Currently, Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission has control of online sales through its Albertacannabis.org site. That is about to change thanks to Bill 80, Alberta’s Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act, causing the only authorized online retailer for cannabis products, to withdraw from the digital marketplace and make room for licensed retailers to install their own e-commerce platforms.
Alberta’s cannabis industry is moving toward a free-market approach, with the province set to hand over full responsibility of online sales and home delivery to private pot shops. The AGLCC will still have a regulatory role- and help ensure minors don’t access online sales venues. While these retailers may sell products on a mobile version of their website, they will not be allowed to use third-party apps.
Omar Khan, senior vice president of corporate and public affairs with High Tide Inc., which operates 57 Canna Cabana stores in Alberta says the change will help with the competition surrounding the illicit market, which is still resilient, according to Khan.
Khan said High Tide has an advantage in that it has shops in other provinces with established online portals, while smaller retailers in Alberta could face building their e-commerce component from scratch.
“It’s good for a lot of the entrepreneurs who have put their own money on the line and set up regulated legal cannabis stores in Alberta,”
Omar Khan, Senior VP of corporate and public affair, High Tide Inc.
Not only will this be more convenient for customers, but there is anticipation that this is going to increase private-sector investment and increase job creation in the province.
How have other Provinces Managed
As demonstrated in provinces with existing e-commerce cannabis portals like Ontario, B.C., and Manitoba, Khan said the private sector as a whole has shown it can be done responsibly.
Online sales and delivery for Canna Cabana stores in Alberta should function similar to the company’s Ontario operation, Khan said, which involves selecting the nearest store from the retailer’s website, where consumers must confirm that they are of legal age to purchase cannabis before placing an order that is then delivered by a store driver who completes a second identification check at the door.
The good news is, new data shows sales made through Ontario’s legal cannabis channels have overtaken those made through the illicit market for the first time. With working towards fewer black market sales and supporting the growth of a vibrant, legal cannabis industry, steps are slowly but surely being made.