Overview of Cannabis Legislation in Ontario

This chapter provides a summary of your cannabis retail requirements under the relevant three pieces of legislation, being the Cannabis Act (federal) the Cannabis Control Act and the Cannabis Licence Act and its regulations. This is meant to be a guide. It is not a complete list of all rules and is not legal advice.

General

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

  • Retail Operator Licence
  • Retail Store Authorization
  • Cannabis Retail Manager Licence

The holders of Retail Operator Licences are called “licensed retail operators”.  To get this licence, you must meet all of the eligibility criteria set out in the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and its regulations.

References to “stores” or “retail stores” in this document refers to stores that sell or intend to sell recreational cannabis.  A store that has a Retail Store Authorization is called an “authorized store”.

Individuals who have a Cannabis Retail Manager Licence are called “licensed retail managers”.  Every retail store must have a licensed retail manager.  The only exception is 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 – in which case a Cannabis Retail Manager Licence is not required.

You may not sell cannabis unless you are licensed and authorized by the AGCO, and you have a supply purchase contract with the Ontario Cannabis Retail Store (OCS).  You may only sell cannabis obtained through the OCS. You may not sell cannabis subject to a Health Canada/Licensed Producer recall.

Retail Operator Licence

To be eligible to open a retail store and sell recreational cannabis, you must have a Retail Operator Licence.

You are not eligible for a Retail Operator Licence if:

  • you are under 19 years of age. This includes directors, officers and shareholders of corporations.
  • you have been convicted or charged with certain offences:
    • any offence under the Cannabis Licence Act
    • certain offences under the Cannabis Control Act (CCA) and Cannabis Act (CA)
  • you have, or previously had, certain roles or connections with a criminal organization as defined in subsection 467.1(1) of the Criminal Code (Canada):
    • you are, or have been a member of the criminal organization
    • you are, or have been involved in the criminal organization
    • you contribute, or have contributed to, the activities of the organization.
  • you are carrying on activities that are not in compliance with certain laws.
    • certain offences under the Cannabis Control Act (CCA) and Cannabis Act (CA)
  • you have made a false statement or provided false information in your application.
  • 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;
  • you have a business number with the Canada Revenue Agency and have not filed a tax return under certain Federal or provincial legislation; 
  • 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 one or more licensed producers or their affiliates.
  • you will not be financially responsible in operating your cannabis business.
  • you will not operate your cannabis retail business in compliance with the law, or with integrity, honesty or in the public interest.
  • you will not have sufficient control over the cannabis retail business
  • you had a Retail Store Authorization in the past but the authorization was revoked

Generally, you must wait two years to apply again for a Retail Operator Licence if you:

  • applied for a new licence or renewal licence in the past but were refused, or
  • you had a Retail Operator Licence in the past but the licence was revoked.

You may have conditions put on your Retail Operator Licence to address any specific risks or concerns.  There are also conditions in the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 that apply to all Retail Operator Licences.

You cannot transfer your Retail Operator Licence to another person or business.

Retail Store Authorization

To open a retail store and sell recreational cannabis, you must have a Retail Store Authorization. 

There are some places where you cannot open a cannabis retail store. More information about that is in the next section on Retail Store Location.

Generally, you must wait two years to apply again for a Retail Store Authorization if you:

  • applied for a new Retail Store Authorization or renewal of a Retail Store Authorization in the past but were refused, or
  • you had a Retail Store Authorization in the past but the authorization was revoked.

You are not eligible for a Retail Store Authorization for a store if:

  • you do not have a Retail Operator Licence now, or would not have a Retail Operator Licence at the time when the Retail Store Authorization would be issued.
  • you have a Retail Operator Licence that has conditions that do not allow you to apply for or receive a Retail Store Authorization for that store.
  • you have been convicted of or charged with certain offences:
    • any offence under the Cannabis Licence Act
    • certain offences under the Cannabis Control Act, 2017 and Cannabis Act (Canada) or their regulations
  • you have, or previously had, certain roles or connections with a criminal organization as defined in subsection 467.1(1) of the Criminal Code (Canada):
    • you are, or have been a member of the criminal organization
    • you are, or have been involved in the criminal organization
    • you contribute, or have contributed to, the activities of the organization.
  • you are carrying on activities that are not in compliance with certain with certain laws.
    • Certain offences under the Cannabis Control Act (CCA) and Cannabis Act (CA)
  • you hire or plan to hire someone who does not have a Cannabis Retail Manager Licence, but should have that Licence because of the work they do
  • it is not in the public interest, based on the needs and wishes of the people who live in the municipality where the proposed store would be located.
    • After you apply for a Retail Store Authorization, the Registrar will inform local residents and the municipality about the application by having a notice posted at the proposed store and on the AGCO’s website.
    • The municipality or local residents submit written submissions to the Registrar about whether the proposed store is in the public interest, as set out in regulation. The submissions must be sent within 15 calendar days after the notice is posted.
    • 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.
  • the store, equipment and facilities do not comply with the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, regulations, the Registrar’s Standards or requirements
  • you do not have sufficient control over the store, equipment and facilities
  • you have made a false statement or provided false information in your application

