Bill would allow municipalities in Alberta to create entertainment districts with public drinking

Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis is taking action to allow private companies to sell cannabis online and relax rules around alcoholic beverages.

A new omnibus bill tabled in the Alberta legislature on Thursday would allow businesses already with physical cannabis stores in the province to sell online as well.

If Bill 80, the Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act, 2021 (# 2), authorizes the legislature, the AGLC would relinquish its role as the sole legal online cannabis retailer within 90 days. following the opening of the market.

Finance Minister Travis Toews said private retailers would also be able to sell glassware and clothing at these online stores. He hopes this decision will make a dent in the illegal drug market.

“We would expect a stronger online presence in legal commerce to have real potential to displace some of the illicit commerce that is currently taking place,” Toews said Thursday.

If the bill passes, the AGLC will shut down its website within 90 days of being approved to sell cannabis online. The commission would forgo approximately $ 200,000 in annual sales.

The Alberta government wants to hand control over online cannabis sales to the private market and shut down the AGLC website for purchases. (Craig Ryan / CBC)

Bill 80 seeks to amend nine pieces of legislation governing the insurance industry, post-secondary institutions, oil and gas, justice, liquor and cannabis, and more.

If passed as drafted, municipalities would also be empowered to create “entertainment districts” – areas where adults can drink alcohol in public spaces beyond bars and restaurants.

Toews said he could open the door to kiosks and food trucks to serve alcohol.

“We have received a lot of interest and enthusiasm from various parties and believe that this initiative presents an exciting opportunity to attract and support tourism and create positive economic benefits for surrounding businesses”, a- he declared.

The bill proposes that Albertans serve free homemade beer, wine and cider at private parties, such as weddings.

Religious groups could also use sacramental wine in ceremonies without the approval of the AGLC.

Amendments by the Human Rights Committee

The government is also seeking to make changes to the Alberta Human Rights Act to continue to tackle a backlog of complaints.

As of March this year, the Human Rights Commission had a backlog of more than 2,000 cases. While previous changes to deal with delays have shortened the time it takes to resolve cases, government officials say it still takes 123 days on average to reach a resolution.

The bill would allow electronic filing of documents to the commission, appoint a deputy director to help manage complaints, allow the director to send complaints directly to a tribunal, and change the process for appealing tribunal decisions.

“It’s time to make it easier and faster for Albertans to assert and enforce their human rights,” Associate Red Tape Reduction Minister Tanya Fir said Thursday.

To make it easier to deal with orphaned oil and gas sites, the bill would allow the Minister of Energy to appoint someone to take responsibility for an abandoned lease. Currently, this process has to go through the courts.

The bill also formalizes a previous government commitment to delay its decision to potentially limit where certain physicians can practice in Alberta.

A law passed in 2019 allows the Minister of Health to tell doctors where they can and cannot work. It was one of many points of contention between doctors and the provincial government, which has yet to negotiate a new deal.

This law was due to come into force on April 1, 2022. The bill would postpone it indefinitely, as a compromise while the government negotiates with doctors.

Toews said Thursday he had no deadline to reach a new tentative deal with the Alberta Medical Association. WADA members voted to reject the latest deal proposed in March.

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