Manitoba Government Opens Cannabis Market to More Retailers

Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free press. Staff at work at the Garden Variety cannabis dispensary on Ellice Avenue. April 11, 2019.

On May 22, 2020, the Manitoba Government announced that it is moving forward on its plan for an open and competitive cannabis retail market, allowing more retailers to apply for retail licences, beginning June 1, 2020.

The government hopes that this move will enable local entrepreneurs to create jobs and support Manitoba’s economy. This boost in the economy is needed now more than ever as the province works toward rebuilding Manitoba in the wake of COVID-19.

Beginning June 1, the province of Manitoba will open the cannabis retail application process to all prospective retailers. This includes the introduction of a new controlled-access licence for retailers. Manitoba will also continue to offer age-restricted licences for retailers wishing to open stand-alone stores. 

  • Age-Restricted Licence – reserved for a standalone location; no persons under the age of 19 may enter or view the interior of the store (i.e. brick and mortar)
  • Controlled-Access Licence (NEW) – reserved for a location within a core business; persons under the age of 19 may enter the core business (i.e. a store within a store –enclosed within an existing store, or convenience where the product is stored out of the view of customers)

Those who wish to operate a cannabis retail store in Manitoba will be required to successfully complete the required application process, enter into a Cannabis Store Retailer Agreement with Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries (MBLL), and be issued an applicable licence from the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority (LGCA) of Manitoba. Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries is the exclusive wholesaler of recreational cannabis in Manitoba and sells to authorized private Manitoba cannabis retailers. This means that retailers are only permitted to purchase cannabis inventory through MBLL.

Applications will be processed based on the following criteria:

  • One location, per application, per applicant processed at a time
  • Applicants applying for an Age-Restricted Licence are restricted to no more than 15% of the Manitoba Cannabis retail market share based on Age-Restricted Licensed Cannabis stores in Manitoba
  • Application forms must be completed in full
  • Applicants must demonstrate financial capacity to support opening inventory requirements
  • Applicants must identify the type of location they are applying for:
    Existing – secured and ready to renovate or in a ready state
    Identified – location identified but not yet secured (no lease/purchase in place)
    Searching – unidentified location
  • Applicants must have community/municipal/band council approval
  • New applicants to the market will be prioritized.

Applications will be reviewed for accuracy and completeness in the order that they are received. However, processing applications in the order that they are received does not guarantee that one applicant will have their application completed before another applicant.

Individual application processing times will vary depending on a variety of factors, including MBLL processing time/volume/resources, LGCA processing time/volume/resources, and the individual processing/response time of the applicant. Circumstances that may prolong an application timeline include but are not limited to the following:

  • Duration of security background check
  • Complexity of the corporate structure
  • Incomplete application submissions requiring additional and/or multiple discussions with the applicant
  • Applicant delays in responding to either MBLL or LGCA when requesting clarifications or further information
  • Applicant delays in providing MBLL with a signed Cannabis Store Retailer Agreement and supporting documents that form part of the Cannabis Store Retailer Agreement
  • Outstanding approvals of all required municipal permits and approvals
  • The location/site is not ready/does not meet initial or final LGCA inspection requirements

Currently, there are 30 stores with age-restricted licences in Manitoba. Retailers in this next phase will be limited to owning no more than 15 per cent of stand-alone stores in Manitoba. This will be expanded as more stores enter the market.

How we can help you

Cannabis License Experts is your solution to preparing, reviewing and submitting your cannabis retail licence application. We offer support from day one of starting your cannabis business, including strategic planning, floor plan preparation, site audits, SOPs and more.


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