Alberta has collected more than $176,000 in fines from cannabis retailers and producers doing business in the province since the beginning of legalization.
Alberta’s cannabis regulator, the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC) has issued warnings or fines in more than 50 instances following in-store inspections or monitoring of promotional activities since the first cannabis stores opened in the province in October 2018, issuing a total of $176,817.40 in fines.
AGLC inspectors conduct in-store inspections as well as various marketing campaigns to observe if retailers and producers are complying with a variety of provincial regulations.
The most commonly identified issue was retailers failing to check the identification of anyone appearing under the age of 25, generally resulting in a fine of $750 or a three-day licence suspension, during which the store cannot be open. There were around two dozen such fines issued, and one company opted to take the three-day suspension.
Stores also saw much larger fines of around $10,000 for providing cannabis to a minor or failing to comply with Alberta’s cannabis advertising or promotions policies. Although most of those fined in the latter category were retailers, the AGLC also found several licensed producers operating within the province to have run afoul of the provincial marketing restrictions.
In one instance, a retail chain that has locations in and outside of Alberta received a $10,000 fine for social media posts from an “Influencer” they hired to promote their products. The AGLC determined these Instagram posts were not properly age-gated and that the use of the influencer was considered an endorsement.
There were also several instances of companies receiving fines of around $2,500 for not having product cabinets and/or the storage room locked, sometimes even after being frequently warned by inspectors.
While all provinces have their own approach, Alberta is well known for its strict marketing regulations, and it’s the only province that makes these detailed types of inspection results public.
A representative for the the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB)—the agency that oversees these types of inspections in BC—confirms with StratCann that it has pursued enforcement against three licensed cannabis retail stores, resulting in a total of $19,000 in monetary penalties in 2022. No monetary penalties were issued from 2018-2021.
The LCRB has conducted 1,985 cannabis store inspections since October 17, 2018; 373 in 2019, 709 in 2020, and 903 in 2021. There were four warnings issued in 2019, 16 in 2020, and 67 in 2021, for a total of 87.
Further east, Ontario conducted 222 unannounced inspections of cannabis stores from 2019–2020 and 678 from 2020–2021. Manitoba conducted 389 inspections of cannabis stores in 2019–2020 and 586 in 2020–2021.
No other provinces responded to requests for information on these inspections as of publication.
Note: This article has been updated to include information from the LCRB in BC.