Opening a cannabis store in Alberta requires a large number of steps, including obtaining approval from the Alberta Liquor Gaming and Cannabis Commission (the “AGLC“). The Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act, RSA 2000, c G-1 (the “Act“) has provided the AGLC with the authority to regulate and licence retail cannabis stores in Alberta. The AGLC has created the Retail Cannabis Store Handbook which outlines the rules that retail cannabis stores are required to follow.
For potential retail cannabis store entrepreneurs, the Retail Cannabis Store Handbook provides certain structural and security requirements that are required for all retail cannabis stores. We would recommend that these structural requirements should be reviewed before purchasing or leasing a potential space.
Generally, the design and construction of retail cannabis stores must meet local municipal building code and zoning requirements. Retail cannabis stores must not be accessible through another business and must include:
- a sales area;
- a separate entrance/exit;
- product receiving capability; and
- a secure storage room and display for cannabis and accessories.
Retail cannabis stores are prohibited from having cannabis products, accessories or any other cannabis related item or material visible from the exterior of the premises. Drive‐through windows are also prohibited at cannabis retail stores.
In addition, a retail cannabis store cannot undertake major structural changes or be relocated without the prior approval of the AGLC.
A retail cannabis store licence will not be issued to an applicant who has not met the physical security requirements for the premises.
To meet the physical security requirements, a retail cannabis store must be protected by a professionally installed and monitored alarm system that contains:
- detectors to indicate unauthorized attempts to tamper with, open, enter or penetrate perimeter entry points, perimeter windows and the secure cannabis storage room;
- detectors to indicate unauthorized movement within the premises including the secure cannabis storage room;
- the capability to detect any malfunctions or attempts to tamper with the system, either of which must be immediately repaired by a professional technician;
- panic/robbery button(s) installed at all point of sale positions; and
- a plan identifying system compliance that must be submitted to the AGLC for approval along with any changes to the approved plan or system.
A retail cannabis store must have a digital camera security system that contains, amongst other requirements:
- cameras enclosed in the ceiling or in domes that are linked to a monitor and a recording system located in a secure area within the premises;
- cameras and lighting positioned to clearly capture 24 hour coverage of activity identifying all individuals entering/exiting the premises, including staff areas;
- a 60 day minimum recording retention in a common format located on the premises that is easily accessible, captured, viewed and capable of producing both real time digital colour video and still images that clearly identify individuals and contain a time/date stamp not obscuring the image;
- weekly tests to ensure that all cameras and recording equipment are functioning properly; and
- a log of the weekly test results that must be kept and made available to the AGLC upon request.
A retail cannabis store must secure perimeter entry points against unauthorized access by:
- the use of 1.5 mm (16 gauge) hollow metal doors with 1.9 mm (14 gauge) metal frame and tamper proof hinges at all entry points other than the customer entrance;
- commercial grade non‐residential locks on all access points with secured tamper proof strike plate where the locking device must penetrate the door frame at minimum of 1.25 cm;
- ensuring that the customer entrance is constructed of commercial grade material sufficient to secure against unauthorized access; and
- ensuring that the overhead receiving door is constructed of commercial grade material and locking device is sufficient to secure against unauthorized access.
All cannabis displayed within the locked showcase must be in its original sealed package or an approved container. This may require the case to be affixed to the wall.
In addition, all cannabis accessories not displayed in a customer area must be stored in a locked storage room accessible only by authorized staff. All cannabis not displayed in a customer area, and after operating hours all displayed cannabis, must be stored in a locked secure cannabis storage room accessible only by authorized staff.
The secure cannabis storage room must meet the requirements provided for in the Retail Cannabis Store Handbook.
For further information regarding the structural requirements of cannabis retail stores, please contact Field Law’s cannabis industry group.
Each retail cannabis store must have a distinct business name reflecting the nature of the business. The business name must be approved by the AGLC and must not registered by another business interest. The use of the term “Alberta” or “AGLC” is prohibited in a store name.
The business name of the cannabis store is required to be prominently displayed in signage at all public access points of the retail cannabis store. Signage and contents must comply with all federal, provincial and municipal requirements.
In addition, signage must be in good taste and not depict a lifestyle, endorsement, person, character or animal. Signage must not promote intoxication. Terms and images such as, but not limited to, “chronic,” “stoned” or “high” are not permitted. Lastly, signage that claims beneficial health effects, or makes a statement regarding increased potency or concentration are not permitted.
Generally speaking, signs or identification must not include graphics which:
- appeal to minors;
- show the use of cannabis;
- display intoxication;
- display or identify a cannabis product or accessory;
- display a price or indicate a price advantage; or
- display any sporting or cultural event or activity.
For further information relating to signage, branding, and marketing restrictions that apply to cannabis businesses, please contact Field Law’s cannabis industry group or Mark Mielke at 403-260-8503.