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Nov 15, 2018

Significant details about Ontario cannabis retail revealed by provincial government

By Matt Maurer

Yesterday, the Ontario Government released a number of significant details about Ontario cannabis retail.

Details that are noteworthy for those interested in pursuing a retail license include the following:

  • Cannabis retail stores must be at least 150 metres away from schools, including private and federally-funded First Nation schools off-reserve.
  • Retailers cannot permit anyone under the age of 19 to enter their stores.
  • The regulations provide for the instances in which applicants will be denied a license, including cannabis-related criminal offences. One such area for refusal is any illegal cannabis retailers who were operating after October 17, 2018.
  • There will be a prohibition on the issuance of a license to any individual or organization associated with organized crime.
  • Individuals or entities will be required to demonstrate their tax compliance status to show that they are in good standing with the government.
  • Cannabis retail stores must be stand-alone stores (i.e. they cannot share the same space with any other retailer).
  • Individuals with a Retail Store Authorization, cannabis retail managers, and all retail employees will be required to complete approved training to ensure they are trained in the responsible sale of cannabis.
  • Retail stores will be permitted to be open between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. on any day of the week.
  • Retail Operators will not be permitted to open more than 75 stores per operator.
  • Private cannabis retail stores can only purchase their supply of cannabis from the Ontario Cannabis Store.

The government also announced that Ontario’s Cannabis License Act, 2018 (the “Act”) and its regulations will be in force as of November 16, 2018. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (“AGCO”) is the official regulator of cannabis retail stores in Ontario and plans to accept applications as of December 17, 2018. There are three licenses of which each applicant should be aware:

  • Retail Operator License: This is the first license that must be granted to an applicant in order to open and operate cannabis retail stores in Ontario. Once the ACGO has determined that the applicant meets the eligibility criteria set out in the Act and its regulations and has approved the application, this Retail Operator License will be granted, which allows the individual or entity to operate one or more retail stores. However, the individual or entity must have a separate Retail Store Authorization for every store they wish to operate.
  • Retail Store Authorization: The Retail Store Authorization is the approval required for each specific store location. If an individual or entity has obtained a Retail Operator License, it cannot open a retail store until it has this authorization. The Retail Store Authorization gives residents of the area an opportunity to provide their input to the AGCO regarding whether or not their community should have a cannabis retail store. A Retail Store Authorization may only be refused on the basis of public health and safety, protecting youth and restricting their access to cannabis, and preventing illegal activities in relation to cannabis.
  • Cannabis Retail Manager License: Every retail store location must also have a licensed manager who has met the eligibility criteria set out in the Act and its regulations and who has been granted a Cannabis Retail Manager License. In the case of a sole proprietor that has obtained a Retail Operator License and will be acting as a manager at a particular store location, they will not need to also obtain a Cannabis Retail Manager License.

For more information on these three licenses, please see our previous blog post on this topic from October 30, 2018.

We will breakdown further details of the regulations once they are published in their entirety.

Our Cannabis Law Group has experience in successfully assisting clients in obtaining retail cannabis sales licenses across the country and would be pleased to discuss how we can help you with your Ontario sales license application.