Will Alberta be the first province to endorse private marijuana retail?

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Alberta could become the first province in Canada to allow some private sector participation in the sale of recreational cannabis when it unveils its retail framework next week, a move that would make it a haven for marijuana entrepreneurs.

According to the Calgary Herald, Alberta’s ruling NDP government is weighing public safety, retail efficiency and the logistics of setting up a province-wide sales network by next summer, when recreational marijuana is expected to be legalized across Canada, Premier Rachel Notely told reporters.

“One of the issues there to balance is public safety and quality control in terms of keeping the product going to the people who should legally have it versus getting it out the door as quickly as we can,” she said, according to the Herald. “Going the route of the private sector meets the latter objective, going the route of the publicly-managed system … meets the former.”

Alberta released its rec MJ framework earlier this month, but delayed deciding whether it would be sold in private versus publicly-owned outlets.

So far no province has endorsed private sector sales of recreational cannabis. However, 76% of 159 municipal candidates in Alberta support city licensing of cannabis retail sales, according to a survey reported in the Edmonton Journal.

Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick have indicated a preference for or unveiled plans to hand recreational marijuana sales to civil servants, which would eliminate private sector participation and restrict business opportunities.

British Columbia’s retail framework is expected to include the private sector in some way, but details won’t be released until next spring.