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.

You may have conditions put on your Retail Store Authorization to address any specific risks or concerns.  There are also conditions in the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and regulation that apply to all Retail Store Authorizations.

You cannot transfer your Retail Store Authorization to another person or business.

Retail Manager Licence

Every cannabis retail store must have a licensed retail manager. People who perform certain duties within the cannabis retail store must get a Cannabis Retail Manager Licence.  This includes people who: 

  • supervise, manage or hire employees of the store
  • manage the sale of cannabis
  • manage compliance issues relating to the sale of cannabis
  • buy cannabis for the store
  • enter into contracts for the store. 

The only people that can perform the duties listed above are people with a Cannabis Retail Manager Licence or a Retail Operator Licence. 

You are not eligible for a Cannabis Retail Manager Licence if: 

  • you are under 19 years of age 
  • as a licensed retail manager, you will not act in compliance with the law, or with integrity, honesty or in the public interest
  • you have been convicted or charged with certain offences: 
    • any offence under the Cannabis Licence Act 
    • certain offences under the Cannabis Control Act (CCA) and Cannabis Act (CA)
  • you have, or previously had, certain roles or connections with a criminal organization as defined in subsection 467.1(1) of the Criminal Code (Canada): 
    • you are, or have been a member of the criminal organization
    • you are, or have been involved in the criminal organization
    • you contribute, or have contributed to, the activities of the organization. 
  • you are carrying on activities that are not in compliance with certain laws. 
    • certain offences under the Cannabis Control Act (CCA) and Cannabis Act (CA)
  • you have made a false statement or provided false information in your application

Generally,  you must wait 2 years to apply again for a Cannabis Retail Manager Licence if you:

  • applied for a new Cannabis Retail Manager Licence or renewal Cannabis Retail Manager Licence in the past but were refused, or
  • you had a Cannabis Retail Manager Licence in the past but the licence was revoked.

You may have conditions put on your Cannabis Retail Manager Licence to address any specific risks or concerns. There are also conditions in the Cannabis Licence Act that apply to all Cannabis Retail Manager Licences. 

You cannot transfer your Cannabis Retail Manager Licence to another individual. 

Retail Store Location

There are some places where you cannot open a cannabis retail store.  More information about those rules is provided below. 

Municipalities:    

Ontario municipalities had a one-time option to opt out of having cannabis retail stores in their communities. They had until January 22, 2019 to notify the AGCO that their council had taken a resolution to opt out of having cannabis retail stores. Municipalities that choose to opt out can opt back in at any time—but once they have opted in, they may not reverse their decision. 

Therefore, cannabis retail stores cannot be located in a municipality that has passed a resolution prohibiting cannabis retail stores from being located in the municipality.  

  • If a municipality decided not to allow cannabis retail stores, they must have informed the AGCO about their decision by January 22, 2019.  
  • The AGCO’s website has a list of municipalities that have decided not to allow cannabis retail stores.  

Near Schools:  

A cannabis retail store 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 property line of the school or private school. This will be determined as follows:  

  • when the school or private school is the primary or only occupant of a building, 150 metres 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 meters shall be measured from the boundary of any space occupied by the school or private school within the building. 

(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.)

How does the AGCO Calculate School Proximity?

To automate iAGCO approvals, the AGCO has created an exclusion map using the latest school location data provided by the Ministry of Education. A proposed cannabis retail store that is located within 150 metres of the boundary of a school or private school is ineligible.

