Provinicial Cannabis Laws In Canada

British Columbia Cannabis Retail License

Cannabis retail in British Columbia is regulated by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB). The LCRB licenses and monitors private non-medical cannabis retail stores. The BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) is the sole wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis in British Columbia. 

The LDB is the government retailer of recreational cannabis in the province as well. The LDB operates public cannabis stores and the sole online e-commerce in the province through the brand, BC Cannabis Stores.

Retailers in the province are not permitted to purchase any cannabis products directly from licensed producers or any other source other than the LDB.

Those interested in operating a private cannabis retail store in British Columbia must obtain a licence to do so. There are 2 non-medical cannabis licences offered in British Columbia:

  • Cannabis Retail Store License – A non-medical cannabis retail store license allows licensees to sell non-medical cannabis and cannabis accessories in B.C. Licensees can only sell federally approved cannabis products.
  • Cannabis Marketing License – A marketing license allows marketers to promote the products of licensed federal cannabis producers to licensed cannabis retail stores and people over 19-years-old.

Private cannabis retailers may only hold eight (8) total retail store licenses

There are 8 general steps to follow when applying for a Cannabis Retail Store Licence in BC:

  1. Check your local government or Indigenous Nation’s requirements (development permits, zoning, etc.)
  2. Review the location requirements to ensure your store meets the necessary standards
  3. Complete the Business Financial Integrity form
  4. Gather physical store details (e.g. floor plan, site plan, photos of the store exterior, signage, storage areas)
  5. Gather required documents and business information (e.g. corporate documentation, tax documents, etc.)
  6. Review and prepare required documents for associates
  7. Upload documents online (applications are submitted through the Liquor and Cannabis Licensing Portal with your BCeID) and pay fees (application fee of $7500 includes security screening and financial integrity checks + first-year licensing fee of $1,500)
  8. Wait for approval in principle, if granted

There are 8 general steps to follow when applying for a Cannabis Retail Store Licence in BC:

  1. Check your local government or Indigenous Nation’s requirements (development permits, zoning, etc.)
  2. Review the location requirements to ensure your store meets the necessary standards
  3. Complete the Business Financial Integrity form
  4. Gather physical store details (e.g. floor plan, site plan, photos of the store exterior, signage, storage areas)
  5. Gather required documents and business information (e.g. corporate documentation, tax documents, etc.)
  6. Review and prepare required documents for associates
  7. Upload documents online (applications are submitted through the Liquor and Cannabis Licensing Portal with your BCeID) and pay fees (application fee of $7500 includes security screening and financial integrity checks + first-year licensing fee of $1,500)
  8. Wait for approval in principle, if granted

British Columbia’s Farm-Gate Program

  • LCRB will be licensing Farm-Gate Cannabis Sales starting in 2022, likely through a new licence class (e.g. Producer Retail Store Licence) however the government is still in the process of finalizing details.
  • Farm-Gate stores will likely retain many features of the current federal and provincial legal framework for cannabis retail sales (e.g. indigenous/local government comments, secure storage, selling/promoting cannabis)
  • The Farm-Gate program will be eligible for standard cultivators, micro-cultivators and nursery licence holders. Licensees who hold a processing licence in combination with a cultivation licence will still be eligible, however stand-alone processors (with no cultivation licence) will NOT be eligible.

LDB’s Direct Delivery Program (DDP)

  • LCRB will be licensing Farm-Gate Cannabis Sales starting in 2022, likely through a new licence class (e.g. Producer Retail Store Licence) however the government is still in the process of finalizing details.
  • Farm-Gate stores will likely retain many features of the current federal and provincial legal framework for cannabis retail sales (e.g. indigenous/local government comments, secure storage, selling/promoting cannabis)
  • The Farm-Gate program will be eligible for standard cultivators, micro-cultivators and nursery licence holders. Licensees who hold a processing licence in combination with a cultivation licence will still be eligible, however stand-alone processors (with no cultivation licence) will NOT be eligible.

Other Upcoming Projects

BC Cannabis Secretariat is seeking feedback on “Non-Medical Cannabis Consumption Space” which would be considered a business/special event at which patrons would be permitted to purchase and consume non-medical cannabis. BC has not decided whether it will pursue this, but a preliminary engagement session is to be held with key stakeholder groups and the public.
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