Alberta surprised a lot of people when it became Canada’s busiest province for cannabis retail, and many other provinces are doing their best to learn from the Alberta model as they try to correct tepid first-year retail rollouts.
Before the end of the year, however, Alberta startled many with two unpopular retail moves.
First, in an email to Alberta Cannabis Micro Association president Kieley Beaudry, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission announced, “Individuals who possess Micro Cultivation/Processing Licenses do not produce enough product for AGLC requirements; therefore we would not engage in business with them at this time.”
Because those with cultivation licenses can’t sell to consumers without processing licenses, Beaudry explained, this move leaves micro-growers with few options except to sell to larger licensed parties.
Industry experts were taken aback.
Lawyer Trina Fraser called the move “really disappointing,” and argued provinces shouldn’t just not exclude micros, “they should be working toward establishing quotas to include and support them. Forcing micros to sell through the ‘big guys’ squeezes their already tight margins even more.”
Growers across Canada winced at last spring’s sudden move by Health Canada demanding all license applicants must have a fully built production site ready to go before they can begin the application process.
At the time, critics warned the decision would keep individual growers out of the market. Many said the same things about the AGLC’s refusal to buy from micros.
“So even if micros raise capital, build a facility, and navigate the regulatory labyrinth to licensure, some provinces won’t even buy from them as a matter of policy?” wondered Materia Ventures’ Nick Pateras.
Only days later, Alberta disappointed its fans in the industry with news Jason Kenney’s UCP government had decided to delay the legalization of cannabis vaping products ahead of a review of the provincial Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act.
In not immediately legalizing vape pens and extracts, Alberta joined Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador, who’ve also banned the products. Nova Scotia has banned flavoured vapes, while BC has levied a new tax on vape products.
Heightened public concerns about vaping have followed the health crisis that arose from tainted counterfeit vape products sold illegally in prohibition states.
Though the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has specifically blamed thickening agent vitamin E acetate for the rash of poisonings, many governments continue to call for extreme caution in the rollout of all vape products.
Industry representatives have countered that regulated vape pens would offer none of the risks associated with unregulated vape products.
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