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Cannabis in Alberta – Cannabis | Weed | Marijuana



What’s the state of cannabis in Alberta? According to the headlines, not great. Calgary-based SNDL, previously known as Sundial Growers, is cutting nearly 100 jobs as part of an industry-wide reduction.

“Oversupply and excess capacity have resulted in high-quality flower being widely available and sold well below the marginal cost of production,” SNDL Zach George said in a statement Monday.

The news comes as other large producers have realized that they overextended themselves. Edmonton-based Aurora announced last year that they were laying off 12% of its staff and closing down three facilities.

Some critics say the Alberta cannabis market is oversaturated. Alberta is Canada’s fourth-largest province by population size, but its cannabis market is comparable to Ontario‘s.

But while we can attribute some of this growth (and subsequent pull-back) to Ottawa’s legalization policy that emphasized selling equity instead of cannabis, the fact remains cannabis in Alberta is creating value.

Cannabis in Alberta: Tax Advantages

Cannabis in Alberta

When it comes to cannabis in Alberta, Randy Rowe, President of Grow Up Conference, understands the potential but also the risks involved.

The Grow Up Conference attracts industry leaders, from licensed producers to craft growers, influencers, and professionals. And for the first year, the business expo is in Edmonton, Alberta.

“There are a lot of things in Alberta that are very favourable for cannabis,” Randy tells CLN over the phone.

With a robust agricultural community and an annual Stampede rodeo, Alberta has a reputation as Canada’s “Texas,” meaning, you expect more beer and whiskey drinkers than cannabis consumers. 

But this is one stereotype that has proven untrue. “The communities are welcoming of cannabis,” says Randy. Alberta has more cannabis retailers per capita than Ontario. Randy also notes, “You’ve got the tax rate which is only 5%, which makes it very manageable to do business there.”

Indeed, unlike other Canadian provinces, Alberta has no provincial sales tax. Ottawa mandates a 5% goods and services tax (GST).

Additionally, Alberta‘s provincial tax rates are the best in the country. With 10% owed on the first $131,220 taxable income and only 15% on income over $314,928.

Cannabis in Alberta: Stigma 

Cannabis in Alberta

Of course, as with other Canadian provinces, there is still a significant stigma surrounding cannabis. However, Alberta isn’t as bad as Quebec (which has a government-retail system, a ban on most edibles, and a possible unlawful prohibition on home growing).

That said, parts of Alberta are still weary of cannabis. As Randy told CLN, “Edmonton’s a little more relaxed than Calgary.”

“When we were looking for venues in Calgary,” for the Grow Up Conference, “a lot of venues wouldn’t allow consumption on site. We have an outdoor smoking area… but in Calgary they were a little more stricter than they were in Edmonton.”

This doesn’t surprise many cannabis connoisseurs who remember Dana Larsen’s arrest in Calgary like it was yesterday.

That said, Alberta is moving in the right direction. Randy notes that the province now allows festivals to have a consumption area for cannabis. However, this involves bringing your own.

“At a music festival, you can go up and buy a beer and have a beer at the festival. We should be able to do the same with cannabis,” Randy says. “You should be able to actually purchase and consume on-site.”

Consumption Lounges & Tourism

Cannabis in Alberta

Regarding consumption sites, Randy echoes the sentiments of virtually every cannabis producer and consumer in the country.

“I think those need to be more accessible,” he says. “You’ve got to have an area where people can go and consume that’s not outside.”

Randy envisions “consumption infused beverages or infused dining experiences,” which will help Canada’s cannabis economy.

Alberta‘s working on this kind of mandate to allow for different zoning and lifting some of the restrictions on cannabis,” Randy adds, but can’t speak to how far in the process the government is.

“We do have people doing a big push on cannabis tourism,” Randy says. “I think in terms of hospitality, it’s a fantastic way to promote Canada as a nation that’s legalized cannabis. Let’s have tourism for people to come in and have canna-friendly hotels and canna-friendly restaurants.”

Adding, “I would like to see a little more openness with consumption.”

On the Cannabis Act Review

Cannabis in Alberta

Randy again reflects the opinion of most, if not all, cannabis consumers in Canada. That being, Ottawa’s Cannabis Act is too strict. 

Health Canada has got to let everybody run their own province the way they want to do it,” says Randy. Agreeing with CLN that provincial governments should handle cannabis cultivation licenses the same way they deal with breweries.

