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.

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