Upon request, AGCO staff can conduct a review of School Proximity Calculation to verify the distance between a proposed cannabis retail store location and a school or private school.  The 150 metre distance is measured by a straight line between the closest point of the proposed retail space to the following point of the school:

  • If the school or private school is the primary or only occupant of a building, 150 metres shall be measured from the property line of the property on which the school or private school is located. 
  • If the school or private school is not the primary or only occupant of a building, 150 meters shall be measured from the boundary of any space occupied by the school or private school within the building.

Where a school and/or a proposed cannabis retail store is located above the ground floor elevation of a building, the AGCO will calculate the 150-metre distance as the sum of the combined straight line horizontal and vertical distances (if applicable) between the points identified above.

Please refer to the Education Act for further details and definitions on what is considered a school or private school.

Retail Store Requirements

There must be separation between your cannabis business and other businesses. If an existing retail space is renovated to create two or more spaces, the space that is intended to be a cannabis retail store must adhere to the listed criteria below and all the eligibility requirements set out in the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and regulation. 

The retail space where you will sell cannabis: 

  • must be enclosed by walls separating it from any other commercial establishment or activity
  • does not include an outdoor area
  • cannot be entered from or passed through in order to access any other commercial establishment or activity, other than a common area of an enclosed shopping mall.

In addition, the area where cannabis will be received or stored cannot be accessible by any other business or by the public. This does not mean that an establishment is required to have a separate door for product receipt. For example, if a premises has only one door, product could be received through this door outside of business hours, or access to the door could be restricted by security personnel at the time of product delivery.

Background Checks

As part of its review of your application for a new licence or authorization, or renewal licence or authorization, the AGCO may do background checks and investigations on applicants, and any affiliated or interested parties in the business, as needed. The AGCO may look at the character, financial history and competence of persons applying for a licence or authorization.  You may be required to pay some of the costs of the background checks or investigations.

Training

In Ontario, anyone who works in a cannabis retail store must successfully complete an AGCO Board approved cannabis retail employee training program before their first day of work to support the safe sale and consumption of cannabis. This includes:

  • holders of a Retail Store Authorization
  • holders of a Cannabis Retail Manager Licence
  • employees of a cannabis retail store

Operating a Store

There are rules you must follow when operating your store. 

You must: 

  • begin selling cannabis at your authorized store within one year of getting your Retail Store Authorization, and continue to sell cannabis
  • open only during permissible hours: between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. on any day
  • display the official cannabis retail seal. You must post the seal in a place where people can easily see it from outside the entrance to the store. The seal must be at least 17 centimetres wide and 20 centimetres long. You can chose to post the French version of the seal, or the English version, or both. 
  • remove the seal as soon as possible if your Retail Store Authorization is revoked or not renewed
  • post your Retail Store Authorization in the store in a place where people can easily see it
  • only sell cannabis that has been made by someone who is authorized under the Cannabis Act (Canada) to make cannabis for commercial purposes
  • keep records of specified information and activities
  • have measures in place to reduce the risk that your cannabis will be redirected to the illegal market or illegal activities
  • record all sales
  • make information about the responsible use of cannabis available to patrons
  • ensure that all licensed managers and other employees working in your store successfully complete the required Board approved training program prior to their first day of work at the store. 
  • request identification of anyone who looks under 25 years old and be satisfied the person is at least 19 years of age prior to allowing them to enter the store. 

You must not: 

  • sell cannabis or cannabis accessories to anyone who is under 19 years old
  • allow anyone who looks under 25 years old to enter the store, unless you first request identification and are satisfied the person is at least 19 years of age
  • sell cannabis to anyone who is intoxicated or looks intoxicated
  • sell more than 30 grams of dried cannabis (or equivalent amount of another kind) to a person in a single visit
  • hire anyone who is under 19 years of age. 

You cannot sell cannabis or cannabis accessories from a display that allows self-service, or from a vending machine. 

You must display your cannabis and accessories in a way that they cannot be seen by a young person, even from outside the store.

Renewing your Licence or Authorization

You must apply to renew your licence or authorization before the current term expires. 

Your licence or authorization will be renewed if you have met the application requirements and paid the required fee. However it will not be renewed if: 

  • you have failed to comply with the legislation or regulations
  • you no longer meet the eligibility requirements for the licence or authorization. 

If your Retail Store Authorization is not renewed, you must follow any rules set by the Registrar regarding the disposal of cannabis that has not been sold or distributed. 

