Cannabis Licensing and Application Process

Cannabis Retail Licensing

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is responsible for administering the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 (CLA) that, together with the regulation made under the CLA , establish the licensing and regulatory regime for most aspects relating to the retail sale of recreational cannabis in Ontario. The following information is intended to assist you in applying for a Retail Operator Licence, a Retail Store Authorization and/or a Cannabis Retail Store Manager Licence.

Things to Know Before You Begin

Processing Times

  • The AGCO has a dedicated cannabis licensing team to work with Retail Operator Licence, Retail Store Authorization and Cannabis Retail Store Manager applicants.
  • Applications must be submitted online through the iAGCO portal and include all the required information.
  • Circumstances that will delay issuance of a Retail Operator Licence include:
    • Higher risk applicant eligibility factors requiring closer inspection (e.g. criminal, financial and other applicant/affiliate background considerations). For more information, please see the Cannabis Retail Licences and Authorization section of this guide
    • Complex corporate structure
    • Incomplete application submissions requiring multiple discussions with the applicant. For more information, please see the Application Process section of this guide
    • Applicant delays in responding to the AGCO when it requests clarifications or further information
    • Applicant delays in providing the AGCO with fully executed agreements with third parties and disclosure information on all parties with an interest in the business
  • Circumstances that will delay issuance of a Retail Store Authorization include:
    • Incomplete application submissions requiring multiple discussions with the applicant
    • Applicant delays in responding to the AGCO when it requests clarifications or further information
    • High volume of written submissions received through the public notice process
    • The store is not ready for pre-authorization inspection
    • The store does not meet pre-authorization inspection requirements.
  • Please note that the Retail Store Authorization application will not be approved if it is in a municipality that has opted out of having cannabis retail stores.

 

Licence Holder Responsibilities

For complete details about your legal responsibilities as a licence holder, refer to the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and its regulations which is available online or by contacting Publications Ontario at 416-326-5300 or toll-free at 1-800-668-9938.

 

Personal and Entity Disclosure Requirements

There are personal and entity disclosure requirements when applying for a Cannabis Retail Operator Licence, Retail Store Authorization and Retail Manager Licence. Entity/individual disclosure information must also be provided by applicant corporations and by all corporations directly or indirectly holding 10% or more of shares. For more information, see the Personal and Entity Disclosure Requirement Guide.

 

Municipal Requirements

Prior to applying for a Retail Store Authorization, please check with your local municipality to ensure that your premises meets municipal requirements for retail stores and that it is not a municipality that has opted out of cannabis retail sales.   

 

Public Notice

Once a complete Retail Store Authorization application is received by AGCO:

  1. The applicant will be notified, via iAGCO, that they have 24 hours to post a placard at the location of the proposed retail store location.  The placard must be posted for 15 calendar days and it will indicate that an application has been submitted for a cannabis retail store at that location.
  2. All cannabis Retail Store Authorization applications that are undergoing the public notice process will be searchable on the AGCO’s iAGCO portal.

After the Public Notice period has ended, the AGCO will provide the Applicant with copies of any written submissions received from local residents and from the municipality as a result of the Public Notice Process in response to the application. Authorization applicants will have five (5) calendar days to provide a written response to the Registrar related to any written submissions received from local residents and/or the municipality and the Registrar will consider the applicant’s response, if any.

  • Relevant submissions are limited to the following matters of public interest:
    • Protecting public health & safety
    • Protecting youth and restricting their access to cannabis
    • Preventing illicit activities in relation to cannabis.

For more information on the Public Notice process, please see the Public Notice for a Cannabis Retail Store Authorization section of this guide.

 

Application Process for Operating a Cannabis Retail Store on a First Nations Reserve

To operate a retail store and sell recreational cannabis in a store on a First Nations reserve, you must apply for a Retail Operator Licence and a Retail Store Authorization.

  • You may only apply for a cannabis Retail Operator Licence and a Retail Store Authorization if you submitted a complete Retail Store Authorization application online form through iAGCO and were one of the applications selected in the first come, first served process.

To be eligible to obtain a Retail Store Authorization, Applicants for a cannabis retail store to be located on a First Nations reserve must demonstrate that the Band Council has approved the location of the prospective cannabis retail store.

A Band Council Resolution must:

  • Be uploaded as a requirement to complete the Retail Store Authorization Intent to Apply
  • Approve the location of the store on the reserve

To receive a Retail Operator Licence or Retail Store Authorization for a cannabis retail store to be located on a First Nations reserve, a prospective operator must also meet all the requirements of the Cannabis Licence Act

For more information about the application process for operating a cannabis retail store on a First Nations reserve, please see the Application Process for a Cannabis Retail Store on a First Nations Reserve web page.

