The Canadian government announced new legislation to legalize cannabis for recreational use in April 2017, paving the way for the country to become the first in the G7 to fully legalize the cannabis. The federal government legalized recreational cannabis on October 17th, 2018, but left it up to the provinces and territories to oversee distribution and sales.

A recent study from Deloitte Private results suggest that on sales of recreational cannabis alone, the Canadian marketplace could be as much as $4.9bn per year to start – a number on par with the Canadian spirit market (whiskey, vodka, rum, etc.). At the upper threshold, which takes into account the people who are “likely to consume,” cannabis sales alone could be as high as $8.7bn, similar to sales generated by wine. The potential economic impact of legalized recreational pot could be more than $22 billion, including transportation, licensing fees and security.

Cannabis Legalization in Alberta

The Alberta government framework to regulate marijuana leaves open the possibility private companies could sell adult-use products.

Albertans are allowed to consume cannabis in their homes and in some public spaces where smoking tobacco is allowed, but use is banned in cars.

Cannabis Retail Sales Regulations:

  • Albertans of legal age (18) are able to purchase cannabis products from retailers that receive their products from a government-regulated distributor.
  • Online sales and home delivery are only available through a single website operated by the AGLC at No other online sales or delivery is allowed.
  • Only specialized retail outlets are able to sell cannabis, up to a maximum of 30 grams per purchase, and are not able to sell cannabis if they sell alcohol, tobacco or pharmaceuticals.
  • The regulations establish that private cannabis stores can be located with a 100-meter buffer between cannabis retailers and schools and provincial health care facilities.

As of December 2020, the province’s stores have combined to sell more than $865 million worth of legal cannabis since October 17, 2018.

Data collected by Statistics Canada show that retail sales in Alberta reached about $64 million in December 2020, then decreased to $60 million in March 2021 and exceeded $65 million in December. Total sales reached about $700 million in 2021 and 2022 brought in $797 million, peaking in December at almost $74 million.

As of April 2023, 756 retailers were selling cannabis across Alberta (277 online), including 193 stores in Calgary.

Alberta Cannabis Projections

The Cannabis Intelligence Briefing: Canada Leads the Way on Global Cannabis Legalization report, published by Arcview Market Research and in partnership with BDS Analytics, suggests Alberta cannabis market will grow to about $940 million in 2024.

The country’s spirit sales totaled 18,127,362 (9 l cases) in 2016 and Alberta accounted for 2,950,420 (9 l cases) of that total, according to Statistics Canada, more than 15%. Thus, Alberta cannabis market, only for recreational part, could be $1bn per year.

Alberta Cannabis Market Infographics

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