Moving Alberta's Cannabis Industry Forward

Barry Morishita

April 20, 2022


Alberta, along with the rest of Canada, welcomed recreational cannabis into society for adult use. Now five years post-legalization, we are beginning to better understand the economic impacts the industry has had and the opportunities to support the industry through the regulations. Alberta is poised to be a national leader in cannabis, but we need to focus on improving the industrys accessibility, safety, and trust.

As the consumer uptake for recreational cannabis continues to grow and become more competitive to combat the illicit market, the Alberta government needs to ensure that its regulations on cannabis do not hinder the hard work of the industry. This starts with safety. Window coverings on cannabis retail stores create an unsafe environment for employees and consumers, leading to a series of robberies at cannabis retail locations across the province. The equitable solution that targets the health and safety of Albertans is to remove the window coverings and treat cannabis retailers like any other retail stores.

As Alberta continues working toward economic recovery from the pandemic, the Alberta Party sees great potential in using cannabis as an economic catalyst particularly in tourism and hospitality. Alberta has pioneered cannabis gardens at live events that allow for non-combustible cannabis products to be ordered to and consumed at the event in designated zones, but that is only the beginning for the potential that Alberta holds in cannabis tourism and hospitality. Careful and responsible visionary policy changes such as the legalization and regulation of cannabis consumption lounges and pop-up cannabis retail outlets will create entirely new revenue streams tied to domestic and international cannabis tourism. Amending existing cannabis retail applications, and using existing municipal zoning bylaws, cannabis consumption lounges and guided culinary experiences can be operationalized in very little time.

Albertans use cannabis in a myriad of different ways, and for different reasons. In order to properly educate the public on cannabis use, the Alberta government needs to better understand how our population uses cannabis and its impact on society. The Alberta Party plans to use the tax dollars generated from the excise fees to undertake research on cannabis use in Alberta and identify the best ways to educate the public and continue growing trust in the industry. Part of the excise fees will also go to supporting municipalities in their efforts to work with the cannabis industry.

Lastly, The Alberta Party will be a voice to reduce red tape for medical cannabis. Albertans who are prescribed medical cannabis from a doctor are subject to a 10% tax and subject to GST/HST at the point of sale when picking up their prescriptions. While these taxes are claimed and refunded during tax season, this additional step is not necessary. Medical cannabis should not be subject to additional taxes and should be GST/HST zero-rated, the same as other prescription drugs. While this lays in the hands of the Federal government, the Alberta government should be a voice for change on this issue.

The goal is to move forward in a thoughtful, responsible manner to prioritize safety, accessibility, consumer choice and market competitiveness to further generate public confidence in the industry.