 

Fees and Payment

Licence and Authorization Fees

  1. Fee
    • You must pay the required fee when you first apply for a cannabis retail-related licence or authorization.
    • The fees for a Retail Operator Licence, for a Retail Store Authorization or for a Cannabis Retail Manager Licence are for a two-year period, after which time you will have to renew them. 
    • Fees paid are generally non-refundable, but the AGCO may consider refunds on a case-by-case basis Once an application is under review, the AGCO may in some cases charge additional investigation fees depending on the complexity of the background checks and investigations required.
  2. Renewal Fee
    • If you wish to continue operating your business or being employed as a retail manager, you will have to pay a renewal fee before your licence or authorization expires.
    • The renewal fee covers some of the ongoing costs of regulation, which includes activities such as inspection, and customer service support.
    • When you renew, you can select a two-year or four-year renewal term for any of the three licence or authorization types. There is no difference in the overall cost per year.
    • Fees paid are generally non-refundable, but the AGCO may consider refunds on a case-by-case basis.

Fee Payment

  • When using online services, all payments under $30,000 must be made by Visa, MasterCard, Interac Online, Visa Debit or MasterCard Debit.
  • Payments of $30,000 or more must be made by money wire transfer or electronic funds transfer. For more information, please contact AGCO Customer Service at 416-326-8700 or 1-800-522-2876.
  • Cheques and cash are not accepted as forms of payment when using iAGCO online services. Also, please note that the Bank of Montreal no longer offers Interac online payment service. For more information, please contact your BMO branch or the telephone number on the back of your card. For a list of participating financial Institutions, please visit Interac Online for Consumers).
  • All application fees must be received by the AGCO before an application will be processed.
  • Fees paid are generally non-refundable, but the AGCO may consider refunds on a case-by-case basis
  • Additional fees may be required for investigations.

For more information, visit the Fees and Payment section of this guide.

Important Notice

  • Each statement made in your application is subject to verification.
  • It is a serious matter to knowingly provide false information on the forms and on any attachments. The provision of false, incomplete, or misleading information or the omission of information on the forms or in the documents submitted with your application, or the failure to notify the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario of any material changes to this information which occur after this application is filed, may also result in the refusal, suspension or revocation of your licence.
  • If you require assistance with your application, please contact AGCO Customer Service at 416-326-8700 or 1-800-522-2876

The Ontario Cannabis Store

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. Private retailers can only purchase cannabis from the OCS.  Retail store operators will be required to enter into a wholesale supply agreement with the OCS in order to begin purchasing cannabis for resale in their authorized stores. 

Retail store operators should contact the OCS once they have been issued their Retail Operators Licence from the AGCO.  For more information, visit learn.ocswholesale.ca or call 1-877-627-1627.

Cannabis Retail Licences and Authorizations

The following licences/authorizations are required for the operation of a cannabis retail store(s) in Ontario:

Retail Operator Licence

To operate a retail store and sell recreational cannabis, you must apply for a Retail Operator Licence. To get this licence, you must meet all of the eligibility criteria set out in the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and its regulations.

Eligibility

For full details on the eligibility requirements for a Retail Operator Licence, please refer to the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, its regulations and the Registrar’s Standards.

Additionally, a person is not eligible for Retail Operator Licence:

  • If the AGCO is not satisfied that you will exercise sufficient control, either directly or indirectly, over the cannabis retail business
  • 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
  • If you have a business number with the Canada Revenue Agency and have not filed a tax return under certain Federal or provincial legislation
  • If the application will be made by a corporation and more than 25 percent of the corporation is owned or controlled, either directly or indirectly, by a licensed producer or their affiliate.   

All applicants and interested parties are subject to background checks as part of the eligibility review process.

For more information about Retail Operator Licence fees, see the Fees and Payment section of this guide.

Once approved, you will receive a Retail Operator Licence, which will contain your licence number, expiry date and any conditions on the licence.

Note:  The cannabis Retail Operator Licence is NOT a licence to produce cannabis.  For more information on becoming a licensed producer, please visit the website at Health Canada.

Retail Store Authorization

To operate a cannabis retail store, you must have a Retail Store Authorization.

The submission of a Retail Store Authorization (RSA) application does not guarantee its approval. The determination that an RSA application satisfies requirements is made based on all information available at the time of issuance of the RSA.

The Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and its regulations require that each store meet certain requirements. Requirements relate to such matters as the store layout and location.

The regulations also give residents of the municipality in which the proposed store would be located the opportunity to provide their input.

Before applying for a Retail Store Authorization, you must have submitted an application for a Retail Operator Licence or hold a Retail Operator Licence issued by the AGCO

A proposed Retail Store:

  • Must be located in a municipality that permits cannabis retail stores.

  • Cannot be located near a school or private school, as defined in the Education Act, if the proposed retail store is less than 150 metres away from the school. This will be determined as follows:
    • when the school or private school is the primary or only occupant of a building, 150 meters shall be measured from the property line of the property on which the school or private school is located. 
    • when the school or private school is not the primary or only occupant of a building, 150 metre shall be measured from the boundary of any space occupied by the school or private school within the building.

