must be retained for six years and are subject to AGLC’s review upon request.

The change in regulations has been met with encouragement by producers, albeit with some questions. Tim Mallett is the CEO and Co-Founder of Alberta Bud Inc., a craft cannabis cultivation company located in Edmonton, and Director of the Alberta Cannabis Micro License Association, representing the voice of small cannabis producers in Alberta.

Excessive Red Tape in Regulation

“We hope this particular announcement is the first of a full series that will be released,” says Mallett. “It is a move in the right direction but comes with a whole bunch of red tape. For instance, the way they have designed the regulations is that flower can be the only sample. Does that include pre-rolls, edibles, etc.? Why would there be a rule to sample only one category of product?”

Referencing other parts of the regulations, Mallett adds, “We have to keep records for six years and what does a ‘one-time only’ sample mean? It is moving in the right direction but drafted in a way that is causing more problems.”

The Value of Sampling

But Mallett acknowledges the value of sampling. “It will make some difference for producers. We’ll be able to bring in samples and allow budtenders to smell and try them, and that is a huge step forward from where we are now. It is much easier to allow retailers to experience your product in the proper way.”

Robyn Rabinovich, VP of Marketing at Aurora Cannabis, says, “We’re always looking for unique tools to further educate budtenders and retailers on how our product can stand out and differentiate itself from a large number of products in the markets. We look at sampling as truly another way to support retailers on helping them to be as educated as possible.”

Similar to Mallett, she acknowledges the restrictive wording of the new regulations. “Looking at the framework—the 3.5 grams and equivalency factor—it does provide limitations on category formats that you can sample. For instance, we can’t provide samples on a 1 gram concentrate with an equivalency factor of 4 grams or samples for infused pre-rolls.”

Future Changes

Rabinovich believes this is a great step forward and hopes cannabis regulations will eventually move in a similar direction to alcohol. “In the grand scheme of things, compared to alcohol, cannabis is still early in the game. Hopefully this allows us to get to a position, where from a regulation standpoint, things are slightly looser, like we see in alcohol.”

Mallett hopes government will further consult industry and include them in the creation of policies but is encouraged that things are moving in the right direction.

Tags: AGLC (36), Alberta Bud (1), Alberta cannabis retail (15), Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis (12), Aurora Cannabis (14), Cannabis Regulations (101), cannabis samples (3), Health Canada regulations (12), Robyn Rabinovich (1), Tim Mallett (1)