The AGCO is responsible for regulating Ontario’s privately run cannabis retail stores under the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and Regulation 468/18.
Under Ontario’s regulatory model, the AGCO:
- licenses eligible retail store operators and managers
- authorizes cannabis retail stores
- regulates and enforces the appropriate sale of recreational cannabis in privately run stores in Ontario.
In 2020–2021, the AGCO continued its work to support the Government of Ontario in the regulation of legal, recreational cannabis.
In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the government declared a state of emergency in April 2020. The AGCO responded in turn by updating its Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores to enable delivery and curbside pickup, announcing various burden-reduction measures as well as pivoting to a remote compliance approach wherever possible.
While the government’s emergency orders expired in July 2020, it subsequently announced a lockdown in November 2020, followed by stay-at-home orders in January 2021. The AGCO amended its Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores accordingly to permit delivery and curbside pickup in applicable regions and will continue to be responsive to licensees and other stakeholders throughout the duration of the pandemic and beyond.
In 2020–2021, the AGCO, in partnership with the Ontario Cannabis Store, significantly increased the rate at which it issued Retail Store Authorizations (RSAs). As of February 2021, the AGCO began issuing 30 RSAs per week.
To help both new and current applicants better understand the RSA application process, the AGCO also developed and published new resources, including:
- A Cannabis Retailer Licensing Journey Map that outlines the step-by-step process of opening a cannabis retail store.
- An enhanced map of cannabis stores in Ontario, offering updated and detailed information on proposed and authorized cannabis retail store locations across the province.