The distance between a proposed retail store and a school or private school is measured by a straight line from the closest point of the school property or boundary as described above to the closest point of the proposed retail store.

If either the store and/or the school is located on a floor other than the ground floor or main level in its respective building, the measure of the 150 metre distance may take into account the vertical distance in assessing compliance with this requirement.

The above rules do not apply if the private school is located on a reserve or if the private school only offers classes through the Internet.

All retail store locations will be required to undergo a 15-day public notice process. For more information, see the Public Notice for a Cannabis Retail Store Authorization section of this guide. The Public Notice process is not required for stores on First Nations reserves. The location of the store is approved by the Band Council.

For more information, see the Retail Store Location section of this guide.

Please refer to the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and its regulations for a list of full requirements.

Eligibility

For full details on the eligibility requirements for a Retail Store Authorization, please refer to the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, its regulations and the Registrar’s Standards.

Some of the requirements for an applicant to be eligible for a Retail Store Authorization include:

  • the applicant must not have made a false statement or provided false information in the application.

  • the premises, equipment and facilities of the proposed store are not in compliance with the Cannabis Licence Act 2018, its regulations and the Registrar’s Standards
  • the issuance of the authorization has been deemed to be in the public interest (i.e. protecting  public health and safety, protecting youth and restricting their access to cannabis, and preventing illicit activities in relation to cannabis).

A Licensed Producer and its affiliates are eligible to apply for a single RSA. The proposed cannabis retail store must be located on or within the site set out in the federally issued production licence.

For more information, see the Retail Store Authorization section of this guide.

For more information about Retail Store Authorization fees, see the Licence and Authorization Fees section of this guide.

Prior to starting a Retail Store Authorization application, we recommend that you:

  • Contact the municipality where the store will be located and confirm that the proposed retail store meets local municipal requirements for retail store siting
  • Ensure you have applied for or hold a Retail Operator Licence and have the application file number or licence number ready (both applications may be submitted at the same time)
  • Review the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores, the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and its regulations 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.
The Registrar’s decision to issue or not issue a Retail Store Authorization is final.

Cannabis Retail Manager Licence

A Cannabis Retail Manager licence is required by any individual of each retail store location and/or anyone 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.

For more information, visit the Cannabis Retail Manager Licence section of this guide.

For full details on the eligibility requirements for a Cannabis Retail Store Manager Licence, please refer to the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and its regulations.

Some of the eligibility requirements that an applicant must meet include:

  • Be at least 19 years of age
  • Conduct their business (or their duties as retail store manager) in accordance with the law, and with honesty, integrity and in the public interest
  • Have no convictions or charges under the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, or certain sections of the Cannabis Control Act, 2017 and the Cannabis Act (Canada)
  • Not have, or previously had, roles or connections with a criminal organization as defined in subsection 467.1(1) of the Criminal Code (Canada) (i.e. the applicant must not be, or have been, a member of the criminal organization; involved in the criminal organization; or contribute, or have contributed to, the activities of the organization)
  • Not have made a false statement or provided false information in your application.

All applicants are subject to background checks as part of the eligibility review process.

For more information about Cannabis Retail Manager licence fees, see the Fees and Payment section of this guide.

To submit your online application, the following information will be required:

  • Social Insurance Number
  • Personal History for all employment and/or unemployment (including education, parental leave, etc.).  You must use the form provided in the online application.

Cannabis Retail Operators must keep an up-to-date record of each location for which their RMLs are accountable. The record must be made readily available for review upon the request of AGCO Compliance Officials.

Educational Requirements

In addition to requiring that Store Managers are licensed, under Ontario law, 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.

This includes:

  • Holders of a Retail Store Authorization;
  • Holders of a Cannabis Retail Manager (Store Manager) licence;
  • Any other individuals who work in a cannabis retail 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 $64.99 + HST. Existing CannSell certificate holders can complete the standalone new content for $10.00 + HST. Individuals must score at least 80% on the final exam in order to successfully complete the program and receive their CannSell certification.

To take the CannSell training program, or for more information about the program, visit CannSell.ca

It is the responsibility of the holder of a Retail Store Authorization to ensure that all employees have met this educational requirement.

Application Process

How to Apply for a Cannabis-related Licence or Authorization

Cannabis-related applications will be accepted online only via iAGCO.

iAGCO is the AGCO’s online service delivery portal that offers its customers a convenient and digital way of doing business with the Commission. To access services from the iAGCO portal, you must first create an account and login. 

Once an account has been created and you are logged in, the portal can be used to apply for, and manage and view the status of your cannabis-related licences and authorizations, including applications, renewals and modifications.

For more information on iAGCO, please visit the iAGCO Information page.

 

Applying for a Retail Operator Licence (ROL)

In addition to submitting an online application via the iAGCO portal, you will need to provide supporting information/documentation.

