Proposed changes to Alta. cannabis laws see higher fines, restrictions on branding

As Alberta gears up to deal with the legalization of cannabis, it’s proposing higher fines for rule-breakers and tighter restrictions on branding, as well as potentially allowing small communities to sell the product differently.

The proposals were outlined in new legislation tabled April 9. It states that Alberta won’t allow retail stores to brand themselves or products as medicinal, therapeutic or pharmaceutical. Using cartoon characters or other images that might attract children for branding purposes would also be prohibited.

“We don’t want them going out there and making it look very palatable to children, and we don’t want them to go out there and suggest the recreational stream has medical benefits,” said Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley during a news conference.

The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC), which will handle and distribute cannabis to retailers, will review a company’s name and signage to ensure branding is in line with regulations. Companies must sell cannabis in sealed packages, and business owners could be penalized if people smoke or vape the product on their premises if it’s prohibited there.

The AGLC has proposed fines of up to $1 million be handed down to owners who fail to comply with rules, which is much higher than the up to $200,000 penalty currently in place.

As for offences that go to court, the proposals state that officers would be able to prove a substance is in fact cannabis by its smell or packaging, rather than having to rely on a lab test for proof.

The legislation also opens the door for cannabis to be sold differently in small communities.

While it’s up to municipalities to decide where pot can be smoked and whether or not they will allow such stores in their communities, the new legislation proposes a regulation that could potentially allow for small communities to sell cannabis in one-stop shops, or stores that also sell things like groceries or offer postal services.

This regulation is already in place for alcohol sales in such communities, because many of them are so small they can’t support a standalone store. Any businesses that want such set-up would require approval from the AGLC.

The province doesn’t expect cannabis to be sold in these one-stop shops, but is putting in the regulation just in case cabinet ministers want to allow for it in the future.

These proposals are in response to the federal government’s goal of legalizing weed this summer. The fast-approaching deadline has left many communities scrambling and wondering how they can enforce the new rules given the few policing resources they have.

Ganley said while she’s still waiting on the federal government for details on helping municipalities, federal officials have suggested there could be funding for drug enforcement experts.

“But we’re not exactly sure how that’s going to roll out, either,” she said of the potential funding.

As for other changes coming forward in this new legislation, it’s proposed that the AGLC be allowed to charge a wholesale markup on cannabis to recover costs. This is similar to how markups for alcohol are handled.

As well, the AGLC will have the authority to destroy or dispose of any cannabis products sold in stores. This includes any product that has gone stale, has been returned by a customer, or has only been used for display purposes.

The organization plans to change its name to the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission if the proposals are passed. It will have an online sales portal for people looking to purchase the product, and deliveries must be accepted by an adult at the doorstep. The AGLC is still determining who will deliver the product.

The legislation also lays out proposals that tweak alcohol laws in Alberta.

The province is proposing that in-store fermentation be allowed. In other words, people would be able to make beer or wine in stores and then take that product home. As well, bartenders will be allowed to infuse liquor with herbs, spices, fruit and candy. They won’t be allowed to infuse it will cannabis.

The legislation is expected to pass this spring.

Contact jeremy.simes@producer.com

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Comments

  • Harold

    This is a dazzling display of what it means when the government sets forth to legalize a prohibited drug. They don’t take their hands off of the product as is anticipated but in fact they do the very opposite. Marijuana now is a giant Government tax and fine money grab needing government control in order to collect all of the new government revenue. How does this at all eliminate crime when in fact it creates more crime and more money for the government coffers? There is still less control and more profit on the street corner than there is abiding with all of the governments new rules; wasn’t it like that before and you only needed to be concerned with hiding and not being caught? As delusional as the government is and always will be, perhaps they believe that children were not ever exposed and influenced by marijuana before the product was ever legalized. In their consistent delusional state they likely believe that the children will not be subject to watching and being influenced by those legally using and seemingly “enjoying” their Marijuana freely and publicly and in the homes of their parents and friends. The Government delusion has worked with smoking, alcohol, and gambling, amongst the children who have since turned 18 hasn’t it? You can go downtown in any city, town, village, or hamlet, and see all of the teenage drunks that all of the government’s preventative measures have created; next it will be the Marijuana and the police taking the grown up children to their cells. The government does not perform any ACT unless there is a tax and a fee and a punitive fee and jail sentence all attached to it. Any form of government is about restricting the public; the government is not about freeing the public unless the government act is to take their hands entirely off. (Repeal) More restrictions are not more freedoms unless you are just as delusional as is government. I do not support marijuana use myself, simply because I am not a user nor will I be regardless of the new legislation, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t recognize the government’s delusional BS when I see it.
    In freedom a person asks themselves why they should need it – but in imposed restrictions – they question who has the right to tell them what to do and in defiance they take the position of being their own boss (which truly they are) and they do exactly what they are told not to do and in excess create their addictions to uphold being the inner boss; they lose the addiction and they lose their meaning of Boss. Freedoms create better choices and imposed restrictions simply cannot and do not. If I take the place of government and I say that you cannot, how long will you defy me to prove to me that you are the boss and I am not; a life time addicted? If I say – take your choice; how long will you defy me; a life time addiction? The government knows what they are doing to the minds of the public and the AGLC is their corner stone of delusions and addictions and takes a giants share in taxation yet yields so very little in positive results.

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