Cannabis can be sold recreationally under the new Act and Regulations, but licenses are handled at the provincial level, and each province and territory has unique laws in place for recreational use.
We’ll outline the current legal requirements for local licenses below. As these regulations are new and developing, they are still subject to change. Please reach out to us to learn more about these requirements.
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Cannabis License Experts
As mentioned above, recreational cannabis retail regulations will ultimately be determined by Canada’s provinces and territories, as they are responsible for enacting restrictions regarding the sale, distribution, and use of cannabis. Therefore, licensing requirements will differ depending on where you live. The plans for each principality vary in scope.
The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) is responsible for regulating private retail sales of recreational cannabis, including retail applications and the distribution of cannabis. The AGLC also operates Alberta’s only legal recreational online cannabis store. As part of the application process, each applicant will undergo an extensive background check and will need to disclose detailed personal and financial information. Details about the company, site, personnel, and physical security will also be required from the applicant. Additional information on application requirements can be found here. As a result of national cannabis supply shortage, the AGLC has made the decision to temporarily suspend accepting applications and issuing any additional cannabis retail licenses until further notice. On January 25, the AGLC announced that 10 additional stores will open after seeing a modest improvement in supply since legalization, however it is not enough to open up the application process again. This will bring the total number of cannabis retail locations in Alberta to 75.
In British Columbia, the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) is responsible for the licensing of private non-medical cannabis retail stores. In addition to privately run cannabis stores, there will also be government-run retail operations including physical storefronts and an online store. The LCRB is currently accepting applications for a retail store license via their cannabis licensing application portal. An applicant for a retail store license or group of related persons must not hold more than eight retail store licenses.
The province has also proposed three other unique licenses:
Additional information regarding application requirements and license types can be found here.
Like Alberta, Manitoba has adapted an all-private retail model with regulation through the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority (LGCA) and wholesale distribution through Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation (MLLC). There are 5 licensed non-medical cannabis retailers in Manitoba (Delta 9 Cannabis Store, Tweed, Meta Cannabis Supply Co., Tokyo Smoke and Garden Variety) with various locations around the province. Additional opportunities to participate in the industry will present themselves once the non-medical cannabis market takes hold, expands, and matures. Future activity also depends on regulations the Federal government makes under The Cannabis Act. Therefore, no specific timeline is in place and opportunities could emerge quickly. Future expansion could include edible products and specialty stores. Additional information on Manitoba’s cannabis retail framework can be found here.
Also adopting a private retail model, Saskatchewan has already filled the 51 available spots for recreational cannabis stores after a lengthy application and lottery process. The government will consider whether to make additional opportunities available approximately 18 months after legalization, and all retail licenses will be issued by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA). The SLGA is currently only accepting applications for wholesale cannabis permits for licensed producers. More information can be found on the SLGA’s website.
Newfoundland & Labrador
In Newfoundland & Labrador, the sale of cannabis is being conducted through private retailers licensed by the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC). The NLC controls the possession, sale and delivery of cannabis, and sets prices for cannabis products. In addition, the NLC has established a secure online location for the purchase of cannabis products. 25 cannabis retail locations are currently open for business however the NLC will continue to monitor the retail environment during the initial stages of legalization. If more retail opportunities are warranted, the NLC will be sure to advise the general public with opportunities posted to their website.
Retail operations in New Brunswick are run entirely by the government, with Cannabis NB (a subsidiary of the New Brunswick Liquor Corporation) being the only legal retailer. There are currently 20 Cannabis NB stores open across the province as well as an online Cannabis NB store. More information about cannabis in New Brunswick can be found here.
All recreational cannabis stores will be government run, with the Société Québécoise du Cannabis (SQDC) acting as the province’s sole distributor. The SQDC is permitted to purchase cannabis from producers authorized under the Cannabis Act, operate retail locations, and sell cannabis online. 12 cannabis retail stores are currently open in Québec, however there are plans for additional outlets to be operational once there is adequate supply from federal producers.
The Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC) has the exclusive right to sell cannabis in Ontario to private retailers and online. While the OCRC will be responsible for providing cannabis, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) will be the regulator for privately-run cannabis stores. The AGCO has announced that Ontario will take a phased approach to private retail licensing as a result of severe cannabis supply shortages. A lottery program determined the first 25 applicants eligible to apply for a retail operator license and retail store authorization with the goal of having 25 cannabis retail stores open and ready for business on April 1, 2019. Ontario municipalities were given a one-time option to opt-out of having cannabis retail stores in their communities, with the results posted to the AGCO’s website.
All distribution and sales of recreational cannabis will be run by the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) and sold in existing NSLC liquor stores. Currently, recreational cannabis is sold in 12 stores that are in population hubs in the province and online. Consumers who wish to purchase cannabis online, must first visit a physical NSLC store and provide valid identification confirming they are 19 years of age to receive an online access code. More information on cannabis is Nova Scotia can be found here.
Prince Edward Island
The Prince Edward Island Cannabis Management Corporation (which operates as PEI Cannabis) will oversee four government-run retail locations and an E-Commerce platform. The four retail locations were chosen based on population. The province will review sales in different areas of the province and plan for future expansion, if needed. Learn more about buying cannabis in PEI here.
The Yukon plans to open a mix of both private and government-run retail stores, with a temporary government store opening first and online sales handled by the government. The only legal online non-medical cannabis retailer that can deliver within Yukon will be the Yukon Liquor Corporation’s online store. The regulations and policies for private licenses are still being developed and we will release when complete. YLC expects to be ready to accept private retail applications in the Spring of 2019. More information on non-medical cannabis in the Yukon can be found here.
The Northwest Territories Liquor and Cannabis Commission (NTLCC) is responsible for the distribution and sale of cannabis in the NWT. Consumers can initially only buy legal cannabis products online from the NTLCC or from some NWT Liquor Stores. Retail stores may be able to open in the future. A NWT Retail Cannabis Framework information guide has been posted online to provide information on how to apply to become a cannabis retailer. More information on cannabis in the NWT can be found here.
The Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission (NULC) will sell cannabis remotely (online and by phone), in physical stores, and through an Agent. There will be no physical retail stores at first, however provincial regulations allow for private licencing. Currently, the NULC’s only approved agent is Canopy Growth Corporation (Tweed). Visit the NULC’s website for more details on cannabis and cannabis legalization.