Provinces are slowly but surely revealing their pot plans one after another and the newest province following that path is Alberta. As the province officially announced its plan for legalization of recreational cannabis, they also released a short video which briefly explains how the whole cannabis industry works in Canada, and you can see it below:
As you may have noticed, legalizing and regulating all the details such as growing, production, distribution, taxation, sales, age limits, and restrictions can take time and more importantly a lot of effort and negotiation.
You can understand why it is very important to familiarize yourself with the details of it if you plan on consuming recreational cannabis in Alberta.
Let’s start by talking about possession of cannabis, as that is one of the most common things that will be occuring to 11 million people in Canada once recreational weed hits the streets.
In Alberta, adults over 18 will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis in a public place aligning with the federal government’s proposed possession limit for adults.
Given that the federal government has decided to let the provinces set the minimum age limit for any cannabis interaction, Alberta has decided to low ball the game, making recreational cannabis available to all adults within its borders.
However, the same doesn’t go for anyone under the age of 18, as those caught with cannabis will face consequences.
Young people — those under the legal age of 18 — will not be allowed to purchase or possess any cannabis. This zero tolerance approach means that youth who possess more than five grams of cannabis will continue to face criminal charges.
The “good” news is that young people (under 18) which get caught by Canadian law enforcement will not be prosecuted or criminally charged, but will face different issues such as seizure of the cannabis, notification of parents or guardians, and penalties similar to those for underage possession of alcohol or tobacco.
Minimum age for cannabis possession in Alberta
As previously mentioned, Alberta has set the bar pretty low when it comes to the age of those trying to acquire recreational cannabis. The minimum age is set that low with several reasons in mind:
We know youth are already accessing it; nearly half of Canadians in Grade 12 say they have used cannabis.Setting a minimum age of 18 will help balance the health risks to youth with the need to eliminate their interaction with a sophisticated and potentially dangerous illicit market.
Seeing how the minimum age is the same for both alcohol and tobacco, it only made sense to keep it at that for cannabis as well. Alberta officials also stated that “a strong focus on public education will be an important tool to encourage responsible use and create awareness of cannabis’s impact on health”.
Education is surely one of the strongest tools we can now use in battling dangerous substances coming from the black market, such as cannabis laced with opioids, “fake weed” or also known as K2 and Spice. These substances can cause horrific damages to the users, such as seizures and horrible addiction and withdrawal symptoms.
Growing and smoking marijuana in Alberta
The provincial government has announced that growing plants will be allowed in homes and closed environments, but never within the reach of youth and kids. Four plants per household for personal use, up to a height of 100 cm will be allowed to each family, but growers will be restricted to growing them inside homes.
Residents of Alberta will not be allowed to grow plants outdoors, where children and youth would have easier access to them, which is in line with the initial concern of allowing civilians to grow on their own.
When it comes to where you can smoke recreational cannabis, there won’t be too many spots in Alberta that are overly smoke-friendly, as Albertans will be allowed to smoke only in private residences, and dedicated smoking areas such as tobacco smoking areas.
Cafes, bars and cannabis cafes or lounges were one idea that had a lot of support from the people of Alberta, which initially wont have any such venues specific to consuming cannabis. However, this doesn’t have to mean that Alberta won’t turn into Little Amsterdam some years down the line.
If you thought that just because we haven’t mentioned it yet hotboxing will be legal – it won’t. There will be strict laws in place for those smoking in cars, both drivers and passengers alike. In an effort to keep the youngest of Canada, provincial officials have decided that:
Public smoking or vaping of cannabis in Alberta will be restricted from areas frequented by children, from hospitals and school properties, from vehicles and from any place where tobacco is restricted.
Will Alberta break the wheel?
As it stands, big weed corporations will be the only ones to benefit from the LCBO sales model which will completely eliminate smaller to medium sized businesses, at least in the legal market.
- The bulk of Canada’s cannabis is being supplied by Canopy Growth – Canada’s current biggest weed supplier;
- Justin Trudeau recently announced a $1-dollar tax on sales up to $10 and a 10 percent tax on sales of more than $10;
- Many provinces, such as Ontario and Quebec, have opted for the LCBO-model of sales and distribution;
- Alberta is currently looking into 2 sales models, government-owned and operated stores, as well as licensed and regulated private stores;
- Online sales will be heavily regulated, Ontario will have only one website dedicated to recreational cannabis sales, Alberta is still undecided;
As you may see, things are quickly starting to look fishy, at least from the average Canadian’s perspective. The liberal plan which the federal government promised to the people in their 2015 election platform is slowly turning on the average voters and biting them on the rear, or maybe not just not turning out to be what everyone expected.
Either way, it’s not looking as promising as people might have thought in first place.
If you are looking forward to the legalization from a your-average-Joe-perspective, you will find that this still means you will have legal weed, maybe not the most liberal model of sales and production, but still – legal weed is legal weed.
Private stores will sell cannabis, government runs online sales
It seems that Alberta has broken the wheel, at least half of it.
Just a few days ago, when asked about the sales model and why the government of Alberta has decided to let its residents get engaged in the sales of cannabis, Finance Minister Joe Ceci said that the public will be informed next week officially.
Even though the information didn’t get confirmed by Finance Minister Ceci, it is almost 100% likely that Alberta will run with a hybrid model for recreational cannabis sales.
This would mean that the private sector would run all sales of cannabis on the ground, while the government would be the only provider of cannabis online for Albertans.
This comes as a surprise, given that most people thought Alberta was sure to follow Ontario’s LCBO model.
However, given that Manitoba has already announced a hybrid model, could this push more provinces towards a free-for-all model?
The reason government officials have given for retaining rights to sell cannabis online is simple: age restriction.
In an age where kids have the unlimited access to the internet via phones and computers, acquiring cannabis from private-run businesses would be a piece of cake for most kids, even without a proper ID.