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Provincial Cannabis Laws in canada

Ontario Cannabis Retail License

The Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC), operating as the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS), is the exclusive wholesaler of cannabis in Ontario to authorized private retail stores. This means that private retailers can only purchase cannabis products (e.g. dried flower, extracts, vapes, edibles, topicals, etc.) from the OCS.

While the OCS is responsible for providing cannabis products, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is the regulator for privately-run cannabis stores. Ontario currently has no cap on the number of cannabis retail stores and legislation has also been amended to facilitate the establishment of one retail store by licensed producers at their federally licensed production site.

To open a retail store and sell recreational cannabis, there are two licences and an authorization that are required from the AGCO. These are:

  1. Retail Operator Licence (ROL)
  2. Retail Store Authorization (RSA)
  3. Cannabis Retail Manager Licence (not required 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)

RETAIL OPERATOR LICENCE APPLICATION (ROL)

The first step to opening a cannabis retail store in Ontario is to apply for a Retail Operator Licence (ROL). The ROL application requires applicants to submit items such as constituting documents (certificate of incorporation, shareholder ledger, etc.), details on the sources of funding to be used for start-up/inventory costs, information to permit background checks (on applicants, and any affiliated or interested parties in the business, as needed), financial statements and tax documents, as well as a Tax Compliance Verification number (to ensure no delinquencies related to tax filings). 

RETAIL STORE AUTHORIZATION APPLICATION (RSA)

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. The RSA is a store specific application and covers areas such as store and site design (and applicable security provisions), proof of ownership/tenancy, municipality approval and distance from schools.

To apply for an RSA, you must either hold a valid ROL issued by the AGCO or have submitted an application for an 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. Applicants are permitted to apply for up to 75 RSAs per ROL.

After your ROL and RSA applications have been submitted, the next step is the public notice process and store inspections by the AGCO. The public notice process involves posting a placard at the location of the proposed retail store location for 15 calendar days to allow the general public to provide feedback and comments. Prior to a RSA being issued and your cannabis retail store opening for business, the store location will be inspected by an AGCO Compliance Official on two separate occasions to confirm that all eligibility and store-specific requirements are met.

Finally, in order to ensure the responsible sale of cannabis, there must be at least one licensed Cannabis Retail Manager for each authorized store location. A Cannabis Retail Manager licence is required by the manager of each retail store location and/or any individuals who wish to perform one or more of the following functions in a cannabis retail store:

  • Supervising or managing employees of a cannabis retail store;
  • Overseeing or coordinating the sale of cannabis;
  • Managing compliance issues in relation to the sale of cannabis;
  • Having signing authority to purchase cannabis, enter into contracts or make offers of employment.

Cannabis License Experts can prepare all of the necessary licences and authorization applications (ROL, RSA and Retail Manager Licences) that are required to open a retail store and sell recreational cannabis in Ontario.

ONTARIO GOVERNMENT APPLICATION FEES

The provincial application fees which are due upon submission of each of the licence/authorization applications will add up to approximately $10,000 and cover a 2-year term. The non-refundable provincial application fees are as follows:

Retail Operator Licence – $6,000

Retail Store Authorization – $4,000

Cannabis Retail Manager Licence – $750

Cannabis License Experts has extensive experience preparing and submitting Retail Operator Licence applications, Retail Store Authorizations as well as Cannabis Retail Manager Licence applications. Our company will provide support beyond licensing, including the preparation of Standard Operating Procedures, assisting in Requests for More Information (RMIs) and conducting routine site inspections to ensure that you are compliant with AGCO requirements. Our division CannaBrand Experts, can also provide assistance with how to display products in your store once you’re up and running!

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