News & Updates

Update on the legalization of cannabis from the Honourable Marlin Schmidt, Acting Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

December 22, 2017

Thank you for sharing your views about the legalization of cannabis in Alberta.  Your input, along with feedback from tens of thousands of other Albertans, helped guide our government in developing a system for legalized cannabis that puts the health and safety of Albertans at the forefront.

Between June and October, Albertans were invited to share their views about legalization and what our system for legalized cannabis might look like.  More than 60,000 Albertans provided input, along with more than 100 organizations, making this one of the most successful public engagements in the Alberta government’s history.  Albertans participated in an online survey, via telephone, and in-person surveys, focus groups and stakeholder meetings, or provided input through written submissions.

The system we are moving forward with is founded on four policy priorities: keeping cannabis out of the hands of children; protecting public health; promoting safety on roads, in workplaces and in public spaces; and limiting the illicit market.

Once cannabis is legal, Albertans will be able to buy cannabis from privately owned and operated retailers.  Similar to the model currently in place for alcohol, the Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission (AGLC) will provide clear oversight over the distribution of cannabis, ensuring only legally produced products come into the Alberta retail market.  It will also have the authority to license retailers, and will enforce strict rules established by government that cannabis retailers must follow.

Retailers will only be able to sell cannabis products – no alcohol, tobacco, or pharmaceutical sales will be permitted alongside cannabis.  The retailers will also need to follow strict rules that are consistent across the province, including a set range for hours of operation, minimum distances from places like schools, and standard training requirements for all staff.  All retailers will need to undergo background checks.

Cannabis will also be available online through a government-operated website.  Albertans told us they supported the online sale of cannabis, but had concerns about keeping cannabis out of the hands of youth.  We are taking these concerns seriously, and with strong government oversight we will ensure age verification during transactions and at delivery.

The minimum age for buying and possessing cannabis in Alberta will be 18, which aligns with the minimum age for alcohol and tobacco, and the federal government’s minimum age.

An adult may possess 30 grams of cannabis at any given time, but there will be zero tolerance for youth under the legal age of 18 possessing any cannabis.  Anyone under 18 caught with five grams or less of cannabis will be subject to sanctions similar to underage possession of alcohol and tobacco, such as tickets and fines.  Possession over five grams continues to be subject to federal legislation.

Once cannabis is legal, people over 18 will be allowed to smoke or vape cannabis in their homes and in some public places.  It will be restricted in vehicles, on hospital grounds, school properties, in cannabis retail outlets, anywhere where smoking or vaping tobacco is already restricted, and within prescribed distances from areas frequented by children like spray parks, zoos, and playgrounds.

Albertans will be able to grow cannabis at home, up to four plants per household – not per person.

Our government recently passed legislation that enables us to begin putting elements of the system in place as we prepare our province for legalization in July 2018.  Many of the specific regulations around legalization – such as the requirements potential retailers must meet to sell cannabis – will be announced as they become available.

Please visit for continuous updates on cannabis legalization in Alberta.

Once again, thank you for your interest and your input.  With your help, we look forward to creating a safe and responsible system for legalized cannabis that works for all Albertans.


Marlin Schmidt

Acting Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

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