Last updated, January 31, 2020.
In the first year of legalized cannabis sales in Canada, Alberta led the way in the expansion of private retail, opening over 300 stores in 2019. Following a provincial framework governing cannabis use and sales, Alberta has modeled much of its cannabis dispensary laws around alcohol and tobacco regulation. The province has set no cap on the number of licenses available.
Oversight, distribution, and retail licensing will be carried out by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC). Brick-and-mortar retail stores will be run by private operators while the government will operate online cannabis sales. Private retailers will only be permitted to sell cannabis and cannabis accessories approved by the AGLC; cannabis retailers will not be allowed to sell alcohol or tobacco from the same location.
The minimum age for purchase of cannabis is 18, which is consistent with the minimum age for alcohol and tobacco purchase.
We’ve compiled available answers to Alberta dispensary laws FAQs below, and we’ll keep this page updated regularly as more information is released. Be sure to check out our Canada dispensary laws page for information about regulations in other provinces.
Looking to launch a cannabis retail operation in Alberta? Here’s everything you need to know about the licensing process
Albertans are able to purchase non-medical cannabis at privately operated physical retail stores as well as through publicly operated online stores.
The Due Diligence Unit of the AGLC is in charge of processing retail cannabis applications in Alberta. To apply, the corporate entity applying for a retail license must complete the Applicant Disclosure Form and have an ownership interest of 10% or more of the applying retail cannabis store. Any investors with 10% or more ownership are required to complete the Associated Applicant Disclosure Form.
Key applicants must undergo thorough and extensive personal and financial background checks, conducted by the AGLC. Those who exercise influence or control over
You can view the full official AGLC Applicant Requirement Cannabis Retail Store License online.
Yes, municipal approval is required before the AGLC will issue a retail cannabis license. Applicants should get in touch with their intended municipality to find out requirements regarding municipal retail cannabis laws, zoning requirements, land-use restrictions, and location requirements regarding how close a retail store can be to a provincial health care facility, school, or parcel of land designated as a school reserve.
All retail cannabis businesses must be incorporated or extra-provincially registered in Alberta. The business must be separate from any other business, solely operate for the purpose of retail cannabis, and have a signed lease or certificate of title.
A $400 non-refundable application fee is due for each store location at the time of submission; a $700 annual license fee; and $3,000 initial deposit to cover the cost of background checks and additional costs of due diligence (the AGLC will refund any part of the $3,000 that is unused).
According to the AGLC, the licensing process will take approximately two to four months.
You can find extensive information, forms, and fees regarding Alberta’s cannabis licensing here.
All retailers must purchase wholesale inventory directly from the AGLC.
Online cannabis sales are run by the government. Private cannabis stores can have online menus and offer Click-and-Collect (order online, pick up in store) services.
Alberta has set the minimum age at 18, which is consistent with the purchase and consumption age for alcohol and tobacco
Alberta allows adults to publicly possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or its equivalent, a limit that is in line with the federal government’s possession limit. However, individual provinces may restrict daily purchase limits.
Just like liquor stores, cannabis retailers may be open from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.
All cannabis accessories must be approved for sale by the AGLC first.
Cannabis tracking and reporting helps the government prevent diversion into the black market. Get the facts here.
The proposed Cannabis Act authorizes the Minister to establish a national cannabis tracking system and to require licensed operators to report all cannabis activity.
The AGLC recently released a comprehensive list of requirements for retail cannabis, including requirements for tracking. Retailers must track both the AGLC number and lot number, method of payment, and date and time for every transaction. This must be reported to the AGLC in the accepted format by midnight on the seventh day of every calendar month. Inventory audits are required on a monthly basis and discrepancies must be reported to the AGLC. All of this data must be backed up, stored, and made available to law enforcement if requested.
Yes; our team at Cova has carefully reviewed Alberta’s tracking and reporting requirements and our cannabis-specific retail point of sale software meets every one. Not only will it make it easier for dispensary owners and managers to remain compliant, it will go above and beyond with features that can help optimize and grow the business. Please read more about How Cova POS Addresses Alberta's Compliance and Reporting Requirements here.
The Cannabis Act includes strict marketing and advertising laws. Specifically, it outlines five main restrictions when it comes to marketing cannabis products, accessories, and services. They include:
No testimonials or personal endorsements (from clients, customers, employees, or celebrities);
Cannot appeal to children or minors or advertise anywhere with a young audience;
Cannot include any pricing information except for at the point of sale;
Cannot use the depiction of a person, character, or animal (whether real or fiction) to promote cannabis;
No cannabis advertising or marketing can make cannabis look cool, glamorous, or exciting.
When it comes to paid ads on Google Adwords, a cannabis brand could limit the age range of their ads to 19 years and older and only target users in Canada to work around federal marketing laws. But this doesn’t change the fact that Google has a strict no-cannabis policy, even in legal countries. A cannabis brand can try to get ads through this filter, but multiple disapproved ads can get your site URL banned for good
No, the Cannabis Act is very clear that no free product can be given out.
Yes. Alberta established additional advertising laws in concert with federal guidelines. One major difference is that the AGLC allows a cannabis licensee and manufacturer of non-cannabis products and accessories to jointly advertise, so long as the advertisement complies with all other cannabis advertising laws.
The province also goes into more detail than the federal law when it comes to business-to-business advertising. Specifically, a cannabis supplier cannot direct advertising to a particular licensee or chain of licensees. But the AGLC does permit “co-operative advertising” in which an advertisement includes the specific mention of a cannabis supplier/representative, so long as the licensee covers all costs pertaining to the advertising.
The AGLC also requires every licensee to keep records of advertising for a period of two years, which the AGLC can request at any time.
Cannabis Business Lawyer & Founding Partner, Segev LLP
Ron Segev is the founding partner of Segev LLP. A practical-minded business lawyer with expertise in the cannabis industry, he represents cultivators, dispensaries, CBD extractors, oil extractors, food processors, media and marketing companies, consultancies, and other businesses in the legal cannabis market.