Alberta releases proposed legalized cannabis rules, sets 18 as minimum age

Residents have just over three weeks to provide their feedback

Alberta is proposing to make 18 the minimum age to use cannabis when new laws liberalizing marijuana kick in next summer.

But the province hasn’t decided yet on whether to sell cannabis through government-run stores or through private operators.

Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said Alberta residents will have just over three weeks to give feedback on the proposal and legislation will be introduced in the months ahead.

Under Ganley’s proposed plan, the government would directly manage the wholesale distribution of cannabis. Cannabis also won’t be sold in any store that handles liquor, tobacco or pharmaceutical drugs.

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The province says it will not allow online sales until it learns more about how to keep youth from getting cannabis through the internet.

The government did not propose a tax rate but said it will continue to work with Ottawa to set a levy that is fair and will avoid pushing customers toward a black market.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has proposed a federal excise tax on cannabis, with the provinces and territories receiving half the revenue.

The proposal would see each gram of pot subject to an excise tax of $1 on sales up to $10, and a 10% tax on sales of more than $10.

However, premiers say if the provinces are on the hook for the lion’s share of the cost of regulation and enforcement, they should get the bulk of the tax revenue.

All provinces are consulting or rolling out details on cannabis after the federal government tabled legislation in the spring to legalize recreational use of marijuana.

Ottawa has remained firm on a start date of July 1, 2018, despite pushback from provinces, territories and police organizations that it might be too ambitious given the complexity of regulations involved.

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Last month, Ontario announced it plans to set the minimum age at 19 and sell cannabis through government-run outlets. New Brunswick has said it will use a Crown corporation model, and a legislature committee has recommended the minimum age be set at 19.

In Alberta, the minimum age of 18 was set to align with the age restriction on alcohol and tobacco use.

It will keep the public possession limit for adults at 30 grams, about 40 joints, as suggested by Ottawa.

There will be zero tolerance for youth possession. Anyone caught with five grams or less will get a ticket and have their parents told, and those who have more than five grams will be subject to Criminal Code penalties.

Albertans will be allowed to grow four plants inside their homes, but not in their yards, for personal use.

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