1. Does the First Nation have to be the applicant? This Retail Store Authorization on a First Nation process appears to be garnered towards an independent operator in obtaining all the necessary requirements and training for staff.  Does the process change if a Band Council wishes to pursue this opportunity through an Economic Development Corporation located on its territory?
    An applicant can be a corporation, limited partnership, partnership, trust or sole proprietor.  The applicant does not have to be the First Nation. For a license to be issued, however, the applicant must provide a Band Council Resolution approving the store’s location.
     
  2. What are the restrictions on assignment and transfer? Are assignments and transfers to related parties ok if there is no change of control? Will it be possible for a company to apply for a licence, and operate the store for a period of time (i.e. 4-5 years), and then have a change in ownership?
    To operate a cannabis retail store, both a retail operator licence and retail store authorization are required. The Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 does not permit the transfer of the retail operator licence nor the retail store authorization.  A new retail operator application and retail store authorization application are required if corporate structure were to change (e.g. from a sole proprietor to a corporation).
     
  3. When does the store location need to be constructed and operating?
    The Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 requires that cannabis be sold at an authorized retail store by the first anniversary of the date a Retail Store Authorization (RSA) was issued. There is no requirement that the RSA be issued within a specified timeframe.
    The AGCO will work closely with applicants proposing a store on a First Nations reserve through the licensing process.
     
  4. Can a cannabis retail store have other commercial tenants at the property, provided it has self contained and secure premises to operate the Cannabis store?
    A cannabis retail store will need to meet the requirements of the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores.
    Under Ontario Regulation 468/18, to be authorized a retail store must:
    • Be enclosed by walls separating it from any other commercial establishment
    • Not be entered from, or passed through, in order to access any commercial establishment or activity, other than a common area of an enclosed shopping mall
    • Allow for cannabis product to be received or stored in a way that is not accessible to any other commercial establishment, activity, or to the public.

    As part of its licensing process, the AGCO will work with cannabis retail store operators so that requirements are understood.

  1. Is there a size requirement for the premises?
    No, however, a cannabis retail store will need to meet the requirements of the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores.
     
  2. If a First Nation is working with an operator who is found to be ineligible, under the AGCO’s eligibility criteria and due diligence check, would that First Nation have the opportunity to work with a new operator?
    In the first come, first served process for cannabis retail stores to be located on-reserve, the application for a Retail Operator Licence is made by the potential operator of the retail store.  If the potential operator is deemed to be ineligible for a licence under the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, the next applicant of a complete application in the first come, first served process will be notified to apply for a Retail Operator Licence.
     
  3. What if a First Nation no longer wants an operator to have a store on their reserve? Would AGCO pull that licence? Would that operator be able to relocate to another reserve or an off-reserve location?
    If a Band Council amends or rescinds a resolution, or passes a resolution that does not permit a cannabis store to be located in that location before the Retail Store Authorization is issued, the applicant is ineligible for a store at that location and the Registrar will not issue the authorization.  The holder of the retail operator licence would be able to apply for a retail store authorization in another location on a reserve, provided that a Band Council Resolution approving the location is submitted to the AGCO.
    If a Band Council amends or rescinds an existing resolution, or passes a resolution that does not permit a cannabis store to be located in that location after the Retail Store Authorization is issued, the  Retail Store Authorization will continue until the end of the authorization period (either two or four years).
     
  4. Will there be any special conditions on the First Nation licences because the stores are on-reserve? 
    The AGCO, at times, will attach conditions to a Retail Operator Licence, a Retail Store Authorization and/or a Retail Manager Licence based on a variety of risk factors. The AGCO does not have special  conditions for stores located on reserve.
     
  5. Is there a $75 application fee?  
    No.  There is no application fee to submit a Retail Store Authorization Intent to Apply – First Nations Reserve application.
    There are, however, licence and renewal fees for a Retail Operator Licence, Retail Store Authorization and Retail Manager Licence. The Retail Operator Licence fee is $6,000, a Retail Store Authorization is $4,000, and a Retail Manager Licence is $750.  Licensing fees are paid when applications are submitted.
     
  6. Is there mandatory wording required in the Band Council Resolution? 
    No. Approval of store location is the only mandatory requirement; however, it is preferable that the Band Council Resolution also include the date of approval and the name of the retail store operator to assist the AGCO during the application process.
     
