CALGARY — The Alberta government says it is well-prepared for the legalization of cannabis this week and will be providing more funding to help municipalities with policing.
Finance Minister Joe Ceci announced Monday that $11.2 million will go to municipalities of more than 5,000 people that have their own policing costs. Just over half the money — 60 per cent — will be made available this fiscal year, with the remaining funds distributed next year.
“These grants are intended to provide short-term funding until we know the real-world impacts of cannabis legislation,” Ceci said.
“Wednesday marks the start of legalization. And while we are prepared for this shift, it is not the end of our government’s work. With our (Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis commission) partner, we will work continuously to monitor this system in order to promote and protect public health and safety.”
The AGLC says 17 retail shops have been approved so far to open Wednesday with interim licences. It expects another 250 locations could open within one year.
“Our team has been working very hard for many months to make sure Albertans will have access to legal cannabis on Day 1,” said commission president Alain Maisonneuve.
“We anticipate the rate of store openings will increase significantly throughout October, November and December as we continue to process applications.”
The commission has contracts with 15 licenced marijuana producers, three of which are in Alberta, and is confident it has enough supply to meet demand, he added.
About 1,000 retail workers have also completed a required training program.
The commission’s online retail store, albertacannabis.org — the only legal online offering in Alberta — will also launch just after midnight Wednesday. Maisonneuve said the website has a thorough age verification process.