The Alberta government says it finally “has the clarity it needs to move forward,” with cannabis set to be legalized in Canada on Oct. 17.
The start date was unveiled Wednesday by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“The Alberta government is ready to manage legalized cannabis in a way that protects Albertans and promotes public health,” Alberta Justice Minister and Solicitor General Kathleen Ganley said in a news release.
“Over the past 15 months, our government has built a system for legalized cannabis focused on keeping cannabis out of the hands of children, keeping profits away from criminals and protecting Alberta’s roads, workplaces and public spaces.”
The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission will begin finalizing contracts, stocking cannabis and selling and delivering the product to retail outlets, she said.
The commission will also issue conditional licences to approved licensees, who can begin setting up their stores, but no products can be sold until Oct. 17.
Municipalities will also need to approve pot retailers before they can open in the fall.
In Calgary, more than 200 applications have been received by city hall, with many would-be operators already staking out their turf at storefront outlets all over the city, especially in the Beltline, Kensington area and along 17th Avenue S.W.
The city will regulate stores through development and building permits, and business licences.
Retail outlets will be subject to separation distances from other pot stores, schools, emergency shelters and daycares.
In April, city council banned the use of marijuana in public but directed city administration to study options for the creation of designated cannabis-use areas. A report detailing possible locations is expected back at council on Monday.
For police, the testing of motorists remains a question, but impaired driving remains a crime for any driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The provincial gaming and liquor commission will be the sole legal distributor of online cannabis sales in Alberta. Thirteen companies have already been contracted to supply the government with pot.
It remains to be seen how the legalization of cannabis will play out in so many areas of life, but the Alberta government says it will be monitoring the effect.
“Once cannabis is legal across the country in 17 weeks, our work will not be over,” said Ganley. “Our government will be watching closely to ensure our legal cannabis system is working, and we will make changes as necessary.”