Alberta not moving forward with changes to cannabis marketing rules

Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis say they will not be moving forward with proposed changes to the province’s marketing and promotion rules for cannabis companies.

After analyzing the feedback from stakeholders during a consultation conducted in 2020, the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) last month said it was considering recommending the repeal of rules that prohibit “inducements and prohibited relationships” for cannabis retailers.  

However, in a letter dated March 15, that was sent to relevant industry stakeholders, the AGLC says they will not be recommending the repeal of the relevant sections of the Gaming and Liquor Control Act and Regulations that relate to marketing and promotion, and will instead focus on “those measures that will further reduce red tape and improve the business environment”.

It would have been nice if they had outlined the specific points where they felt it was unpopular or negative

Ryan Roch, Lake City Cannabis

Under Alberta’s rules, an inducement is “the exchange of something valuable from a licensed cannabis producer to a cannabis retail licensee”. Currently, such inducements are prohibited for cannabis retail licensees and licensed cannabis producers under sections 118 and 119 of Alberta’s Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Regulations (GLCR).

Ryan Roch, the owner of Lake City Cannabis, a retailer with a store in Chestermere, Alberta, says he is disappointed the province could not find any aspects of the marketing and promotion regulations that could not be refined.

Although he says he had some concerns that such changes could end up benefiting larger companies over independent retailers like himself. He also says he’s confused by the AGLC first saying the proposal was based on industry feedback and support, to only double back and say they aren’t making the changes because of industry feedback and lack of support.

“It would have been nice if they had outlined the specific points where they felt it was unpopular or negative,” says Roch. 

Omar Khan, Senior Vice President of Corporate and Public Affairs for High Tide Inc., which operates more than 50 retail cannabis stores in Alberta under the names Canna Cabana, NewLeaf, and Kushbar says the company is disappointed with the change in direction. 

By allowing cultivators to develop product awareness campaigns in partnership with retailers, consumers would be given the opportunity to see value in different brands and their products.

Omah Khan, High Tide Inc.

“We are disappointed that the AGLC has chosen not to move forward with its original plan to recommend the repeal of these provisions,” says Khan. “High Tide and many other Alberta cannabis retailers supported this proposal because we believe that the repeal of the prohibitions related to restricted relationships between LPs and retailers will help to foster competition as well as collaboration on consumer education.”

He says that changes to Alberta’s marketing rules would help better inform consumers.  

“Studies show that many consumers are making buying decisions based solely on THC or CBD content, but there are many other factors that should be considered as part of a buying decision. By allowing cultivators to develop product awareness campaigns in partnership with retailers, consumers would be given the opportunity to see value in different brands and their products. That being said, we are encouraged by the AGLC’s restated commitment to consider other ‘measures that will further reduce red tape and improve the business environment,’ and look forward to constructively engaging with them in this regard.”Alberta currently lists nearly 600 licensed cannabis retailers, the most in the country. Similar to how alcohol is regulated in Alberta, the province runs its own cannabis distribution network while allowing for retail stores to be run by private businesses.

Alberta currently lists nearly 600 licensed cannabis retailers, the most in the country. Similar to how alcohol is regulated in Alberta, the province runs its own cannabis distribution network while allowing for retail stores to be run by private businesses.

Featured image via Instagram


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