The Cannabis Act is the legal and regulatory framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of recreational cannabis in Canada and was put in place by the federal government with the purpose of keeping cannabis out of the hands of youth, keeping profits out of the pockets of criminals and protecting public health and safety by allowing adults access to legal cannabis.  

Under the Cannabis Act, each province and territory is responsible for setting its own rules for how cannabis can be sold, where stores can be located, and how stores must be operated. Provinces and territories may also set additional restrictions they feel are necessary. As a result, the Government of Ontario has worked to implement a safe, legal system for cannabis retail that is intended to protect youth, protect roads and combat the illegal market for cannabis.  

The AGCO has responsibility for regulating Ontario’s privately-run cannabis retail stores under the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and Regulation 468/18.  Specifically, under Ontario’s regulatory model, the AGCO has been given the responsibility of:

  • licensing eligible retail store operators and managers
  • authorizing cannabis retail stores
  • regulating and enforcing the appropriate sale of recreational cannabis in privately-run stores in Ontario.

The AGCO’s focus is on the safe, responsible and lawful sale of cannabis, consistent with the legislation enacted by the provincial government. Its regulatory objectives are to ensure that the retail sale of cannabis in Ontario is carried out with honesty, integrity and in the public interest as set out in the Cannabis Licence Act, its regulation and the AGCO Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores.  

As the provincial regulator for privately run recreational cannabis stores, the AGCO also approves cannabis retail employee training programs, and regulates the sale of cannabis.

The AGCO works with licensed cannabis retail store owners and operators to help them understand their obligations and ensure they are selling cannabis in a safe, responsible and lawful manner.

AGCO Inspectors inspect retail store locations to confirm ongoing compliance with the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and regulations and standards.

For more information about the specific types of licences and authorizations available in the cannabis sector, visit the Cannabis section of the website.

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