New rules in Alberta that are moving online sales of cannabis from a government store to private retailers will take effect in early March.
A representative for The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Corporation (AGLC) says private cannabis retailers have 90 days before the legislation takes effect and retailers will be able to launch new online cannabis sales and delivery options for their customers.
The AGLC has the same 90-day window to remove their own online cannabis sales currently run at albertacannabis.org.
More specifics on the legislation and what sorts of delivery options will be available to private cannabis stores are expected in the coming weeks.
“If an Alberta retail cannabis licensee wishes to open an online store, they must request an AGLC endorsement to their current licence to allow for online sales,” AGLC spokesperson Karin Campbell explained to StratCann via email.
“AGLC Inspectors will work with licensees to ensure they act in accordance with all legislation, including the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act, federal Cannabis Act and the Personal Information Protection Act. Once Bill 80 has passed all legislative requirements, policy will be released, providing further details on the regulatory requirements.
UPDATE: AGLC now confirms that “licensed retailers will be authorized to deliver via staff or contracted staff directly employed or contracted by the licensee; common carriers may also be used. Other delivery services such as taxis, Uber, Skip or other local delivery services will not be included at this time.”
The AGLC retailer handbook considers a “common carrier” as an entity “whose business transports people or goods from one place to another for a fee.”
Alberta’s Bill 80, the Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act, 2021, was tabled on November 4 and included language that would dismantle the AGLC’s own online cannabis sales platform, allowing private retailers to fill this role instead and to carry additional cannabis-related items like branded apparel.
The bill passed the House on December 7 and received Royal Assent on December 8.
Several other provinces allow retailers to deliver, including Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, British Columbia, and Newfoundland. Yukon recently passed their own legislation that will allow their private retailers to begin delivery sometime in 2022, as well.
Earlier this year Canada Post announced they would again be delivering cannabis to residences, following a pause in the service due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Ryan Roch, the owner of Lake City Cannabis with locations in Calgary and Chestermere, says he’s ready to hit the ground running.
“We’re all ready to go. We’ve been actually preparing for this for close to a year. For us at this point it’s just an implementation of resources, and looking at the actual regs and making sure we can nail it across the board.”
Roch says the work the AGLC has done to coordinate with retailers is “to be applauded” and sees this as a great opportunity for independent stores like his.
“This is a big move forward for independent retailers in this province,” continues Roch. “This is a huge win for the cannabis industry in Alberta and we’re really excited to provide our level of services.”
He says he’s still waiting on more details from the AGLC and if they will be able to use a third-party delivery service, but suspects that using his own in-house employees will allow him to better manage deliveries and maintain his own brand.
Omar Khan, the Senior Vice President of Corporate and Public Affairs at High Tide Inc—that owns Canna Cabana and NewLeaf Cannabis locations in Alberta—shares Roch’s enthusiasm.
“Alberta has once again shown that it is a province that believes in the free market. The new legislation provides a shot in the arm to private sector cannabis retailers who, for too long, have had to compete with a government-owned entity in the e-commerce space that also serves as their sole wholesale supplier.”
Like Roch, Khan says his team is also ready to hit the ground running once the 90 day wait period is up. Although details aren’t in place yet, he expects that retailers will be required to use in-house delivery services, rather than a third-party service like Pineapple Express Delivery or Uber Eats. (Editor’s note: The AGLC has now confirmed “licensed retailers will be authorized to deliver via staff or contracted staff directly employed or contracted by the licensee; common carriers may also be used. Other delivery services such as taxis, Uber, Skip or other local delivery services will not be included at this time.”)
“While the AGLC has yet to release the regulatory framework that will govern private delivery, we anticipate that third party deliveries will not be allowed, at least initially,” explains Khan.
“Nobody wants to see a situation similar to what restaurants face where a small group of delivery service apps can gauge small and medium-sized businesses. A system like the one currently in place in Ontario where deliveries must be executed by individual store employees makes the most sense in terms of ensuring an even playing field across the board.”
Kyle Bell, the Manager at Numo Cannabis in Edmonton says his store is also interested in the program, but still has questions they hope will be answered soon, especially in regard to whether retailers can use third party delivery services and what kind of security requirements will be in place.
“It’s something that is definitely exciting,” says Bell. “The only issue I have with it is waiting on how the AGLC is going to handle it. My biggest concern is security, whether or not we’re going to have you hire some outside contractors to deliver or not. There hasn’t been too much detail on it.”
Sources close to the file say they expect more details from the AGLC in the coming weeks.