With support from their national parliament and the blessings of Prime Minister Trudeau, Canada is quickly emerging to be a global leader in the cannabis trade.

That’s not to say Canada doesn’t have its issues. The political nature of the country allows its provinces a lot of leeway in crafting legislation, and for cannabis, that means each independent state is coming up with its own rules and systems of governing oversight. In Canada, much like in the United States, the tension is strong regarding who will have control over this new and profitable market. Rumblings of restricted markets and favorability for major corporate production has long-time activists concerned, particularly in British Columbia, where cannabis has long-enjoyed cultural acceptance and lax enforcement of prohibition. Just this past week, cannabis giant Canopy Growth made moves that will ostensibly make it the largest cannabis cultivation facility in the world.

Now, BC’s neighbor to the east is working to expand opportunities for smaller operators and support a more competitive playing field. Alberta recently announced its process for licensing, and it includes a lot of potential businesses:

“The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission will oversee the distribution and enforcement of the province’s cannabis retail system. It will also be responsible for online sales, but the details of how the online services will operate won’t be released until later this year.

“The AGLC estimates that in the first year it will issue 250 licenses, which will have to be renewed annually at a cost of $700 per year.

“The agency will start accepting applications March 6. According to David Berry, vice-president of regulatory services, each application must be submitted with a criminal background check consent, detailed financial information and associated fees.”

More telling, Alberta’s government has stated no single entity may own more than 15% of the licenses.

While I definitely am open to entrepreneurs making their fortunes on the open market, the truth is that economies thrive when there is competition. In my opinion, Alberta is doing the right thing by allowing the space for new and smaller businesses to thrive. Certainly, it is exciting to watch the process unfold. I’ll be curious to see who is around and why in five years from now.

Canada may still be on pace to legalize cannabis possession this July, but it looks like cannabis commerce will be delayed, so the licensing timeline quoted in the article may get pushed back as well. Stay ahead of the game and be as prepared as possible by attending the International Cannabis Business Conference in Vancouver, BC on June 24 & 25. Get your tickets now for Vancouver and Berlin, April, 11-13!

Featured photo credit: abdallahh/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed