Professional Help for the Ontario Cannabis Retail Sales License Application

ontario cannabis retail sales license application

By Danielle Boyer for Ticketsave.ca

UPDATE NOVEMBER 19TH 2018

Information Update on the Application Process for a Private Cannabis Retail Store License in Ontario

A private cannabis retail store license in Ontario is now called the AGCO RETAIL OPERATOR LICENSE for Cannabis Sales in Ontario. On Monday, December 17, 2018 the AGCO will start accepting on-line applications for cannabis-related Retail Operator Licences. All applications will have to be made on-line. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (“AGCO”) is the province’s regulator for alcohol, gaming and horse-racing and as expected the AGCO will also licence and regulate Ontario’s private cannabis retail stores and their operators. All owners and operators of cannabis retail stores will be subject to the provincial Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, its regulations, and the AGCO’s Registrar Standards.

 

Private Cannabis Retail Stores and the Retail Operator Licence

Retail Operator Licence applications are not being accepted at this time and the on-line application forms are not yet available on the AGCO portal. The portal is intended as a source of information for applicants and holders of a Retail Operator Licence and Retail Store Authorization. The AGCO portal will be updated in the days leading up to Monday, December 17th as “new information becomes available”. This should include a full description of the application process and associated fees for each type of licence and authorization. For the time being, the information that is posted on the portal currently will help you gain a greater understanding your obligations as a Cannabis Retail Operator in Ontario. You can receive AGCO updates through their website.

 

CONTACT HEAD PARALEGAL SEAN O’CONNOR FOR A FREE PHONE CONSULTATION

Click To Call: 416.835.7411

 

RETAIL OPERATOR LICENCE

A Retail Operator Licence is now required in Ontario to legally open a retail store to sell recreational cannabis. For your application to be accepted you must meet the eligibility criteria as described in the Cannabis Licence Act. You can operate more than one retail store with a Retail Operator Licence however you must have a separate and individual Retail Store Authorization for each retail store you wish to operate.

 

Good news for Small Business Cannabis Retail Operators

Any retailer of recreational cannabis can have a maximum of seventy-five stores in Ontario unless that retailer is more than 9.9% owned by one or more producers, in which case they are limited to only one store. The purpose of this is to limit the concentration of ownership of the cannabis retail sector. This is good news for the small cannabis retail operator and business owner.

 

RETAIL STORE AUTHORIZATION

 A Retail Store Authorization is required for each one of your stores according to the Cannabis Licence Act.  Regulations under the Cannabis Licence Act (CLA) stipulate that each proposed

store must meet requirements that relate to store layout and its location. For instance, each store must be at least 150 metres away from a school (including First Nations schools on and off the Reserve. Each store must be a stand-alone store enclosed by walls. In other words no store can be set up within a store and no one under 19 years of age can be admitted into the store.

 In order to be licensed, authorized store retailers will be required by law to purchase their retail cannabis directly from the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) only. The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) will be the exclusive wholesaler and distributor to private licenced retail stores.

Licences won’t be issued to any person or organization that has cannabis-related criminal offenses, an association with organized crime and/or any illegal cannabis retailers including medical dispensaries that were operating as of Oct. 17th. At this point they are considered ineligible.

Also, licence applicants must demonstrate their tax compliance status, to show they are in good- standing with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Ontario personal and business sales tax.

 

CANNABIS RETAIL MANAGER LICENCE

Each authorized store location must have at least one licensed manager to ensure the responsible sale of cannabis. The eligibility criteria for the person who will have management responsibilities in authorized stores setout in the Cannabis Licence Act and its regulations. 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”.

Cannabis retail managers and all retail employees including the licenced Retail Operators has to ensure that any individual who works in the cannabis retail market is trained in the responsible sale of cannabis and therefor will be required to complete the approved AGCO training.

