How to Sell Pot in Alberta…Legally.
The Prohibition is Almost Over
March 6th 2018 marks a historic day for Alberta. It was on this day that applications began to be accepted for the private retail sale of cannabis in the Province. Budding entrepreneurs have been waiting for this ever since Bill 26 received royal assent. Under the bill, Alberta rejected the arcane idea held by some provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI) that the local government should be in complete control of all retail sales. With applications now open, and the release of guidelines for retail sale, the path has now become much clearer for a new breed of entrepreneur that dreams of promoting their combustible herbage on grand scale.
This article will provide a high-level overview of the Alberta Government’s requirements for individuals, businesses or organizations that wish to apply for a retail cannabis store licence. For more detailed information interested individuals are encouraged to refer to the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commissions Retail cannabis store handbook found at: https://aglc.ca/cannabis/retail-cannabis-store-licences/retail-cannabis-store-handbook.
Not so fast. The Alberta government has made a clear commitment to keeping cannabis out of the hands of children, limiting the illegal drug trade, while also protecting public health and safety. These commitments form the backdrop for all of the following application requirements:
The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (“AGLC”) will conduct personal and financial background checks of all applicants, associates and key employees of the applicant. Key employees include all individuals that control daily operations, have decision-making powers, and those who have the authority to hire or terminate the employment those within the business (i.e. executives, managers, owners, key holders).
The AGLC reserves the right to refuse, or terminate a cannabis license if the applicant, any of the applicant’s key employees, associates, or any person or entity connected to or associated with the applicant:
Municipal Approvals & Business/Retail Requirements
The applicant will also need to ensure that they obtain municipal approval regarding zoning, land use-restrictions, while also maintaining specific business/retail requirements before the AGLC will issue a retail cannabis store license.
Zoning/Land Use: A retail cannabis store must not be located within 100 metres of a school, health care facility, or a parcel of land designated as school reserve.
Business Requirements: The business must be incorporated in Alberta or extra-provincially registered in Alberta. It must be separate from any other business and must only operate for the purpose of the retail sale of cannabis. Further, the applicant must have a signed lease or certificate of title.
Retail Store Requirements: The retail store must have zero visibility into the store from outside, an alarm system, secure product display, secure storage area, video surveillance system and must only purchase cannabis from the AGLC. Non-cannabis items will need AGLC approval before sale. Drive-through windows are prohibited. Further, the AGLC policy has recently been updated to state that any term, symbol or graphic normally associated with medicine, health or pharmaceuticals are prohibited in a store name or signage.
The following fees are due at the time of application:
Questions? Reach Out.
If you or someone you know wants to know more about the legal cannabis retail space in Alberta or elsewhere please do not hesitate to reach out to one of our students at the BLG Business Venture Clinic. We can sort through the legal mumbo gumbo with you, and answer any questions that you may have.
James Hamilton is a 3rd year student at the University of Calgary Faculty of Law and is a caseworker at the BLG Business Venture Clinic. He leaves the U of C with an articling position at Forté Law Droit in Moncton, New Brunswick.
Blog posts are by students at the Business Venture Clinic. Student bios appear under each post.