Cannabis Retail License

cannabis canada

Provincial Guidelines For Retail Cannabis

As mentioned above, each province and territory has established its own unique regulatory framework to manage the distribution and sale of non-medical cannabis within their jurisdiction. Therefore, licensing requirements will differ depending on where you want to sell recreational cannabis.

Frequently Asked Questions

To become a licensed cannabis retailer in Ontario, there are a few licences and authorizations your business will need to secure first from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).


The first licence you need to apply for is the Retail Operator Licence (ROL). This is the licence that is based around your corporate structure and individuals involved in your business. The AGCO’s fee for an ROL application is $6000.


Next comes the Retail Store Authorization (RSA) application. This authorization is store specific and will involve submitting details to the AGCO regarding your store location, store name and physical security measures. The AGCO’s fee for an RSA application is $4000.


Finally, every cannabis retail store in Ontario must have at least one Licensed Retail Manager, who is responsible for performing managerial duties such as hiring employees, managing sales and maintaining inventory. The individual who will act as the Retail Store Manager must submit an application for a Cannabis Retail Manager Licence. The fee for this one is $750.


Once these licences and authorizations are obtained, your store can get up and running and you will officially be a licensed cannabis retailer in Ontario!

Cannabis retail in British Columbia is regulated by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB). To become a licensed cannabis retailer in British Columbia, businesses can apply for one of the following non-medical cannabis licences that are offered in the province:

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

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

  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

To become a licensed cannabis retailer in Alberta, the proper licensing must be secured from The Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC) which is responsible for private cannabis retail licensing in the province.

In Alberta, a private cannabis retail store must operate as its own separate business and cannot sell alcohol, tobacco or pharmaceuticals. 

There are 6 steps involved in the licensing process for a Retail Cannabis Store Licence in Alberta:

  1. Municipal Assessment – ensuring the municipality does not have bylaws or zoning restrictions relating to retail cannabis stores that impact your eligibility for a licence.
  2. Preliminary Assessment – submitting fee payment and application documents for review by the AGLC (e.g. floor plan, application forms, personal and financial documents).
  3. Personal and Financial Due Diligence Assessment – due diligence background investigation by the AGLC, including interviews of key persons.
  4. Premises Assessment – site visit by an AGLC Inspector to ensure the location and physical premises meets all AGLC requirements.
  5. Issuance of Licence – approved applications will be issued a Cannabis Retail Store licence. 
  6. Post-Licence Onboarding – licensees will be contacted by an Account Management Coordinator to begin the set‐up process for ordering and reporting purposes (e.g. banking information, photos of premise shipping/receiving area).

There are a few challenges when it comes to opening a provincial cannabis retail store, but with the right team (including your regulatory consultant!) it’s nothing you can’t overcome.

Some of the challenges applicants face include:

  • Finding an appropriate store location – Cannabis retail stores need to comply with provincial and municipal zoning by-laws. There are often other requirements for store location as well. For example, in Ontario, a cannabis retail store cannot be located within 150 m of a school or private school.
  • Increasing number of competitors – With cannabis being legal in Canada for a few years now, the growing number of stores is presenting a challenge for new businesses trying to get in on the action. 
  • Navigating the licensing process – The licensing process, no matter which province/territory, generally involves a few steps and requires the submission of several different types of documentation. A “messy” application that is missing key information can slow down the review and approval process.

Cannabis License Experts can help you work your way through all of the challenges above to get your cannabis retail business licensed, legalized and up and running!

Generally, you can apply for a cannabis retail licence as an individual/sole proprietor, a partnership or a corporation. When it comes to the nitty gritty details, each province and territory has their own specific set of rules around who is eligible for a cannabis retail licence and what specific criteria they are looking for. For example, in Ontario, you would NOT be eligible for a Retail Operator Licence (ROL) if you are in default of filing a tax return under a tax statute administered and enforced by the government of Ontario, or have any outstanding amounts owing and past due of tax, penalty or interest under those laws and have not made payment arrangements. Therefore, it’s important to work with an expert to determine if you and your business are eligible to apply!

In Ontario, Cannabis Retail Store Managers must be licensed and hold a Cannabis Retail Manager Licence issued by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). In addition to this requirement, ALL cannabis retail employees, managers and store authorization holders are required to successfully complete an AGCO Board approved cannabis retail employee training program prior to their first day of work in the store.

CannSell is the required training for all Ontario cannabis retail employees. The CannSell training program takes approximately 5 hours to complete and is delivered as an online program in both English and French at a cost of $65. Individuals must score at least 80% on the final exam in order to successfully complete the program and receive their CannSell certification. It is the responsibility of the holder of a Retail Store Authorization to ensure that all employees have met this educational requirement.

You bet! Cannabis License Experts is a one-stop shop for all of your cannabis licensing needs. We can review your cannabis retail License application before you send it in to ensure that all of the necessary components are accounted for and present in the application package. Having a second set of eyes can help check for any errors or missed information. This will ultimately result in a faster and smoother application process!

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