The Alberta Government is preparing for the legalization of marijuana later this year by putting in place strict rules for retailers.
The Province announced today at a press conference the rules and condition for cannabis retail store owners and their employees.
Along with a strict set of rules and regulations in place for the ownership and operation of a private cannabis retail location, owners will also have to undergo a background check.
The regulations the Provinces have established outline who can own cannabis stores, where they can be located, rules for staff, safety and security requirements and other operational details for private retailers.
“These regulations focus on keeping our communities safe, while protecting public health and promoting safety on roads, in workplaces and in public spaces,” said Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kathleen Ganley.
While these rules and regulations will be established province wide, municipalities will have some flexibility to adjust the “certain aspects” to match the needs of the community.
The regulations include:
- Mandatory background checks for retail licence applicants.
- Mandatory training and background checks for all retail employees.
- One person, group or organization cannot hold more than 15 per cent of licences in Alberta.
- A 100-metre buffer for stores from schools and provincial health-care facilities. However, municipalities have the ability to adjust these buffer zones or add additional ones to best suit their communities’ needs
- Store hours set between 10 a.m. and 2 a.m., the same as liquor stores, with municipalities able to adjust these hours.
- Mandatory security measures in stores.
“[The rules will] help keep cannabis out of the hands of youth, while ensuring consumers have access to safe products no matter where they live,” Ganley said.
Ganley says the reason for the strict rules and regulations is to limit and reduce the illegal sale of the product.
The goal of these regulations is to ensure the continued healthy and safety of Albertans is a priority.
“We don’t want to see a flow between the black market and the legitimate market… We believe our regulations will set a balance,” said Ganley.
The detailed and “stringent” background check for all looking to open a retail location will include a criminal record check, a business history check as well as background on the person’s tax and financial history.
According to the Province, a retail licence will automatically be denied if a person has any history with or links to organized crime or drug trafficking.
The government has also decided each retail license will have to be renewed annually, and a new background check done every one to three years.
The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (ALGC) is responsible for providing details on the application process, licensing the retail locations and the distribution of the substance through the Act to Control and Regulate Cannabis.
Alain Maisonneuve, CEO and president of the ALGC says he is confident in the commission’s ability to monitor and provide the safe sale of cannabis.
“We will continue to be a leader through age verification processes… and the promotion of responsible sale and consumption of legal cannabis,” Maisonneuve said in a release.
The Alberta Government previously set the legal age of purchase and consumption of marijuana at 18 years of age. Under the rules the government is putting in place, the age restrictions mean that no child under the age of 18 can enter a cannabis retail location, even if accompanied by an adult.
The age restriction is also in place for those that can legally work in a private store. Like the owner of the store, employees must also undergo a criminal background check and complete mandatory training.
Each transaction at a retail location is limited to a maximum of 30 grams per transaction.
The store will also have mandatory security measure which will include. alarms, video surveillance and secured product storage.
The Province has also dictated the product can only be displayed in locked display cases, accessed only by the store employees and only while the store is open.
Consumption or use of the product at the retail location is strictly prohibited.
Those looking to open their own retail location can apply for a licence as of March 6. A retail license will not be provided to an applicant until municipal approval or a business license is procured.
Details on the license and application forms can be found at www.aglc.ca/cannabis.
When it comes to the location of the stores the Province has provided a minimum requirement buffer areas. These are set by the Province so if municipalities chose not to set their own bylaws these rules will be in place.
However, municipalities are able to set their own bylaws to work for the community as to the locations of the stores or can ask for a variance on the provincial regulation.
The Provincial government is still waiting on a few items from the federal government, such as RCMP regulations. With the rules and limitations already set up by the Province, Ganley says municipalities can, and have, began creating bylaws for their communities.
A municipality may be able to stop a retail location from opening in the community, as each retail store must first get a business licence from the municipality. However, a municipality cannot prohibit the purchase and possession of cannabis that may be purchased legally online or at another municipality.
“This is a brand new market for Alberta, and it is difficult to predict exactly what will happen. If that means we will have to revisit these regulations at a later date then we will,” said Ganley.