Cannabis Retail - Conditions

As part of the AGCO’s risk-based licensing approach, one or more conditions may be attached to a Cannabis Retail Operator Licence, Retail Manager Licence and/or Retail Store Authorization by the Registrar to help the licensee minimize risks identified during the assessment process. Below is a complete list of the conditions the Registrar may impose, as approved by the AGCO Board of Directors:

#

Condition

Honesty, Integrity and Financial Responsibility

1

The holder of the licence and/or authorization shall notify the Registrar in writing within five (5) business days of entering into any agreement with respect to changes in ownership, control or affiliations of the licence holder or authorized store and provide proof that the agreement complies with all regulatory requirements and/or the lottery rules.

2

A licensed retail manager or the licensed operator must be onsite at the authorized store at all times while the authorized store is open.

3

The holder of the licence and/or authorization shall have a written code of conduct for employees and provide proof that employees have read and understand the requirements.

4

The holder of the licence and/or authorization must notify the Registrar in writing within five (5) business days of any new source of funds used to support operations of the holder of the licence and/or the authorization or operations of the authorized store.

5

A licensed retail manager must perform the following duties at the store: (DUTIES)

Minors

6

The holder of the licence and/or authorization shall ensure that the identification of every individual who appears to be under the age of 25 years is inspected at entrance(s) to the authorized store and at the point(s) of sale.

Safety and Security

7

The holder of the licence and/or authorization shall maintain a log confirming the security camera equipment is functioning at all times. The logs shall be made available for inspection and review upon request by the AGCO.

8

The holder of the licence and/or authorization shall retain all surveillance recordings for at least XXX day(s).

9

The holder of the licence and/or authorization shall ensure that there is a sufficient number of licensed and visibly identifiable security personnel at all times while the authorized store is open.

10

The authorized store shall be staffed with at least XX (number of) licensed and visibly identifiable security guard(s) from XX:XX (am/pm) until closing.

11

The authorized store must be equipped with a working monitored alarm system to detect and log attempted unauthorized access to and unauthorized movement within the authorized store premises.

12

The holder of the licence and/or retail store authorization shall ensure that measures are in place to prevent and address disorderly conduct on the authorized store premises, property adjacent to and in the vicinity of the premises by persons either waiting to enter or persons exiting the premises.

Prohibited Person(s)

13

The holder of the licence and/or authorization shall ensure that the following individual(s) is/are not permitted to enter or be at the authorized store: (NAMES)

14

The holder of the licence and/or authorization shall ensure the following persons have no involvement in the business operations of the authorized store, including as an officer, director, shareholder or owner and/or have no involvement or beneficial or financial interest in the business or ongoing operations of the licence: (NAME(S)

15

The holder of the licence and/or authorization shall ensure that the following individual(s) is/are not permitted in the authorized store except to perform duties arising from his/her position as landlord or sub-landlord in accordance with the following terms:

(NAME(S)

(TERM (S)

16

The holder of the licence and/or authorization shall ensure that the following individual(s) is/are not involved directly or indirectly in the operation and financing of the business:

17

The holder of the licence and/or authorization shall not employ the following individual (s) in any capacity: (NAME(S)

Product Security and Record-Keeping

18

The holder of the licence and/or authorization must ensure that physical inventory counts are carried out on a daily basis for each day that the authorized store is open, that a log is kept, and any discrepancies are reported in writing to the AGCO within 24 hours.

19

The holder of the licence and/or authorization must submit in writing a report to the AGCO on a biweekly/weekly basis of all inventory movements of cannabis products.

20

The holder of the licence and/or authorization shall ensure that all employees are subject to screening for stolen product before exiting the authorized store.

21

The holder of the licence may not transport cannabis between their authorized store locations.

22

The holder of the licence and/or authorization must notify the AGCO in writing within 72 hours in advance of destroying any cannabis.

23

The holder of the licence and/or authorization must ensure that after operating hours, all cannabis is locked in a secure storage room accessible only by authorized staff.

24

The holder of the licence and/or authorization must maintain a list of employees that are authorized to access the secure cannabis storage room.

25

The secure cannabis storage room may not be used for any other purpose other than the storage of cannabis.

26

The holder of the licence and/or authorization must ensure that sensory display containers are physically tethered or affixed to a secure surface.

27

The holder of the licence and/or authorization may not use sensory display containers in the authorized store.

28

The holder of the licence and/or authorization must ensure that patrons do not handle any cannabis until it is purchased.