If you are applying for a Retail Operator Licence, prior to the Licence being issued (i.e. your licence cannot be issued without the required documentation):

  1. Tax Compliance Verification (TCV) Confirmation Code
    Applicants must provide their Tax Compliance Verification (TCV) confirmation code.  For more information, please refer to the Tax Compliance Verification (TCV) Program.
  2. Constituting Document(s)
    One or more of the following documents must be uploaded:
    • Certificate or articles of incorporation
    • Charter/By-Laws
    • Partnership Agreement
    • Limited Partnership Agreement
    • Limited Partnership Declaration
    • Shareholder’s Agreement
    • Trust Agreement
    • Any other constituting documentation relevant to the entity
  3. Schematic Diagram
    If the corporate structure of the applicant has more than one level, a schematic diagram depicting the relationship among all parent, controlling, subsidiary, affiliated and commonly controlled companies is required.  In the case of a corporation, ownership identified must total 100%. 
  4. Details of Shares
    A document listing all classes and series of shares in the entity. For each class/series, include its name, number of authorized shares, number of issued shares, any rights, privileges, restrictions, conditions as well as name of each shareholder who meet percentage threshold requirements set out for cannabis applicants.
  5. Financial Statements
    Financial Statements (balance sheets, income statements, cash flow statements, etc.) for the last fiscal year. If available, please provide audited consolidated financial statements.
  6. Tax Return and Tax Assessment
    A completed tax return and tax assessment for the last fiscal year available.
  7. Personal History
    A Personal History (using the form provided on iAGCO) for all employment and/or unemployment (including education, parental leave, etc.) will be required from:
    • Applicants who are Sole Proprietors
    • Disclosed individuals.

    Please note, the Registrar will consider every application for a retail operator licence, and may;

    1. issue the retail operator licence, if the applicant has met the application requirements, is not ineligible and has paid the required fee
    2. issue the licence, with proposed conditions to be attached
    3. issue a proposal to refuse the application

If you receive a proposal to refuse your application, you may request a hearing/appeal before the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT). For more information on the LAT, please visit the LAT website.

Apply for an ROL 

 

Applying for a Retail Store Authorization (RSA)

To apply for a Retail Store Authorization (RSA), the applicant must either hold a valid Retail Operator Licence issued by the AGCO or have submitted an application for a Retail Operator Licence with the AGCO. Applications for both can be submitted at the same time.

A cannabis Retail Store must be the only business that operates out of the proposed location, and the business cannot also operate as a restaurant, coffee shop, pharmacy, convenience store, etc.  For more information, see Retail Store Requirements.

Licensed Producers

A Licensed Producer and its affiliates are eligible to apply for a single RSA. The proposed cannabis retail store must be located on or within the site set out in the federally issued production licence.

Business Requirements

For a Retail Store Authorization to be issued, certain business requirements must be in place prior to opening to ensure the store is ready to order, receive and appropriately secure cannabis products. For example, store operators are required to ensure:

  • Cannabis and accessories will not be visible from the exterior of the premises
  • A secure, high-resolution surveillance system will be in place at all times
  • Cannabis will be stored securely at all times and be accessible only by staff

For more information on the standards and requirements for a cannabis retail store, please refer to the Registrar’s Standards for the Cannabis Retail Stores, the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and its regulations.

Required Documents

The following documents must be submitted prior to a Retail Store Authorization being issued: 

  1. Business Name Registration 
    The business name under which you intend to operate may have to be registered under the Business Names Act. For information regarding business name registration please call toll free 1-800-361-3223 or visit Service Ontario
  2. Proof of Ownership / Tenancy  
    Proof of Ownership / Tenancy (lease agreement, property deed, rental agreement etc.). 
  3. Agreements not disclosed on the ROL application. See Supplementary Questionnaire for more information.

Additional information / documentation may be requested as required to determine eligibility for a Retail Store Authorization.

Pre-Authorization Inspection

Before a Retail Store Authorization can be issued, the store location will be inspected by an AGCO Compliance Official to confirm/verify that all eligibility and store-specific criteria are met. During the pre-authorization inspection, AGCO Compliance Official will provide you with information about your responsibilities under the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, its regulations and the Registrar’s Standards, and address any operational questions and/or concerns you may have related to the retail sale of cannabis.

For more information, see the Retail Store Pre-Authorization/Opening Inspection of this guide.

Conditions

Retail Store Authorizations may be subject to conditions specified by the Registrar pursuant to the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018.

Please note that the Registrar will consider each application for a retail store authorization, and may:

  1. issue the retail store authorization if the applicant has met the application requirements, is not ineligible and has paid the required fee
  2. refuse the application.

The Registrar’s decision to issue or not issue a Retail Store Authorization is final. Relief may be sought by way of an Application for Judicial Review to the Superior Court of Justice.

Apply for an RSA

 

Applying for a Cannabis retail store manager licence (RML)

The following document(s) will be required before a Retail Store Manager Licence can be issued:

  1. Personal History
    A Personal History (using the form provided on iAGCO) for all employment and/or unemployment (including education, parental leave, etc.) 
  2. Tax Return or Tax Assessment
    A completed tax return and tax assessment for the last fiscal year available. 

