The Calgary Herald reports on a story that sounds like it is going to run and run – what’s been going on at the AGLC?
A second leadership departure in four months at the AGLC and its decision on industry promotional freedom has alarmed players in the province’s licensed cannabis and alcohol sector.
Earlier this week, Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis chief operating officer Niaz Nejad announced she was leaving after 10 years with the provincial regulator.
In November, the AGLC’s CEO Alain Maisonneuve was removed from his position following 33 years with the organization with no reason given, though the move was recommended by Finance Minister Travis Toews.
Those moves lend uncertainty to an organization that funnelled more than $2.2 billion into Alberta government coffers and charities in 2018-19, one of the largest contributors to the province’s bottom line, say some in the industries it regulates.
“It’s definitely spoken about in the industry — there’s no real leadership,” said one representative of the province’s liquor industry, who didn’t want to give their name.
Niaz knew the industry … the AGLC board is not taking the time to understand what that business is.”
In a statement, AGLC acting president and CEO Kandice Machado said Nejad’s presence was vital in launching Alberta’s legalized cannabis retail industry in 2018.
“I will be working closely with Niaz in the next month to ensure a smooth transition,” said Machado.
“I am confident AGLC leadership team will continue to focus on supporting the growth of these industries.”
In an email to AGLC colleagues, Nejad said she was leaving for an executive position with gaming machine manufacturer Aristocrat.
In response to the recent AGLC departures, a leader in the province’s cannabis industry said he’d like to see constancy within the commission.
“The industry benefits from a stable and predictable regulator and we hope for stability at the AGLC,” said John Carle, executive director of the Alberta Cannabis Council.
But Carle said a more immediate concern is the AGLC’s decision to maintain the prohibition on inducements in the cannabis-liquor industry, which upholds a ban on producers purchasing favours from retailers.
That decision, also announced earlier this week, came as a surprise to both sectors and a major disappointment to those in the cannabis industry, who say it would have put them on a more level playing field with their alcohol counterparts.
“We believe the AGLC intended to move forward to removing that (prohibition) … to completely renege is shocking and concerning,” said Carle.