February 7, 2019

AGCO Board Approves “CannSell” as the Authorized Cannabis Retail Employee Training Program

After reviewing a number of programs and providers from across Canada, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is announcing that its Board of Directors has approved CannSell as the training program that all employees of privately run cannabis retail stores in Ontario will be required to complete.

CannSell is a training program developed by Lift & Co. in partnership with MADD Canada. It will provide prospective employees of all privately run cannabis retail stores the knowledge they will need to sell cannabis responsibly and in compliance with Ontario law. The training will also provide basic knowledge about cannabis to ensure those who are selling it understand its various forms, effects and consequences of use.

Over the next few years, CannSell will be the required training for all Ontario cannabis retail employees. Under Ontario law, any person who works in a cannabis retail store must successfully complete this training before their first day of work.

CannSell will be available to interested individuals as of February 25, 2019.The training program will take approximately 4 hours to complete and will be delivered as an online program.

Lift & Co. is an established training provider in the cannabis retail space and has created similar training programs for use in other provinces, including Nova Scotia and PEI. MADD is a leading voice in the fight to end impaired driving and is experienced in delivering education and awareness initiatives that help people understand the impact and consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

Lift & Co. and MADD have been able to leverage their experience to develop a customized employee training program for Ontario that will be ready in advance of stores opening in April 2019.



December  24, 2018

KPMG will be the independent fairness monitor for Ontario’s cannabis retail store lottery

On December 13, the Government of Ontario announced changes to how cannabis retail stores will be allocated across the province. Given the shortage of legal cannabis supply from federally licensed producers, the government will now allow private cannabis retail stores to open in phases and has provided the AGCO the authority to authorize up to 25 stores in the initial phase.

A lottery, conducted by the AGCO, will be held to determine who will be able to apply for one of the 25 initial stores.   

The AGCO has retained the services of KPMG to act as fairness monitor to oversee this lottery. KPMG will not be selecting the lottery winners, but will monitor the lottery in order to assess whether it is conducted fairly and according to the established rules. The AGCO will publish the lottery rules once they have been reviewed by KPMG. We are aiming to publish the lottery rules on January 2, 2019.

The AGCO’s Gaming Laboratory has developed the software program that will be used for the selection of the Expressions of Interest that applicants will submit to enter this lottery. The Gaming Laboratory is the AGCO’s in-house laboratory that uses state-of-the-art equipment to test and analyze the integrity of all lottery, casino and internet gaming systems used in Ontario. The AGCO’s Gaming Laboratory is accredited to the international standard ISO 17025:2005, which is considered the international benchmark for excellence in testing laboratories.

To provide further assurances of the integrity of this software program, the AGCO has submitted it for independent testing and certification from Gaming Laboratories International (GLI®), an independent  testing laboratory which holds international accreditations for compliance with ISO/IEC 17025, 17020, and 17065 standards for technical competence in the gaming, wagering and lottery industries. Stay tuned for more information.



December 13, 2018

Government announces changes to the allocation of cannabis retail licensing

The Government of Ontario has announced changes to the allocation of cannabis retail licensing. Read the full text of the government’s announcement.

As the government has indicated, given the shortage of legal cannabis supply from federally licensed producers, it has changed the approach to how private retail stores will be allocated.  Due to this limited supply, the government will allow private cannabis retail stores to open in phases, by providing authority for the AGCO to license up to 25 stores in the initial phase.

The government has made a new regulation under the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 that allows a lottery system to be implemented to determine who will be able to apply for one of the 25 initial stores. The AGCO will run the lottery and it will be overseen by a third-party fairness monitor. People who wish to participate in the lottery will do so by submitting Expressions of Interest, online, from January 7-9, 2019. As a result, the AGCO will not begin accepting applications for cannabis retail licences and authorizations on December 17, as had previously been announced.

As a next step, the AGCO will be moving ahead to retain the services of a third-party fairness monitor and will provide them with the rules of the lottery. At that point, we will publish the lottery rules to our website and send out a notification as soon they are available. We will also plan a webinar to clearly explain the lottery rules and procedures. The webinar will be scheduled for the first week of January. We will provide further details on the date and how to register for that webinar as soon as they are confirmed.



November 14, 2018

Proclamation of the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and regulations

The Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and its regulations came into force on November 16, 2018. As of this date, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) officially became the regulator of private recreational cannabis retailing in Ontario.

The Government of Ontario has set up a licensing and regulatory framework to regulate private retail of recreational cannabis. Those who wish to apply for a retail operator licence, open and operate a retail store or work in one will need to learn about and comply with all of the related rules and regulations.

The AGCO will be publishing a Cannabis Retail Regulation Guide on-line. This will be a comprehensive guide that will include relevant information about cannabis regulation in one location.  

Since much of the process is still in development, we will publish new chapters to this guide as information becomes available. We will also send an email alert to subscribers when new chapters have been added. If you have not already done so, you can subscribe to receive email updates.

The chapters of this guide will provide information about:

  • The Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and its regulations
  • The Registrars Standards, which will govern the operation of retail stores
  • Licence and authorization types, the application process and fees
  • The one-time option municipalities have to prohibit cannabis stores from operating in their jurisdiction
  • The public notice process related to the authorization of retail stores
  • AGCO inspections to ensure store readiness
  • The mandatory training that all cannabis store employees will have to successfully complete
  • Allowable advertising and promotional activities
  • And more…

In order to help potential applicants understand the requirements and prepare their applications, we will be providing a number of supports before December 17, including hosting a series of educational webinars and posting a summary of the required application information.  We will be sharing more information about these supports in the following days.

In the meantime, you can view this infographic that provides an overview of the cannabis retail regulation landscape in Ontario.

Stay tuned for more information to come.



October 18, 2018

Ontario’s Provincial Legislature Passes Cannabis Statute Law Amendment Act, 2018

Ontario’s provincial legislature passed the Cannabis Statute Law Amendment Act on October 17, 2018. This Act sets out the legal structure for private cannabis retail in Ontario and gives the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) the authority to license, regulate and enforce the sale of recreational cannabis through privately run stores in Ontario. 

More information will be available in the coming weeks. 

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