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Alberta Sets Legal Age For Cannabis Consumption At 18, Weighs Cannabis Lounges

Alberta is following in Quebec’s footsteps by setting the legal age for purchasing and consuming cannabis at 18.

The Alberta government unveiled its provincial cannabis pitch on Wednesday, with proposed guidelines that include: restricting public possession to 30 grams; limiting sales to specialty stores separate from alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceuticals; prohibiting smoking or vaping in vehicles; limiting purchases to 30 grams; allowing households to grow up to four plants; and banning outdoor growing. 

The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission will be the central wholesaler for all cannabis products, but the provincial government hasn’t determined whether stores will publicly or privately managed.

"Some of the pros with respect to a government-owned system would be that it allows us slightly greater control in terms of ensuring product isn't flowing in and out from a black or grey market, and it allows us a little bit better control of ensuring we're keeping it out of the hands of minors," said Alberta’s Justice Minister, Kathleen Ganley.

"With respect to a private system, it's a little bit easier to set up. It's likely there would be a little bit more risk and a little bit more cost up front with a public model."

Online sales will be prohibited for now.

"We recognize the importance of this option being available, but we want to be absolutely confident we can verify the person ordering cannabis and the person accepting delivery is of age," said Ganley.

While the price of cannabis in Alberta hasn’t been decided yet, Ganley said it will be aimed at slashing the black market. The province is also hoping to keep most of the tax revenue from cannabis sales.

"There's a couple of factors, one is that in order to ensure we move as many people as possible from the illegal market to the legal market, we can't set the tax rate too high," she said.

"And given that the provinces are bearing the majority of the costs of setting up this system, we are suggesting most of that revenue should be coming to us."

In terms of public consumption in Alberta, locations where cannabis can be smoked or vaped will fall under existing municipal smoking laws. That means hospitals, school grounds and any areas frequented by children will be off limits.

While the provincial government is red-lighting cannabis cafes and lounges for now, they are seeking feedback from residents on the issue.

Officials plan to introduce legislation regarding cannabis-impaired driving before nationwide legalization next July.

There will be zero tolerance for cannabis use by minors, with possession of less than five grams by anyone under 18 resulting in the cannabis being seized, parents being notified and a ticket being issued. Possession of more than five grams could mean criminal prosecution for minors.

Albertans have until Oct. 27 to provide feedback on the proposal.

h/t CBC News


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