You do not need to get a Cannabis Retail Manager Licence for your store if you are a sole proprietor and will be both the licensed operator with a Retail Operator Licence, while conducting the duties of the Cannabis Retail Manager for a particular store.

 

RESIDENTS

Before a retail store and a Retail Operator Licence are authorized, residents in the municipality of a proposed store location have a right to present their views to the AGCO.

The areas of interest the AGCO Registrar will consider according to the Cannabis Licence Act are related to the public health and safety of youth by restricting their access and influence to cannabis, and preventing illegal cannabis activities.

Each store proposed must give residents of the municipalities the opportunity to provide their input.

The public notice process that is related to the Retail Store Authorization of retail stores allows the one-time option municipalities have to prohibit cannabis stores from operating in their jurisdiction.  Anytime until January 22, 2019 Ontario municipalities can pass a council resolution to decline from having cannabis retail stores in their municipality. Councils that “opt-out” are eligible for a one-time “opt-back-in” that would be final and non-reversible.

 

Professional Paralegal Help for the Ontario Private Retail Cannabis Sales Application

The AGCO’s Cannabis Retail Store Owners/operators portal is under development. Information for applicants of a Retail Operator Licence and/or a Retail Store Authorization will be updated as new information becomes available in the days leading up to December 17th  2018 when the AGCO officially begins to accept applications.

Those who are looking to apply for a Cannabis RETAIL OPERATOR LICENCE, RETAIL STORE AUTHORIZATION, and CANNABIS RETAIL MANAGER LICENCE on-line might consider seeking advise from a licensing expert in order to avoid unnecessary delays or rejection of your application due to technical errors or deficiencies. For example, how will changes due to the municipal option to opt- out or to opt-back-in by January 22nd 2019 affect your Operator Licence application or your retail lease?

 

You can get the support you need to move forward with expert knowledge and experience. Contact paralegal and CEO Sean O’Connor at TEL: 416-835-7411 for a free consultation.

 

Need more info regarding the Ontario Cannabis Retail Sales License Application?

Contact us for a free consultation


 

UPDATE OCTOMBER 16TH 2018

Update on Professional Help for Ontario Cannabis Retail Sales License Applications

Just one more day until recreational use of cannabis is legal and made available to the public through the government of Ontario’s Online website. However, if you are looking to apply for an Ontario Cannabis Sales License you will have to be strategic. As of Monday October 15th, according to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario website (ola.org) the current status for Bill 36 is “under consideration by the standing committee on social policy” (link).

https://www.ola.org/en/legislative-business/bills/parliament-42/session-1/bill-36/status

 

What does this Mean?

On September 27, three weeks before recreational cannabis was legalized across the country, the Ford government announced the Cannabis Statute Amendment Act, 2018, (Bill 36). Bill 36 provides a framework for the licensing of privately owned recreational cannabis retail stores in Ontario via the Cannabis License Act, 2018 (License Act). 

The “License Act” is the first published draft of Ontario’s new recreational cannabis legislation that supports the licensing of Ontario’s new privately owned retail outlets.

Bill 36 proposes to amend the past Wynne government’s Cannabis Act, 2017 and the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation Act, 2017 (“OCRC Act”). The draft legislation confirms the province of Ontario government’s intention to have Ontario’s private retail businesses deliver recreational cannabis sales alongside the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation’s (OCRC) Online sales and distribution. The government on-line sales and distribution through the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC) is set to begin on October 17th 2018.

 

Regulating the Private Cannabis Retail Stores

The Ford government has confirmed that the AGCO will also license and regulate Ontario’s  private cannabis retail stores and their operators. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (“AGCO”) is the province’s alcohol, gaming and horse-racing regulator. From October 17th to April 2019, recreational cannabis will be legally available to Ontarians only through online purchases from the Ontario Cannabis Store. Once licensed, authorized store retailers will be required by law to purchase their retail cannabis directly from the same place, the Ontario Cannabis Store only. When Bill 36 becomes law, the AGCO will provide the specifics on the application and licensing process for private cannabis retailers so that they can start business by April 1, 2019.