Please note that the Registrar will consider every application for a retail store manager, and may:

  1. issue the Retail Store Manager Licence, if the applicant has met the application requirements, is not ineligible and has paid the required fee or
  2. issue the licence, with proposed conditions to be attached
  3. issue a proposal to refuse the application

If you receive a proposal to refuse your application, you may request a hearing/appeal before the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT). For more information on the LAT, please visit the LAT website

Apply for an RML

Public Notice for a Cannabis Retail Store Authorization

A Cannabis Retail Store Authorization may be issued to an applicant unless the Registrar finds it is not in the public interest, as set out in the regulation made under the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018.

The infographic below shows the basic steps for the public notice process.

1 Applicant posts placard at the proposed store, 15-day public notice period  begins, Store location is searchable on iAGCO, 2 Resident/municipality has 15 calendar days to  make written submission(s) to the Registrar, 3 AGCO provides copies of written submission(s) received to applicant within the 15 calendar day requirement, 4 Applicant has 5 calendar days to respond from the time written submissions are sent to the applicant, 5 Registrar considers all available information in order to make an authorization decision, 6 Registrar considers written submission(s) received within the 15 calendar day requirement

Public Notice

After an application for a Cannabis Retail Store Authorization is submitted through iAGCO, the AGCO’s online portal, the AGCO will determine the dates of the posting period (15 calendar days) and will email the Public Notice placard (in PDF format) to the applicant who is responsible for posting the placard visibly on the proposed store front. 

Once received, an applicant must print and physically display the Public Notice at the proposed store. The Public Notice placard, an example of which is shown below, displays the following information:

  • Name and address of the proposed store;
  • File number of the application;
  • Deadline date for submissions;
  • Details on who can make a submission and how to make a submission.

Example of public notice placard

Public Notice posting requirements

Applicants are required to post the Public Notice according to the following requirements:

  • Print in colour on letter-sized (8½” x 11”) paper;
  • Post both English and French notices in a place where members of the public can easily read the contents without having to enter the proposed store;
  • Post for 15 calendar days (start and end dates will be provided to the applicant by the AGCO).

An AGCO Compliance Official may visit the proposed store to confirm the Public Notice is posted according to the requirements. Failure to post the Public Notice for the required period of time will result in a delay in the processing of the application and may result in reposting the Public Notice for a further 15 days.

All cannabis Retail Store Authorization applications that are undergoing the public notice process will be searchable on the AGCO’s website through the iAGCO portal

Subscribe to Applications Undergoing Public Notice

You can sign up to receive emails with updates of new applications undergoing public notice. You can choose the types of applications and specify the locations you would like to subscribe to.

Written submissions

Written submissions about an application can only be made to the Registrar by:

  • A resident of the municipality in which the proposed store is located;
  • The municipality representing the area in which the proposed store is located. If the municipality is a lower-tier municipality, then the upper-tier municipality of which it forms a part may also make a submission. 

Written submissions can be made online at iAGCO.

Submissions must be received by the AGCO on or before the deadline date set out in the Public Notice. The AGCO will provide copies of any submissions and accompanying documents to the applicant. Anonymous submissions will not be considered.

Written submissions and the public interest

The Registrar will consider written submissions as to why the proposed store is not in the public interest as set out in the regulation made under the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018. The following are matters of public interest that can be considered by the Registrar:

  1. Protecting public health and safety;
  2. Protecting youth and restricting their access to cannabis;
  3. Preventing illicit activities in relation to cannabis.

Copies to the applicant​

After the Public Notice period has ended, the AGCO will provide the applicant with copies of any submissions received within the required time period in response to the application for a Retail Store Authorization. Personal details of the submitter, such as name, phone number, email address and mailing address, may be provided to the applicant if included in the content of the submission and/or in accompanying documents. The AGCO aims to provide copies of the submissions to applicants within 10 business days after the submission deadline.

Applicants will have five days, from the time written submissions are sent to the Applicant, to provide written submissions to the Registrar in response to any submissions from local residents and from the municipality. The Registrar will consider the applicant’s response, if any.

Registrar’s decision

The Registrar’s decision to issue or to refuse a Cannabis Retail Store Authorization is final. Relief may be sought by way of an Application for Judicial Review to the Superior Court of Justice.

Note: The public notice process is not required for stores on First Nations reserves. The location of the store is approved by the Band Council.

Fees and Payment

Licence and Authorization Fees

There are fees required when you apply for your Retail Operator Licence, Retail Manager Licence, or Retail Store Authorization and fees when you renew these licences or authorization.

The fees are:

 

Fee

2-year term

Renewal Fee
2-year term
Renewal Fee
4-year term
Retail Operator Licence $6,000 $2,000 $4,000
Retail Store Authorization $4,000 $3,500 $7,000
Cannabis Retail Manager Licence* $750 $500 $1,000

*If you are a sole proprietor, you will not need to get a Cannabis Retail Manager Licence for that store.

