Alberta cannabis stores will now be able to open for trading on Christmas Day as part of an ongoing drive to reduce red tape.

Both cannabis stores and liquor stores were previously prevented from welcoming customers on Dec. 25. However, Alberta Gaming Liquor Cannabis (AGLC) has decided to scrap that regulation in order to “support licensees in making business decisions that best support their operational needs”.

Stores can now sell marijuana during their usual trading hours on Christmas Day, allowing Albertans to get high in anticipation of their turkey and stuffing. However, they will not be able to buy edibles.

The first products are starting to appear on shelves this week after Canada legalized edibles, beverages, and other concentrates as part of a move dubbed Cannabis 2.0. However, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec all run their own distribution systems – AGLC in Alberta – rather than permitting producers to directly supply retailers.

That means stock will not be available for Alberta’s cannabis stores until January, as the need for a middleman makes the process more convoluted.

The recreational cannabis market has flourished in Alberta since it lifted a moratorium on new retail licenses in May 2019. It put a hiatus on new store permits due to a chronic supply shortage that hit the industry after legalization in October 2018, but AGLC managed to tie up plenty of deals with producers in the ensuing months.

By August the number of cannabis stores had surged past the 250 mark, and there are now 373 in the province. That means Alberta has more cannabis retailers than any other province, with companies like Fire & Flower, Choom, Westleaf, and National Access Cannabis Corp. building up sizeable retail empires there.

Figures from government agency Statistics Canada show that Alberta has generated more cannabis sales than all other provinces, despite having a smaller population than Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia.

Ontario is now following in its footsteps by going down a more private supply route and scrapping its much maligned retail lottery. Quebec remains the most draconian of all Canadian provinces when it comes to cannabis legislation, and some of its decisions defy federal legislation. That leaves Alberta as the nation’s cannabis capital right now.

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