How to start a cannabis consumption lounge in 2023

Cannabis Consumption Lounge in Canada

Cannabis Consumption Lounge in Canada


The legalization of cannabis in Canada has been a hot topic lately. With the new laws now in place, it’s easy to see why cannabis lounges are quickly becoming one of the hottest topics for entrepreneurs looking to make a name for themselves in the newly legal industry. But what exactly is a cannabis consumption lounge? How do you get one up and running? And is it even legal? We’re going to answer all those questions (and more) as we walk you through everything there is to know about opening your very own cannabis consumption lounge!

Why are cannabis consumption lounges allowed in Canada?

Cannabis lounges are safe and legal places for adults to consume cannabis. They can help reduce the stigma of cannabis use, as well as provide consumers with an opportunity to connect with others who are interested in cannabis. Now that cannabis is legal in Canada for recreational use, it’s important that we consider every aspect of how we implement the new changes to the laws – including how to regulate consumption lounge.  It’s important that we consider every aspect of how we implement our new laws — including how we regulate consumption lounges.

Who can open a cannabis consumption lounge?

Your cannabis consumption lounge must be kept private.  The consumption lounge can’t be open to the public, and it must NOT have a membership fee.  You must also be a non-profit. The consumption lounge can’t make money off cannabis or any other product sold in the lounge, so there should be no entrance fees or sales made at the facility. This is because making money would be considered a “sale of cannabis” and this activity requires its own license.

If you wish to sell cannabis, you will need to obtain a provincial license as well as a municipal license if applicable; otherwise, you’ll need a business license from both your province and city (if applicable).

What are the steps to get a cannabis consumption lounge up and running?

  • First, you must find a location. You will want to look for a place that is easily accessible by public transit and has adequate parking. The area should be clean, well-lit, and safe for your participants. It should also be close enough (but not too close) to other cannabis retailers in the area so as not to compete with them or risk losing customers from their businesses.
  • Second, apply for a research license from Health Canada’s Controlled Substances and Cannabis Branch. This application includes information regarding your business plan, your research location, and protocol and how you plan on keeping it up-to-date with regulations as they change over time. It can take anywhere between a few weeks to a year before this license is approved depending on how extensive your research plan is and how long it takes Health Canada’s Controlled Substances and Cannabis Branch team to review everything in detail, so make sure you start planning early!

How to apply for a research license to open a cannabis consumption lounge:

You will need to provide the following documents to Health Canada to apply for your research license:

  • A research protocol outlining your plans for research and the consumption lounge (including how participants will be selected, the quantities and types of cannabis that will be consumed, how participants will get home safely, etc.)
  • Information on the Responsible Person in Charge
  • Details on how your proposed research site will be physically secured
  • How you will maintain records that are required by the Cannabis Regulations

How long does it take to get a cannabis consumption lounge license?

Health Canada commits to a non-binding 42 business-day service standard for single project applications and up to 180 business days for multiple project or institution-wide applications.

Why is research important before starting a cannabis consumption lounge?

A cannabis consumption lounge is a place where you can consume cannabis in a social setting. They’ve been in existence for many years now and are especially popular in Canada, where they’re legal. The rules of opening one vary, but the general requirements are that you need to be an adult Canadian citizen, have no criminal record, and pass all application requirement checks.  Once you’ve done your research and jumped through all these hoops (which can take several weeks), you’ll be able to open your own cannabis consumption lounge!

How can our Cannabis License Experts help?

In short, opening a cannabis consumption lounge is a big undertaking. If you’re considering starting one yourself, keep these tips in mind: do your research, make sure you have the right paperwork and licenses before you start one (or hire someone who does), and don’t rush into things.

Cannabis License Experts offers support from day one of starting your cannabis business, including strategic planning, floor plan preparation, site audits, SOPs, and more! Our team is equipped with professionals who have extensive experience in the Cannabis, Pharmaceutical, Cannabis Food, and Psychedelics segments.

We leverage years of cannabis quality assurance, operational and cultivation knowledge with real-life hands-on experience. Our team has the experience of submitting over 125 cannabis license applications under ACMPR and the Cannabis Act with no refusals to date! This speaks to our team’s dedication and due diligence to help our clients succeed. Through trust, transparency, and respect, our team will work with you to achieve your goals of getting your cannabis business licensed and legalized.

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