Alberta’s economy struggled in 2018 as a result of low oil prices, but the legalization of marijuana has been a relative bright spot, according to the premier.
Rachel Notley said in a year-end interview with CTV Calgary that Alberta appears to be “well ahead of the rest of the country” when it comes to retail cannabis.
As of New Year’s Day, there were 65 licensed retailers in the province, according to the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Corporation, which licenses brick-and-mortar stores.
That’s compared to 12 government-operated shops in Quebec, one in British Columbia (with a second expected to open this week), and zero in Ontario, where retail locations won’t be allowed until April. Ontario will allow up to 25 privately-run stores in its initial phase.
“We’re pleased that the AGLC has been so far ahead on this,” Notley said.
“We have more product and more access to the product in Alberta than in other parts of the country,” she added.
Legalization has gone relatively smoothly, according to the premier, with police facing fewer problems than expected.
“We’ve heard from some law enforcement officials that things have been a little bit less chaotic than they thought,” Notley said.
The premier also spoke at length about the province’s problem getting its oil products to market, which she blames on the failure of the federal government to get pipelines built.
Notley said she’s “relatively optimistic” that the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion through B.C. will go ahead. “But the problem is, it’s going to be delayed,” she said.
The premier said the lack of pipeline capacity is costing the economy $80 million dollars a day because it means the province is forced to sell their products at low prices.
“This is every Canadian’s problem,” she said. “Quite frankly, most Canadians now are starting to get that.”