The AGCO is Now Issuing 80 Cannabis Retail Store Authorizations Per Month


On December 8, 2020, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) announced it is now doubling the number of Retail Store Authorizations (RSA) issued per month. Through their continued work with the Government of Ontario, the AGCO has now committed to issuing 20 Retail Store Authorizations per week, which doubles the current monthly issuance from 40 to 80.

This pace of authorizations was previously doubled in September, when the AGCO moved from the issuing of 20 licenses per month to 40 licenses per month.

Furthermore, applicants currently waiting on a Retail Store Authorization from the AGCO will be contacted by AGCO Eligibility Officers over the next 2 weeks to advise of the new anticipated issuance date for store authorizations. This process will begin with those who have the most imminent RSA issuance date.

Below are a few other points of interest regarding Retail Store Authorizations that were shared by the AGCO:

  • To date, over 1300 Retail Store Authorization (RSA) applications have been received
  • The AGCO has been able to issue 305 RSAs, with 269 authorized cannabis retail stores currently open in the province
  • Over 1100 active RSA applications are still to be processed

Secure your Licences and Authorizations

To open and operate a cannabis retail store and sell recreational cannabis, there are two licences and an authorization that you are required to secure from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).

1. Retail Operator Licence

The first licence you need to apply for is the Retail Operator Licence (ROL). You can apply for this licence as an individual/sole proprietor, a partnership or a corporation. The ROL will confirm that you meet the eligibility criteria set out in the Cannabis Licence Act and its regulations. For more information on ROLs, click here. To submit an application for a Retail Operator Licence, you must make the non-refundable $6,000 Retail Operator Licence fee payment.

Part of the ROL process includes police and background checks which will be conducted on applicants, and persons interested in the applicant, as needed, to determine eligibility for the issuance of the licence. Once approved, you will receive a Retail Operator Licence, which will contain your licence number, expiry date and any conditions on the licence.

After your ROL application has been submitted (or the ROL has been granted), your proposed physical store(s) must qualify for a Retail Store Authorization (see below), which confirms the store meets the location, layout, security and other requirements set out in the regulations and standards.

2. Retail Store Authorization

The next step after submitting an ROL application is to apply for a Retail Store Authorization (RSA) for each retail location you intend to open. To apply for an RSA, you must either hold a valid ROL issued by the AGCO or have submitted an application for a ROL with the AGCO. Applications for both an RSA and ROL can be submitted at the same time, but the ROL will be issued before the RSA is granted.

To submit an application for a Retail Store Authorization, you must make the non-refundable $4,000 Retail Store Authorization fee payment.

To be eligible for a Retail Store Authorization, the following criteria should be met since there are some places where you cannot open a cannabis retail store:

  • Ensure you have applied for or hold a Retail Operator Licence
  • Ensure the proposed location for your retail store is less than 150 metres away from the property line of a school or private school.
  • Contact the municipality where the store will be located and confirm that the proposed retail store meets local municipal requirements for retail store siting
  • Review the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores to ensure you understand the requirements for your store
  • Ensure that the operating name of the proposed retail store complies with all applicable Federal/Provincial legislation related to advertising and promotion.

If you are a Licensed Producer, or one of its affiliates, you are eligible to apply for a single RSA. In this case, the proposed cannabis retail store must be located on or within the site set out in the federally issued production licence.

3. Cannabis Retail Manager Licence

Every cannabis retail store in Ontario must have at least 1 Licensed Retail Manager, who is responsible for performing tasks such as:

  • supervising, managing, or hiring employees of the store
  • managing the sale of cannabis
  • managing compliance issues relating to the sale of cannabis
  • buying cannabis for the store
  • entering into contracts for the store. 

The only exception to this requirement is if the Licensed Retail Operator is a sole proprietor or is in a partnership between two or more individuals, and will be both the Licensed Operator and performing the duties of the retail store manager for a particular store – in which case a Cannabis Retail Manager Licence is not required.

To submit an application for a Cannabis Retail Manager Licence, you must make the non-refundable fee payment of $750/licence.

Open for Business

After your cannabis retail store has secured all of the necessary licences and authorizations, and passed the necessary inspections, you’ll be ready for opening. Keep in mind, there are rules and regulations you must follow when operating your store. It’s important to be compliant from day one, to follow a smooth pathway through licensing and ensure your cannabis retail business is a success!

How we can help you

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, Natural Health Product, Food and Medical Device industries. 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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