Compliance Plans

29

The holder of the licence and/or authorization (applicant) shall submit by (DATE) a proposed compliance plan to the Registrar for review and filing that addresses the objectives identified by the Registrar, including but not limited to the following issues: (ISSUE TYPES)

30

The holder of the licence and/or authorization (applicant) shall submit by (DATE) a proposed compliance plan to the Registrar for review and approval that addresses the objectives identified by the Registrar, including but not limited to the following issues: (ISSUE TYPES)

31

The holder of the licence and/or authorization (applicant) shall comply with the compliance plan filed with the Registrar.

32

The holder of the licence and/or authorization (applicant) shall comply with the compliance plan approved by the Registrar.

33

The holder of the licence and/or authorization shall keep the compliance plan onsite at their authorized store(s) and make it available to AGCO upon request.

Cannabis Retail - Plans

As part of the AGCO’s risk-based licensing approach, the Registrar may require that a licensee prepare one or more plans to address areas of risk identified during the assessment process. Below is the type of plan the Registrar may require, as approved by the AGCO Board of Directors:

Compliance Plan

A plan designed to ensure that the authorized store is operating in compliance with the overall cannabis retail regulatory regime in place in Ontario, helping to protect the public-at-large, as well as the licensee, from potential harm caused when regulations are not followed. The plan must identify best practices, policies and other requirements that the licensee will adopt in order to achieve specific and general compliance goals, with a primary focus on the regulatory requirements that are specific to retail cannabis licensees.

This includes reasonably addressing issues such as record-keeping and inventory management, safety and security, management structure and policies, preventing access by minors, preventing illicit activity, the type of products available for sale, staff training, store policies, internal control issues, and other general compliance issues.

Cannabis Retail - Modifications to Existing Licences/Authorizations

Removing a Condition on a Cannabis Licence/Authorization

If you have a condition(s) on your cannabis Retail Operator Licence, Retail Manager Licence and/or Retail Store Authorization, and circumstances have changed, you may apply to have a condition removed. Depending on the manner in which the condition was added to your licence and/or authorization you will be required to apply to either the AGCO or the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT).

You may apply to the AGCO’s Registrar to have a condition on your licence and/or authorization removed if:

  • The condition was imposed on a licence/authorization by the Registrar with your consent pursuant to the Cannabis Licence Act.
  • The condition was imposed on the licence/authorization by the Registrar as part of the AGCO’s risk-based licensing process. Risk-based licensing conditions can only be removed if the Registrar determines that the risk designation is no longer necessary. 

Please note that the Registrar will only consider removing a condition if the circumstances that required it have changed and it is deemed to no longer be necessary.

You may apply to the LAT to have a condition on your licence and/or authorization removed if:

  • The condition was imposed by a panel of the LAT after a hearing

In this case, you must consult the LAT website for the applicable forms and process.

Changing Legal Entity Type

If you are a Retail Operator Licence holder and would like to change your applicant type, ownership and /or corporate structure, you must submit a new Retail Operator Licence and Retail Store Authorization application along with their associated application fees.

Cannabis Retail Operator Licence, Retail Store Authorization and Cannabis Retail Manager Licence - Risk-Based Licensing

The AGCO employs a risk-based approach when issuing and regulating Cannabis Retail Operator Licences, Cannabis Retail Manager Licences, and Cannabis Retail Store Authorizations. Risk-based licensing allows the AGCO to encourage good business practices throughout the industry and to focus its own regulatory resources where they will make the most difference.

Although there is always some risk attached to the sale of recreational cannabis, the AGCO recognizes that due to variables (such as location, past history and experience), some establishments and individuals pose a greater risk to the public interest and/or to non-compliance with the law. Risk-based licensing is one of several initiatives the AGCO has implemented in the other sectors it regulates.  This approach to licensing allows AGCO to base its decisions on risk assessments and its approach to regulation on encouraging compliance rather than relying solely on enforcement following any violations.

Risk-based licensing assists Cannabis Retail Operator licensees, Cannabis Retail Manager licensees and Cannabis Retail Store Authorization holders in operating their establishments in a safe, responsible, and compliant way.

The authority to carry out a risk-based licensing regime is given to the AGCO under Section 6 (5) of the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018.

How Risk-Based Licensing Works

There are four key principles behind risk-based licensing:

  1. To identify persons or places that pose specific risks to the public interest;
  2. To lessen risks and ensure compliance with the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, and its regulations, and the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores through the entire lifecycle of a licence;
  3. To reduce the administrative burden for those who pose a lower risk, where possible; and
  4. To focus more AGCO resources on those cannabis retail stores that pose enhanced risks.