Retail Store Pre-Authorization/Opening Inspection

Prior to a Retail Store Authorization being issued and a private 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. The first inspection is called a Retail Store Pre-Authorization Inspection, which is conducted prior to a Retail Store Authorization being issued, and the second inspection is a Pre-Store Opening Inspection, which will be done prior to the opening of the store. As part of both of these inspections, the Compliance Official will be contacting the Owner/Retail Cannabis Sales Manager to review, in advance, the requirements to ensure the location is ready for these activities. The following sections provide more information about the inspection process.

What is a Retail Store Pre-Authorization Inspection?

Before a Retail Store Authorization will be issued, the store location will be inspected by an AGCO Compliance Official to confirm that all eligibility and store-specific requirements are met. During the Pre-Authorization Inspection, AGCO Compliance Officials will provide you with information about your obligations and responsibilities under the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, its regulations and the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores and answer any operational questions and/or concerns you may have related to the retail sale of cannabis. Compliance Officials will be checking that the store is ready to order, receive and appropriately secure cannabis products as required by the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, its regulations and the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores.

Things to know before scheduling an inspection

  • Ensure that you have applied for or hold a Retail Operator Licence and have the application file number or licence number ready.
  • Ensure the complete application, including supporting documents for a Retail Store Authorization, is submitted.
  •  Confirm that all required fees have been paid. Please refer to the AGCO’s Application Fee Schedule for the applicable fee.
  • Review information about your obligations and responsibilities under the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores, as well as all applicable laws and regulations, including but not limited to,  the federal Cannabis Act and its regulations, the Cannabis Control Act, 2017 (CCA), the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 (CLA), and Ontario Regulation 468/18.
  • Pre-Authorization Inspection criteria, listed below, must be completed before an inspection can be scheduled.

Pre-Authorization Inspection Criteria

An AGCO Compliance Official will be visiting the retail store to confirm that store specific requirements are met. Store-specific requirements include:

  • Public Notice Process (CLA subsection 4 (7))
    You must post the placard that has been issued via iAGCO email under the public notice process for 15 calendar days. The placard period does not need to be completed before an inspection can be scheduled (i.e. an inspection can be scheduled as soon as the placard has been posted based your readiness for the store to be inspected).
  • Location (AGCO application requirement)  
    The address written on the Retail Store Authorization application must match the physical address of the store.
  • Product Visibility (AGCO Registrar Standard 2.5
    Once cannabis products and accessories are on site, they cannot be seen from the outside of the store (i.e. some retail store operators may choose to use tinted glass or frosted windows to ensure products and accessories are not visible from outside of the store). During the pre-authorization inspection, you will be required to demonstrate how you meet this requirement.
  • Video Surveillance System (AGCO Registrar Standard 2.1)
    A secure, high-resolution surveillance system must be in working order at all times. During the pre-authorization inspection, you will be required to demonstrate that you have a video surveillance system in place that includes the following minimum requirements:
    1. Cameras and lighting must be positioned to clearly capture 24-hour coverage of the interior of the premises and immediately outside the premises, including the:
      1. Entrances and exits, including where IDs are checked
      2. Pick up area(s) for cannabis purchased online or by telephone
      3. Point of sale area(s)
      4. Receiving area(s)
      5. Sales floor area(s)
      6. Cannabis storage area(s).
    2. Video recordings must be made and retained for a minimum of 30 days and be made available to the AGCO upon request;
    3. The Licensee must ensure that the surveillance system is functioning properly at all times.
  • Storage (AGCO Registrar Standard 2.2)
    Operators must be able to demonstrate and confirm that all cannabis products will be stored securely at all times and only be available to staff from the time the product arrives at the store to point of sale, destruction, or return to Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC) or Licensed Producer.
  • Other Businesses (Ontario Regulation 468/18, section 9)
    The store must be enclosed by walls and separated from any other commercial establishment or activity and from any outdoor area. The store cannot be entered from or passed through in order to access any other commercial establishment, other than a common area of an enclosed shopping mall.
  • Store Management (CLA 5(1), CLA 25 (1), AGCO Registrar Standard 1.2 and 1.3)
    The store must be managed by either a licensed Retail Operator or a licensed Retail Manager. Licensed Retail Operators or Retail Managers may be responsible for up to five (5) stores at a time. You may be asked to provide your Retail Operator or Retail Manager licence upon request.
  • Unauthorized Access (AGCO Registrar Standard 2.4)
    All entry points to the store, including doors and windows, must be secure and protected against unauthorized access.

How to schedule an Inspection

Once the complete Retail Store Authorization application has been submitted, notify the AGCO that the retail store has met all of the store specific requirements and is ready for an inspection. The AGCO Compliance Official will contact you to set up an appointment. As the applicant, you must be present at the retail store during the inspection.