  7. What documents, aside from the Band Council Resolution, are required as part of my application? Is there a requirement to provide documentation:   
    • Relating to who the owners of the applicant are, and establishing their status as a member of the First Nation in which the store is to be located?
    • Showing the ownership or lease status of the space in which the store is to be located? Affirming that the applicant can obtain the cash equivalent of $250,000 or some lesser amount?
    • Any other documentation?

    Aside from the Band Council Resolution, no additional documentation is required.

  1. What are the regulatory costs associated with the Retail Operator Licence and Retail Store Authorization? Has there been any consideration of making costs lower because of the size of the stores in these smaller markets?
    AGCO fees are established to help cover the costs of the overall regulatory scheme. As such, regulatory fees are applied consistently across the province.
  2. How long is the process from application to license? 
    • Circumstances that will delay issuance of a Retail Operator Licence include:
      • Higher risk applicant eligibility factors requiring closer inspection (e.g. criminal, financial and other applicant/affiliate background considerations)
      • Complex corporate structure
      • Incomplete application submissions requiring multiple discussions with the applicant
      • Applicant delays in: (1) responding to the AGCO when it requests clarifications or further information or (2) providing the AGCO with fully executed agreements with third parties and disclosure information on all parties with an interest in the business
    • Circumstances that will delay issuance of a Retail Store Authorization include:
      • Incomplete application submissions requiring multiple discussions with the applicant
      • Applicant delays in responding to the AGCO when it requests clarifications or further information
      • The store is not ready for pre-authorization inspection
      • The store does not meet pre-authorization inspection requirements.

The timing of the AGCO’s licensing and due diligence processes can vary depending on a variety of factors.

  1. What due diligence is required? We have our own due diligence procedures – will that be sufficient?
    The AGCO is open to engaging with each First Nation to better understand their concerns and discuss how we can work together to ensure successful regulatory outcomes.  Prospective retailers that are licensed by the AGCO will be required to follow federal and provincial rules and regulations, including the AGCO’s regulatory licensing and compliance processes.
     
  2. Can a Band Council issue more than one Band Council Resolution?
    Yes. A Band Council can issue more than one Band Council Resolution. However, there may not be more than one cannabis retail store on any one reserve.
     
  3.  What would disqualify an applicant from being considered for a store located on-reserve? Will the Board, owner and staff of the applicant need to pass a security check?
    At the time of applying for the Retail Operator Licence, the applicant for the store on the First Nation will be subject to the eligibility criteria that are set out in the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, O. Reg. 468/18 and the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores.  These criteria apply to all applicants regardless of where the store is located.  For further details regarding this process, please see the Cannabis Retail Regulation Guide
    Under the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 an applicant may not be eligible for a retail operator licence for a variety of reasons, including:
    • The AGCO is not satisfied that they will have sufficient control over the cannabis retail business
    • The applicant has convictions under federal cannabis legislation, such as the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (Canada) and the Cannabis Act (Canada)
    • The applicant has convictions under provincial cannabis legislation, such as the Cannabis Control Act, 2017 and Cannabis Licence Act, 2018
  1. Can an applicant have investments in a licensed producer (i.e. be a minority shareholder)?
    Ontario Regulation 468/18 provides that a licensed producer or affiliate of a licensed producer is ineligible to be allocated a retail store authorization. The definition of affiliate is located at s. 2 of O. Reg. 468/18.
     
  2. Why has training been awarded to the private sector instead of being offered by the AGCO?
    The AGCO selected to partner with Lift & Co and MADD because they were best positioned to develop a customized employee training program that provided prospective employees with the knowledge to sell cannabis responsibly and in compliance with Ontario law. An established training provider in the cannabis retail space, Lift & Co 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. Note: the primary responsible sale and service training program in the alcohol sector is similarly administered by an independent organization (i.e. Smart Serve Ontario).
     
  3. Who, where and when will be the training be provided for Analysts and Inspectors identified by both provincial and federal legislation?
    AGCO Compliance Officials will visit retail cannabis store locations to confirm compliance with the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and regulations. AGCO Compliance Officials are hired and trained directly by the AGCO.
    The AGCO is open to maintaining ongoing dialogue with First Nations communities on its licensing and compliance processes.

For More Information

The AGCO is dedicated to providing the highest level of service in all aspects of our business. If you are looking for more information or have a question, please feel free to contact us:

  • Submit your questions online at www.agco.ca/iAGCO
  • Call our Customer Service Department Monday to Friday from 8:30 am – 5:00 pm at (416) 326-8700 or toll free 1 (800) 522-2876 .
  • Please subscribe to our cannabis email list to receive regular updates as information becomes available.
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