Choosing a Ontario Cannabis Retail Store Location

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Are you thinking of opening a cannabis retail store in Ontario, but you are not sure where you should start? Here are some of the main considerations that you should keep in mind while selecting the location of your cannabis retail store.

Familiarize Yourself with Relevant Legislation Around Cannabis Retail

To operate a successful cannabis retail business, you must be knowledgeable on the relevant provincial and municipal legislation around cannabis retail. By familiarizing yourself with the applicable legislation, you will gain an understanding of activities that are permitted and those that are not, as well as any responsibilities you hold as a license holder.

It is also important for you to gain an understanding of how the entire process from planning your business to store opening will go. Success will come from knowledge and compliance, so this is a great place to get things started. Look to the following resources as a great place to start furthering your Cannabis Retail knowledge.

  • The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) offers an excellent resource online, called the Cannabis Retail Regulation Guide. This guide offers key information and tips that will help to prepare you for operating within the Cannabis Retail industry.
  • Furthermore, the full text of the Ontario Regulation 468/18 made under the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 can be viewed on the Ontario government website.

Retail Store Location

Location, location, location! The location that you choose for your retail store will ultimately have a major effect on the success of your business. The regulations that apply to retail cannabis stores in Ontario as well as what is best for your business plan are both key factors to consider when selecting the location for your retail cannabis store.

When it comes to choosing the right location for your retail cannabis store, it is of utmost importance to practice due diligence and do your research first! In Ontario, there are certain restrictions on where retail cannabis stores can be located, and not all municipalities even allow private stores to set up shop. You can use the following link to check which municipalities have opted in/out to having private cannabis retail stores.

Once you have identified a municipality that you would like to work within, you will need to find the specific retail space where your business will be set up. The location that you choose should ideally be positioned away from direct competitors. If you do wish to view the status of current cannabis retail applications, you can do so here. This method will provide you with key insights regarding new potential stores in the area so that you can select a store location away from such potential competition.

Additionally, you will need to ensure that the cannabis retail store location that you are proposing is NOT located within 150 meters of the property line of a school or a private school as defined by the Education Act. If you are not sure about a particular store location and determining its proximity to a school, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), along with the experts here at Cannabis License Experts can provide you with the necessary assistance.

The AGCO has created an exclusion map using third-party school location data provided by the Ministry of Education, which might prevent submission of applications through iAGCO for locations that fall within 150 meters of a school. Keep in mind that online submissions of the application are in no way a guarantee or confirmation that the proposed location is compliant with the school proximity restriction. The proposed retail location must continue to comply with the school proximity requirement at the time that the Retail Store Authorization (RSA) is issued as well.

Finally, it is important to choose a retail store location that is located within a supportive community. Selecting a retail space in an area that is surrounded by residential communities, or close to schools, parks, playgrounds, and frequented by youth will likely lead to objections during the Public Notice stage of your Retail Store Authorization application – ultimately resulting in your application being rejected or refused. It is vitally important to reach out to the residents, city councilors, and other businesses in the community before signing a lease or sales agreement, this way you can be confident that you have chosen an acceptable store location.

Additional Considerations

The building should also provide the following functionalities or provide the means of installation for the following functionalities.

  • All points of access to the premises can be secured and protected against all unauthorized access
  • Cannabis and cannabis accessories must be hidden/not visible from the exterior of the premises
  • All cannabis must be able to be stored securely at all times and be only accessible by staff from receipt of the product to point of sale, destruction, or return
  • The following areas must be equipped with a secure, high-resolution surveillance system. This surveillance system must be functioning at all times
    • Entrances and exits, including wherever IDs are checked
    • Pick up area(s) for cannabis purchased online or by telephone
    • Point of sale area(s)
    • Receiving area(s)
    • Salesfloor area(s)
    • Cannabis storage area(s)

There you have it! Everything that you will need to know about choosing a Retail Store location in Ontario. We hope the information above gives you a solid understanding of all the steps involved in selecting an appropriate site location, as well as the requirements that must be met once you are up and running.

How we can help you

Cannabis License Experts is your one-stop solution to preparing, reviewing, and submitting your cannabis retail license application. We offer valuable support from day one of starting your cannabis business, including strategic planning, floor plan preparation, the performance of site audits, preparation of standard operating procedures, and much more.


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