The application of risk-based licensing can occur at any point in the lifecycle of a Cannabis Retail Operator licence, Cannabis Retail Manager licence, and Cannabis Retail Store Authorizations.

New applicants proceed through a three step process:

  1. After an application, for a licence or authorization, is received, an eligibility assessment process takes place. During the initial application or authorization review, the Registrar uses specific criteria to assess the risk(s) posed to the public interest, and of non-compliance with the law.
  2. After reviewing all the available information on the licensee/applicant, the Registrar assesses the risks and determines if the licence should proceed to an enhanced review.
    • If the Registrar believes that no conditions need to be placed on a licence, or if a licensee has taken steps on his/her own to recognize and manage any risks, then these establishments will see no change in the way that their licences are administered.
  1. If the Registrar believes that a licensee may need more assistance and support to remain compliant with the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, following the eligibility assessment review, then conditions may be placed on the licence, and/or more AGCO resources will be focused on the licensee in order to mitigate any risks.

Applicants renewing their licence or authorization, or having a condition on their licence, would only proceed through steps 2 and 3.

During the lifetime of a licence or authorization, the Registrar can reassess the risk posed by the licensee. This reassessment can occur either because the licensee requests a reassessment, or because the Registrar becomes aware that there has been a change in circumstances and there should be a reassessment. At each of these times the Registrar may add, remove or amend one or more conditions.

Suspension or Revocation of Licences & Authorizations

All owners/operators of cannabis retail stores along with store managers are subject to the provincial Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, its regulations and the Registrar’s Standards.

If you do not comply with legislation and regulations or are no longer eligible for your licence or authorization, your licence or authorization may be suspended or revoked.  You will be advised of the licence or authorization being suspended or revoked and can request a hearing before the Licence Appeal Tribunal.

In some cases, depending on the reasons, the licence or authorization may be suspended or revoked immediately.

If your Retail Store Authorization is suspended, you must post a sign about the suspension in a place where people can easily see it from outside the store.

If your Retail Store Authorization is revoked, suspended or cancelled, you must comply with any rules set by the Registrar regarding the disposal of cannabis that has not been sold or distributed.

Compliance Officials

AGCO compliance officials may visit the retail store location to confirm compliance with the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and regulations. You must allow the inspection, and you must not interfere with the compliance official, refuse to answer questions related to the inspection, or provide false information.  

 When doing an inspection, an AGCO compliance official may: 

  • ask you for and look at certain records that are relevant to the inspection
  • take certain 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 an compliance official asks you for a record, you must provide it.  You must also must help the official understand the record or provide it in a readable form.

Inducements

If you have a Retail Operator Licence, a Retail Store Authorization and/or a Cannabis Retail Manager Licence, no one is allowed to offer you, or your employees, a material inducement or benefit. 

You are not allowed to give or offer to give away cannabis or cannabis accessories to someone without charge.  You cannot offer things or services to induce a person to purchase cannabis. 

Advertising and Promotion

Under the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 (CLA) and Regulation 468/18, the Registrar has the authority to establish standards and requirements with respect to a number of areas, including advertising and promotional activities.

Information about the standards and requirements for advertising and promoting cannabis, cannabis accessories or the sale of cannabis can be found in section 6 of the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores.

Please note cannabis retail store operators are also subject to the federal Cannabis Act and its regulations, which outline permissible and prohibited advertising and promotional activities.

In general, advertising and promotion includes any public notices, representations or activities that aim to attract attention to cannabis, cannabis accessories or the sale of cannabis.

Monetary Penalties - Cannabis

Monetary penalties are one of the compliance tools the AGCO may use when licensed operators, retail store managers or authorized stores are found to have acted out of compliance with the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 (CLA), its regulation or the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores.

A monetary penalty is a financial consequence that a licensee or authorized retailer is required to pay as a result of a contravention of the CLA, regulations or standards. Monetary penalties are a step towards ensuring compliance that allows the AGCO to take appropriate regulatory action that is greater than a warning but not as severe as a licence or authorization suspension or revocation. The use of monetary penalties  aligns Ontario with the majority of other Canadian jurisdictions, which have some form of monetary penalty system.

Schedule of Monetary Penalties: Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and Regulation 468/18

For more information, see the Monetary Penalties page.