The legalization of adult-use cannabis and subsequent private cannabis retailer framework has opened a world of opportunity for businesses of all sizes. All owners and operators of cannabis retail stores are subject to the provincial Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and its regulations, and the AGCO’s Registrar Standards.
These laws are intended to ensure that only responsible and lawful businesses and people receive licenses to own and operate cannabis stores. They aim to minimize the public risk of cannabis store operations and allow for ongoing monitoring of the operation of these businesses.
Engaging a law firm to properly license your business is strongly recommended, and business owners should also educate themselves regarding the applicable laws and regulations. We’ve put together the following Cannabis FAQ to address some of the most popular questions regarding cannabis retail licensing.
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The Ontario Cannabis Store is a Crown agency of the Government of Ontario and is the only legal supplier (wholesaler) of cannabis for private retail stores in Ontario. The OCS operates the only legal online store for recreational cannabis sales in Ontario. The AGCO does not regulate the OCS.
No, section 20 of the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 states that “The holder of a retail store authorization shall ensure that all aspects of the sale of cannabis through the cannabis retail store, including ordering and payment, are conducted in person at the store.”
The holder of a retail store authorization must ensure that the amount of cannabis sold to an individual in the cannabis retail store in a single visit, whether in a single or multiple transactions, does not exceed 30 grams of dried cannabis.
You must be at least 19 years old to work in a cannabis retail store.
1) RETAIL OPERATOR LICENCE To be able to legally open a retail store to sell recreational cannabis, you must get a Retail Operator Licence. To get this licence, you must meet all of the eligibility criteria set out in the Cannabis Licence Act and its regulations. A Retail Operator Licence allows you to operate one or more retail stores in Ontario. However, you must have a separate Retail Store Authorization for every store you wish to operate.
2) RETAIL STORE AUTHORIZATION You must have a Retail Store Authorization for each one of your stores because the Cannabis Licence Act and its regulations require that each store meet certain requirements. Requirements relate to such matters as the store layout and location. The regulations also give residents of the municipality in which the proposed store would be located the opportunity to provide their input.
3) CANNABIS RETAIL MANAGER LICENCE In order to ensure the responsible sale of cannabis, there must be at least one licensed manager for each authorized store location. The Cannabis Licence Act and its regulations set out eligibility criteria for the person who will have management responsibilities in authorized stores. This includes having responsibility for the cannabis inventory, for hiring and managing employees, and for ensuring the store operates with honesty and integrity at all times. If you are a sole proprietor, and will be both the licensed operator and performing the duties of the retail store manager for a particular store, you do not need to get a Cannabis Retail Manager Licence for your store.
A person who has been refused a retail operator licence or the renewal of a retail operator licence, or who was the holder of a retail operator licence that was revoked, may not apply for a retail operator licence until after the second anniversary of the refusal or revocation, unless the Registrar is satisfied that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the refusal or revocation.
There are many reasons why an applicant may not be eligible for a Retail Operator License. The AGCO will review your eligibility, and they will also review persons “interested” in you.
Persons “interested” in you means any other persons who have a beneficial interest of any kind in your business, or may exercise direct or indirect control over your business, or has provided, or may have provided financing to your business.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of reasons for which you may be denied a license.
You are under 19.
There are reasonable grounds to believe that you will not be financially responsible in the conduct of your cannabis retail business, having regard to your financial history, or the financial history of a person interested in you.
There are reasonable grounds to believe that you will not carry on business in accordance with the law, or with integrity, honesty or in the public interest, having regard to your past or present conduct, or past or present conduct of persons interested in you.
You or a person interested in you has been convicted of or charged with an offence under federal or provincial cannabis laws.
There are reasonable grounds to believe that you are carrying on activities that are, or would be if you were the holder of a retail operator licence, in contravention of or not in compliance with cannabis license laws.
The Registrar is not satisfied that you will exercise sufficient control, either directly or indirectly, over your cannabis retail business.
You or an employee or agent of you makes a false statement or provides false information in the application.