It might be a couple years before Alberta starts to see any economic benefit from the cannabis sector.
Marijuana was officially legalized on Wednesday, making it possible for Canadians to buy the recreational drug.
The number of sales is expected to be high, however, the province is expecting a net loss of $90 million over the first two years.
Minister of Finance Joe Ceci tells Mix News they just have too many costs associated with marijuana right now.
“We had to set up a system, we had to get an online purchasing portal up there, we had to hire staff, call centre staff so we don’t anticipate making money, but after that potentially.”
Some of the costs will be going towards helping municipalities. The provincial government announced on Monday they will be allocating $11.2 million over the next two years through their ‘Municipal Cannabis Transition Program.’
Communities who’ve put their own policies in, such as Wood Buffalo, will be eligible for grants to help cover costs for implementation and enforcement.
Ceci believes it’s also too early to predict what kind of money the sector can generate.
“I think we’re just hypothesizing or spitballing with going that far out and thinking how big this will be – it really will be something that comes and goes and is flexible.”
There’s currently no plan for what the potential profits would be used on.
Ceci says it will most likely continue to go towards local projects across Alberta.
“There’s a plan to make life more affordable for Albertans, to address their needs whether it’s education, healthcare, longterm care like what we’re doing in the Fort Mac area with Willow Square, those are things we typically invest in.”
Just A Few Stores Open
Only a few retail stores were open for the first day on Wednesday.
Across Alberta, there are 17 shops operating – none of which were in the RMWB.
Three stores are close to opening in Fort McMurray, while eight other applications are being processed by the municipality.
The province expects to see around 100 shops open their doors by the end of the year and another 150 by the end of 2019.
In the meantime, people can still buy legal marijuana online at albertacannabis.org.