Alberta became the third province to unveil its plan for the rollout of legalized marijuana on Wednesday, following announcements from Ontario and New Brunswick last month.
The western province opted for consistency in setting an age minimum for cannabis use, which, at 18, will be the same as its current legal drinking age. Youth possession will be enforced with a zero-tolerance policy. The government is also looking to ban recreational consumption of the drug near schools, hospitals, and areas frequented by children.
Meanwhile, it will be permitted to be consumed in most public areas where smoking is allowed. There will, however, be a public possession limit of 30 grams.
The biggest unknown that still remains following the announcement is how Alberta will regulate sales. Whereas Ontario came out and immediately stated that it will set up a government-run distribution network like the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), Alberta has not clarified whether it will go down that route or opt for a private sales system.
Regardless of which direction it goes in, though, the only businesses with the authority to sell cannabis will be specialized ones. Obtaining a permit for that sort of specialization will be different from that of alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, etc. Oversight of all sales is slated to fall under the mandate of the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission.
Coincidentally, Alberta's unveiling was not the only marijuana-related announcement to take place Wednesday. In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau threw Premiers and their provinces a curveball by announcing the federal government's intentions to institute a 50-50 revenue split on marijuana taxes. The proposed program would reportedly tax $ 1 per gram on purchases under $10 and 10 per cent on amounts greater than $10.
B.C. Premier John Horgan, who hadn't heard anything about the proposed tax until it was announced, expressed some concern that federal sharing could cut into an already uncertain revenue stream.
"I believe provinces are concerned that there's a whole bunch of costs being imposed on us in terms of distribution, in terms of regulation, in terms of making sure that the distribution chain is free from criminal elements and so on. But now we're going to have to share whatever modest revenue there might be."