Once all eligibility and store specific requirements are met, a Retail Store Authorization will be issued which may include certain terms and conditions, which the licensed Retail Operator must comply with before the store is open to the public.

Retail Store Pre-Opening Inspection

What is a Retail Pre-Opening Inspection?

Once a Retail Store Authorization has been issued, all retail stores will be inspected a second time to confirm that the store is ready for a licensed Retail Operator to open for business and sell cannabis products to the public in accordance with the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, its regulations and the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores. This includes meeting the Pre-opening requirements.

An AGCO Compliance Official will contact the licensed Retail Operator to schedule the Pre-opening Inspection. Pre-opening inspection requirements include:

  • Outdoor Store Signage (CA s. 18, AGCO Registrar Standard 6.1 and Standard 6.2)
    Signage must identify the business on the outside of the authorized store. Advertising may not:
    • appeal to or target persons under 19 years of age

    • promote cannabis or cannabis accessories in a way that is false, misleading, or deceptive

    • suggest or imply, directly, indirectly, or by use of endorsements of testimonials, that consumption of cannabis is associated with success, enjoyment of an activity, fulfillment of a goal, or the resolution of a problem

    • be associated with medicine, health, or pharmaceuticals

    • depict or suggest the illegal sale of cannabis

    • associate consumption of cannabis with driving a motorized vehicle, or with any activity that requires care and skill or has elements of danger

  • Provincial Seal of Authorization (Ontario Regulation 468/18, section 19)
    You must display the Provincial Seal of Authorization in a place that is visible from the exterior of the public entrance to the cannabis retail store. The retail seal must be least 17 centimetres in width at its widest point by 20 centimetres in length. Either the French version, the English version or both versions of the cannabis retail seal may be displayed. You will be provided access to download the seal once your RSA application is approved.
  • Interior Store Signage (CA s. 17)
    You may promote cannabis and cannabis accessories within the store only if:
    • The promotion is limited to factual information about:
      1. Cannabis or a cannabis accessory and its characteristics
      2. A service related to cannabis
      3. The availability or price of cannabis, cannabis accessories, or a service related to cannabis.
    • The promotion focuses on brand characteristics of cannabis or cannabis accessories
  • Storage (AGCO Registrar Standard 2.2)
    All products must be stored securely at all times and only be available to staff from the time the product arrives at the store to point of sale, destruction, or return to OCRC or Licensed Producer.
  • Authorized Products (CLA s. 18, Ontario Regulation 468/18 s. 18)
    You may only sell cannabis products purchased from the OCRC in the packaging which it was purchased from the OCRC. Cannabis accessories and shopping bags do not need to be purchased from the OCRC.
  • Staff (CLA s. 23, CLA s. 5(4), Ontario Regulation 468/18 s. 21)
    All staff employed to work before the cannabis retail store is open as well as after the store is open to the public, must be 19 years of age or older. Licensees must obtain criminal background checks from employees as part of the hiring process, as well as ensure that all employees:
    • act in accordance with the law and demonstrate honesty and integrity
    • have completed any required training, including AGCO Board-approved CannSell training, prior to their first scheduled shift.
  • Unauthorized Access (Ontario Regulation 468/18 s. 20)
    A description of the measures the licensed Retail Operator will undertake to ensure that patrons who look under 25 years of age are not permitted to enter the cannabis retail store unless they provide a valid piece of identification proving that they are at least 19 years of age.
  • Record Keeping Requirements (AGCO Registrar Standard 8.1)
    Licensees must ensure that the following records are maintained, retained a minimum of  three (3) years, or longer as may be required by other laws and regulations, and made available to the AGCO in accordance with the Notification Requirements or upon request:

     

    • employee records, including names, addresses, primary job responsibilities, shift schedules, training records, CPIC records check results, and dates of employment
    • records for all cannabis in the authorized store, including cannabis purchased directly from the OCRC and cannabis transferred from another authorized retail store operated by the Licensed Operator.  At a minimum, these records must contain information regarding:

      • the cannabis purchased and received by the Licensee for sale in the authorized store

      • any cannabis returned to the OCRC or Licensed Producers

      • each sale transaction at the authorized store, traceable to the employee level

      • any cannabis that has been destroyed.  Records of any cannabis destroyed must include, at a minimum:

        • the name and address of the authorized retail cannabis store

        • the time and date of the destruction

        • the name of the individual conducting the destruction, if being carried out by the licensee, or the company, if being contracted to a third party 

        • a certificate of destruction, if destruction is carried out by a third party

        • the product category and SKU

        • the amount of product

        • the reason for the destruction of the cannabis product

        • the method of destruction.

