Legal Cannabis Supply Chain
Health Canada regulates the cultivation and processing of cannabis and licenses producers, called “Licensed Producers”.
Licensed Producers are the only legal growers/producers of cannabis products in Ontario.
The Ontario Cannabis Store is a Crown agency of the Government of Ontario and is the only legal supplier (wholesaler) of cannabis for private retail stores in Ontario. The OCS operates the only legal online store for recreational cannabis sales in Ontario. The AGCO does not regulate the OCS.
The Licences and Authorizations you need from the AGCO
Retail Operator Licence
To be able to legally open a retail store to sell recreational cannabis, you must get a Retail Operator Licence. To get this licence, you must meet all of the eligibility criteria set out in the Cannabis Licence Act and its regulations.
A Retail Operator Licence allows you to operate one or more retail stores in Ontario. However, you must have a separate Retail Store Authorization for every store you wish to operate.
Under the temporary allocation system, no licences will be issued to operators who wish to operate a store on reserve land initially. This will allow for more time for the province to engage and have discussions with First Nations on what on-reserve approaches work best. Indigenous people will be eligible to apply for the lottery, if the proposed outlet is located off reserve in an otherwise permissible municipality.
Retail Store Authorization
You must have a Retail Store Authorization for each one of your stores because the Cannabis Licence Act 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.
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. The Cannabis Licence Act and its regulations set out eligibility criteria for the person who will have management responsibilities in authorized stores. This includes having responsibility for the cannabis inventory, for hiring and managing employees, and for ensuring the store operates with honesty and integrity at all times.
If you are a sole proprietor, or 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, you do not need to get a Cannabis Retail Manager Licence for your store.
The Local Community
Ontario municipalities have a one-time option to opt out of having cannabis retail stores in their communities. Municipalities have until January 22, 2019 to inform the AGCO if they wish to opt out. Municipalities that choose to opt out can opt back in at any time—but once they are in, they may no longer opt out.
Residents in the municipality of a proposed cannabis store location have an opportunity to share their views with the AGCO before a retail store is authorized. The Registrar may refuse to authorize the store if it is in the public interest to do so.
The only areas of public interest the Registrar can consider, as defined by the regulations, are related to public health and safety, protecting youth and restricting their access to cannabis, and preventing illegal activities in relation to cannabis.
Note: this page is also available as a pdf infographic.