‘Considerable interest’ in Alberta survey on private-sector online cannabis sales

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Alberta’s marijuana retailer regulator is consulting the industry regarding the possibility of online cannabis sales by private-sector stores as well as sales of non-cannabis items such as apparel.

Both could open up new revenue and branding opportunities for hundreds of retailers and the producers who supply them.

The consultation, launched Monday, was sent to nearly 2,000 stakeholders “and has generated considerable interest thus far,” an Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) spokesperson told MJBizDaily in a statement.

“AGLC will release a document summarizing the feedback received,” the spokesperson wrote.

“While we don’t have a firm timeline at this time, all notable updates specific to the consultation will be posted to AGLC’s webpage.”

Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) is currently the only legal online retailer of recreational marijuana in the province, through AlbertaCannabis.org.

Several other Canadian provinces, including Ontario and Quebec, have also restricted online cannabis sales to government-owned corporations.

The AGLC survey asks respondents to rate their level of interest in selling cannabis online and suggests that licensed Alberta cannabis retailers would need “to obtain an endorsement on their license” in order to sell online.

The survey also asks for feedback on whether Alberta cannabis retailers should be permitted to sell more non-cannabis items besides marijuana accessories and for their thoughts on whether sales of those items should be capped, as they are for liquor stores in Alberta.

Specifically, the survey references “additional opportunities for in-store cannabis branding and marketing (that) would be helpful for supporting both cannabis retail and licensed cannabis producer businesses.”

The AGLC spokesperson gave the example of T-shirts, saying sales of such items “could support cannabis retailers by creating greater flexibility and increasing revenue.”

“Other provinces permit licensed retailers to sell non-cannabis items such as shopping bags and gift cards alongside cannabis,” the spokesperson added.

“It is too early to speculate if food and beverages could possibly be sold as well.”

The possible regulatory changes would require amendments to Alberta’s Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act.

Alberta is home to nearly 650 cannabis retail licensees, more than any other Canadian province except Ontario.

Albertans spent nearly 59 million Canadian dollars ($48.3 million) on regulated recreational cannabis in May, according to the latest official retail sales statistics.

The consultation survey is available here.

The survey closes June 30.

Solomon Israel can be reached at solomon.israel@mjbizdaily.com.