After months of public engagement, the provincial government has proposed legislation to manage the sale, distribution and enforcement of soon to be legal cannabis use in Alberta.
“This legislation represents the culmination of extensive engagement and research on legalized cannabis,” said Alberta’s Minster of Justice Kathleen Ganley.
“It puts our province in a position to not only meet the federal deadline of July 2018, but does so in a way that is responsible and promotes public health and safety for all Albertans,” she said.
The new legislation comes as the Federal Government is set to legalize the use of Cannabis in Canada next year.
The proposed legislation, known as An Act to Control and Regulate Cannabis, will amend the Gaming and Liquor Act to be the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis act.
Once approved, the new legislation will allow cannabis to be sold in two different retail streams in Alberta.
Cannabis will be available for sale in privately operated retail locations and government owned online retails sales.
As with the sale of alcohol, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) will be responsible for oversight of the private retail stores.
The details on licensing a cannabis sales location will be available in the new year.
Along with the regulations surrounding sales, the proposed legislation also details the provinces plans for the minimum age, restrictions on use and enforcement.
The province has set the minimum age for cannabis use and purchase in Alberta at 18-years-old.
With the minimum age, there will also be new provincial laws making it an offence for anyone under 18 to possesses five grams or less of cannabis.
An Act to Control and Regulate Cannabis, also sets out the regulatory guidelines and licenses for private retail locations which will be enforced by the AGLC.
As with alcohol, the AGLC will oversee the distribution and compliance of the cannabis retail system.
While the sale of cannabis will be regulated through the same agency that regulates alcohol and tobacco, the co-location of cannabis sales with alcohol, pharmaceuticals or tobacco has been banned.
The proposed legislation also prepares a framework for further regulation of advertising, labelling, and promotion of cannabis if it is deemed to be required after federal regulations on those areas have been established.
In a parallel announcement, the government has also proposed amendments to the Traffic Safety Act to deter cannabis impaired driving.
If passed, there will be new provincial sanctions for both cannabis and alcohol-impaired driving offences.
The provincial amendments will augment changes to federal impaired-driving laws in the Criminal Code.
The goal of the new drug-impaired driving sanctions is to bring them into alignment with existing impaired driving laws.
If the proposed changes are passed by the legislature, Alberta’s zero tolerance program for graduated drivers licenses will be expanded to include cannabis, cannabis/alcohol combinations and illegal drugs.
The new legislation will also strengthen existing provincial sanctions on impaired driving. Once passed the change to 90- 90-day license suspensions would be implemented by Feb. 1, 2018. The other cannabis-related amendments would be become law when the federal government legislation is in place.