Canada's Alberta sets out rules for recreational pot shops

(Reuters) - Alberta said on Friday recreational marijuana will be sold in licensed private retail stores to be overseen by a government regulator, as the energy-rich province unveiled its guidelines for pot just months before it is legalized in Canada.

Recreational marijuana will not be sold in the same stores as liquor or tobacco, and shops cannot be within 100 meters of schools or healthcare facilities. There will also be strict training requirements for shop workers.

“Our licensing process has been developed to keep cannabis out of the hands of children, and protect the health and safety of Albertans, while allowing for a robust, market-driven retail environment,” Dave Berry, vice president of Regulatory Services at the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC), told reporters.

Canadian provinces are putting in place rules as the use of recreational marijuana becomes legal later this year. Most have now released at least some details on their cannabis plans.

Even though the start date has been pushed back beyond July, Canada will be the first Group of Seven country to allow the drug nationwide and just the second in the world after Uruguay.

While the federal legislation proposed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government will regulate cannabis production, the details of who may buy and sell it have been largely left up to the country’s provinces.

In Alberta, licensing will be done through the AGLC, which will also distribute cannabis from licensed growers to retail outlets at a set wholesale price, and conduct all online sales. Shops will be able to set their own retail prices.

The provincial government said it expects to issue 250 licenses in the first year. Would-be retailers will need to pass criminal record checks, and individuals with links to organized crime or a history of drug trafficking will be excluded.

Marijuana cannot be consumed or openly displayed in retail stores, and the drug will not be available in loose form, the government said.

The drug cannot be sold to anyone under 18. Stores will be able to sell a maximum of 30 grams of pot per transaction, which will also be the personal possession limit in the province.

“The only product that will be sold is going to be in sealed containers, so it’s a little bit more like picking up a box of tea or a box of cigars,” said Kim Capstick, a director with the Alberta Cannabis Secretariat.

Reporting by Julie Gordon in Vancouver; Editing by Matthew Lewis