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

For information on how to apply, see the Application Process section in this guide.

Note: Persons (including individuals or corporations) may only apply for a cannabis Retail Operator Licence and a Retail Store Authorization if they: (1) submitted an Expression of Interest Application and were selected in the lottery, or (2) submitted a Retail Store Authorization Intent to Apply online form and were notified to apply for a ROL and RSA for a store on a First Nations reserve. Please see the Second allocation of stores - Allocation Lottery for more information. Please see Stores on First Nations Reserves for more information.

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

To be eligible for a Retail Operator Licence, the applicant(s) must meet the same requirements required for a Retail Store Authorization.

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 9.9 percent of the corporation is owned or controlled, either directly or indirectly, by a licensed producer or their affiliate.  

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

Please note that police and background checks will be conducted on applicants, and persons interested in the applicant, as needed, to determine eligibility for the issuance of the licence.

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 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. You may only apply for a cannabis Retail Operator Licence or a Retail Store Authorization if you: (1) submitted an Expression of Interest Application and were selected in the lottery or (2) submitted a Retail Store Authorization Intent to Apply online form and were notified to apply for a ROL and RSA for a store on a First Nations reserve.

A proposed 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. 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 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. Please refer to the Education Act for further details and definitions on what is considered a school or private school.)
  • May only operate between the hours of 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. (Monday to Sunday)
  • Must be the only business that will operate at the proposed retail store and must only sell permitted items, that is, cannabis, cannabis accessories and shopping bags.
  • Must be located in a municipality that permits cannabis retail stores.
     

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

To be eligible for a Retail Store Authorization, the applicant must not have made a false statement or provided false information in your application.

In addition, an applicant is not eligible for a retail store authorization if:

  • 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
  • If the issuance of the authorization has been deemed not 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).
  • If you or your affiliates hold a licence under the Cannabis Act (Canada) to produce cannabis for commercial purposes
  • The location of your proposed store is located in a municipality that:
    • Does not permit cannabis retail stores

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

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

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 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.
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. All retail store locations, other than those on First Nations reserves, will be required to undergo a 15-day public notice process during which the location must display a Public Notice stating that an authorization has been applied for. Members of the public will have 15 days to make a submission to the AGCO regarding how the store is not in the public interest. Applicants will then have five (5) days to provide written submissions to the Registrar in response to any public written submissions. For more information, see the Public Notice for a Cannabis Retail Store Authorization section of this guide.
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.

Cannabis Retail Manager Licence

In order to ensure the responsible sale of cannabis, there must be at least one licensed manager for each authorized store location.

A Cannabis Retail Manager licence is required by the manager of each retail store location and/or individuals* 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.

*Note:  If you are a sole proprietor, you do not need to get a Cannabis Retail Manager Licence for your store. You are however, still required to fulfil the educational requirements under Ontario law. For more information, see the previous section of this guide (Educational Requirements).

Eligibility

To be eligible for a Cannabis Retail Manager licence, an applicant must:

  • 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.

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.

Please note that police and background checks will be conducted on all applicants to determine eligibility for the licence.

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

To submit your online application, please have the following ready:

  • 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.

Once approved, licensees will be issued a licence, which must be readily accessible at all times at the authorized store at which they are employed.

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