Ultimately, if the first iteration of cannabis legalization emphasized public health, the review’s conclusions should focus on tourism and fewer restrictions from Ottawa.

“The sky hasn’t fallen,” Randy says, “People aren’t walking around like zombies in the streets. I think, as it matures, the rules are going to change and we just have to keep pushing and lobbying for change and implementing new strategies for cannabis.”

But as the industry sheds jobs, there is fear there might not be much of the cannabis industry left by the time Ottawa completes its Cannabis Act review.

Speaking about the absurd structure of cannabis excise taxes, Randy says: “It’s killing us. The taxes are crazy. Some of these companies are going to be shutting their doors just because they can’t afford to stay open.”

Adding that the government should not tax people to the point of bankruptcy. 

Grow Up Conference

This will be the 7th year for the Grow Up Conference and Expo. From May 28-30 at the Edmonton Convention Centre, participants can learn and discover what’s new with Cannabis in Alberta and Canada.

There are also workshops focusing on genetics, cultivation, extracts and processing. As well as the Canadian Cannabis Championship, which features a flower and hash competition as well as live on-site judging. 

What are your thoughts on cannabis in Alberta? Should Ottawa give more cannabis autonomy to the provinces? Be sure to let us know by leaving a comment below!

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Cannabis pop-up stores coming to Alberta trade shows, festivals




The Canadian province of Alberta is revamping its regulations to allow cannabis retailers to operate temporary stores at age-gated events such as trade shows and festivals starting next year.

Alberta is Canada’s second-largest cannabis retail market, trailing only Ontario.

The regulatory overhaul, announced this week, is part of provincial lawmakers’ review of the recreational cannabis market to determine what regulations are working, what needs to be improved and what’s redundant.

The new rules will reduce barriers and costs for legal cannabis retailers by providing more flexibility managing in-stock merchandise, the Alberta government said in a news release.

Raj Grover, CEO of Calgary, Alberta-based retail operator High Tide, told MJBizDaily he looks forward to bringing Canna Cabana pop-up stores to festivals across the province this summer.

“Alberta has demonstrated that it is serious about building a sustainable cannabis industry that will continue to employ thousands of Albertans,” he said.

Grover said Alberta’s move sends a signal to the province’s legal cannabis industry that Premier Danielle Smith and Minister of Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction Dale Nally are ready to back their words with action.

“Within weeks of being sworn into cabinet, Minister Nally proactively reached out to the industry and hosted several roundtables with licensed producers and retailers,” Grover said.

“At those roundtables, several proposals were put forward to better equip Alberta’s cannabis industry to capture market share from the illicit market.

“The measures announced (Monday) are tangible first steps toward ensuring the sustainability of Alberta’s cannabis retailers.”

Since government regulations largely dictate revenue opportunities for heavily regulated cannabis companies, Grover is calling on Canada’s federal government to take note of the latest provincial move and to facilitate more business-friendly federal regulations.

The province also is planning to allow regulated cannabis retailers to keep products in locked display cases when stores are closed.

Currently, stores must move everything into secured storage rooms at the close of each business day.

The province also is removing restrictions on sales and transfers between cannabis retailers.

Lastly, the province plans to further allow Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis to establish limits on resale markups.

All of the changes take effect Jan. 31.

“The regulatory updates are a significant stride toward enhancing stability and reducing red tape for cannabis retailers while maintaining a commitment to public safety,” Marcie Kiziak, president of cannabis retail at Calgary-based SNDL, said in a statement.

“The improvements enable more effective inventory management, increased promotional opportunities and continued migration from the illicit market to better support the entire retail network.”

Cannabis sales in Alberta through September amounted to 662.1 million Canadian dollars ($496.5 million) in 2023.

Only Ontario had higher sales in that time frame, totaling CA$1.5 billion.

Alberta has been one of the more business-friendly locations for cannabis operators.

This year, the province has taken a number of steps designed to further improve the business environment, including:

  • Reducing the fees to list a new product in Alberta to CA$250, down 83.3% from CA$1,500.
  • Cutting shipping fees for retailers by 11%.
  • Allowing licensed producers (or their registered representatives) to provide retail cannabis stores with samples to promote their products and increase product knowledge.

Other changes include:

  • Allowing cannabis retailers the option to open for business at 9 a.m. MT.
  • Enabling Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis to supply sales data free of charge.
  • Removing restrictions for retail cannabis signage.

Matt Lamers can be reached at

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