    • records required to enable the licensee to participate in any national cannabis tracking system established under section 81 of the federal Cannabis Act
    • records that may be required to support a cannabis product recall
    • records demonstrating that the Licensee is complying with sections 7 and 8 of the Cannabis Control Act, 2017, which prohibit sales to persons under 19 years of age and persons who are or appear to be intoxicated.
    • licensees must maintain records of the cannabis used for display purposes.  These records must account for the product after it is no longer on display.
    • Licensees must ensure that the Monthly Federal Report and Monthly Sales Report are complete and made available to the AGCO in accordance with the Notification Requirements. [Amended: May, 2019]
  • AGCO Authorization (Ontario Regulation 468/18, s. 13)
    You must display the AGCO Retail Store Authorization in a visible place to patrons in the retail store.
  • Sensory Display Containers (Standard 2.6)
    You may use sensory display containers to allow patrons to see and smell cannabis products. Display containers must be locked and tamper-proof to prevent patrons from touching the products, and must not be able to be removed from the premises.
    This requirement can be met during the pre-opening inspection or during the on-going inspection phase once you decide to use sensory display containers.

Retail Store Ongoing Inspection

AGCO Compliance Officials may visit the retail store location at any time to confirm compliance with the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and regulations and Registrar’s Standards. You must allow the inspection, and you must not interfere with the AGCO Compliance Official, refuse to answer questions related to the inspection, or provide false information. 

 When conducting an inspection, an AGCO Compliance Official may:

  • ask you for and look at records that are relevant to the inspection
  • take records away from the store to review, examine, test or copy. In this case, the Compliance Official will give you a receipt confirming which records have been taken
  • After the compliance official has taken the records, you can request that the records be made available to you
  • The records will be returned to you in a reasonable time, unless the records cannot be returned because of the testing done
  • take photographs or other recordings
  • ask about financial transactions, records or other matters relevant to the inspection.

If a Compliance Official asks you for a record, you must provide it. You must also must help the Compliance Official understand the record or provide it in a readable form.

AGCO Compliance Officials will also confirm the following:

  • Responsible Use (AGCO Registrar Standard 7.1)
    Information related to the responsible use of cannabis must be made available to patrons. At a minimum, you must make the Health Canada Consumer Information – Cannabis document available to patrons. 
  • Retail Store Staff Education (Ontario Regulation 468/18, s.21)
    Retail store staff including holders of Retail Store Authorizations, cannabis retail manager licensees and staff employed at the retail store must complete the required AGCO Board approved CannSell training prior to their first day of work to support the safe sale, and consumption of cannabis. The online CanSell training program, available in English and French, educates cannabis retail employees on the responsible sale of cannabis and their legal and regulatory obligations.

Cannabis Retail Seal

As described in Ontario Regulation 468/18, operators of cannabis retail stores authorized by the AGCO must print and display the Provincial Retail Seal in a place that is visible from the exterior of the public entrance to the cannabis retail store. The retail seal must be at least 17 centimetres in width at its widest point by 20 centimetres in length. Either the French version, the English version or both versions of the cannabis retail seal may be displayed. 

Once the AGCO has approved and issued a Retail Store Authorization, it will give the applicant access to downloadable versions of the seal in various file formats. The image cannot be altered in any way.

on-authorized-en_sample.png

Hearings - Cannabis

Hearings under the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018

Overview

Hearings for cannabis Retail Manager Licence and Retail Operator Licence matters under the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 are heard by the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT), which is an independent, quasi-judicial agency of the Government of Ontario that adjudicates applications and resolves disputes concerning compensation claims and licensing activities regulated by the provincial government. LAT is one of five tribunals in the Safety, Licensing Appeals and Standards Tribunal Ontario (SLASTO) cluster; it is not part of the AGCO.

If you have received a Notice of Proposal (NOP) issued by the Registrar, you have the right to a hearing/appeal before LAT. For more information about requesting a hearing/appeal as well as any fees LAT may require, please visit the LAT website.

Notice of Proposal

If the Registrar proposes to refuse, revoke or suspend a Retail Operator Licence, Retail Manager Licence, or to revoke or suspend a Retail Store Authorization, the Registrar will serve a Notice of Proposal (NOP) on the applicant/licensee outlining the reasons for the proposed action.

Applicants/licensees who wish to dispute a NOP issued by the Registrar may appeal it. If you receive an NOP and wish to request a hearing, you have fifteen (15) days to appeal to LAT. If an appeal is not received within fifteen (15) days, the Registrar may carry out the proposed action and a final Order will be issued.

The Registrar’s decision to issue or refuse a Cannabis Retail Store Authorization is final. Relief may be sought by way of an Application for Judicial Review to the Superior Court of Justice.

In a situation where there are serious violations alleged such that it is in the public interest not to allow a licensee to continue to sell cannabis, the Registrar may immediately suspend a Retail Operator Licence, Retail Store Authorization or Retail Store Manager Licence.

In certain instances, including where the holder of a Retail Operator Licence, a Retail Store Authorization or a Retail Manager Licence is convicted of selling cannabis to a minor, the Registrar is required by the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 to immediately revoke the licence or authorization.

LAT Decisions

Decisions of hearings held before LAT, can be found on the LAT website.

Guides