 

License Categories 

Cannabis retail store licensing will have similarities to liquor licensing in Ontario. However, the new cannabis licensing rules and procedures separates the licensing of retail operators (and their managers) from the authorized license approval of a particular retail store location.

Bill 36 does not currently stipulate a limit on the number of locations that can receive a Retail Store authorization in the province. However, pending regulations yet to be announced might provide municipalities a way to ensure that an over-concentration of cannabis retail stores will not occur in their municipality.

The legislation also proposes that the Ontario Cannabis Store will require that businesses obtain a Retail Operating License and a separate Retail Store Location License.

Ultimately it will be the AGCO that will issue the following:

 

  1. Single or Multiple Retail Operator Licenses to individuals and corporations
  2. Cannabis Retail Manager Licenses to store managers

and a separate

  1. Retail Store Location License authorization for each approved retail location.

 

Municipalities have the option to opt out of having AGCO cannabis retail store sales in their municipality. Anytime until January 22, 2019 Ontario municipalities can pass a council resolution to decline from having cannabis retail stores in their municipality. Those Councils that do so are allowed to change their mind at a later date in order to permit retail cannabis stores in their municipality, however, that reversal would be final.

 

Application approval for a Cannabis Retail Store License

Municipalities will not be permitted to create their own parallel cannabis business rules, and licensing procedures.   However, there will be municipality requirements for prospective cannabis license applicants. These will include school and residential zoning regulations and fire safety compliance.

 

Identifying All Considerations and Eligibility Requirements through a Knowledgeable and Experienced Paralegal Advisor

The Ford P.C. government will allow private retailers to sell cannabis under a minimum pricing structure. The License Act and OCRC Act give the Ontario government the ability to set a minimum price for cannabis sold in authorized retail locations and online by the OCRC.

 

Professional Help for the Ontario Private Retail Cannabis Sales Application 

If you are looking to apply for an Ontario Cannabis Sales License for a retail store remember that the legislation may undergo changes such as the municipal option to opt out or new zoning requirements prior to legislative approval. Consider seeking advise from a licensing expert in order to avoid unnecessary delays or rejection of your application due to technical errors or deficiencies. Get the support you need to get ahead of the game with expert knowledge and experience. Contact paralegal and CEO Sean O’Connor at TEL: 416-835-7411 for a free consultation.

 

UPDATE AUGUST 6TH 2018

As of todays date August 6th, if you are looking to apply for an Ontario Cannabis Retail Sales License you will have to be strategic.  When it is announced you want to have your application completed by an expert, so that you can hit the road running, and avoid unnecessary delays or rejection of your application due to technical errors or deficiencies. Assuming that the Ford P.C. government allows private retailers to sell cannabis, a whole new licensing regime has got to be set up to give the ability to sell cannabis like we sell alcohol and or tobacco. However, Ford’s announcement to give private retailers licenses to sell cannabis was made in the months before his government was formed and took office. Before the election Ford was strongly in favour of private cannabis retail sales.  On June 29th,  Ford and the Progressive Conservative party took office, and herein to date when asked about access to cannabis private retail licenses, Ford replies with the statement that “this is a new road that we’ve never gone down and we have to protect the children”.

Only 10 weeks are left before the start of legal sales of recreational cannabis and still the main questions remain to be answered.  How will the sales of recreational cannabis be instituted and when can I make my license application? There will certainly be a lot of competition for a limited number of licenses. A professional expert in liquor license applications through years of experience in dealing with the AGCO will give you a head start in the race to get a cannabis license application approved. Sean O’Connor  is a qualified paralegal with 15 years experience in successful applications to the AGOC. He can be contacted at TEL: 416-835-7411

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, the AGCO, currently administers alcohol and lottery & gaming (including horse racing) to private individuals through licenses. The LCBO stores are administered by the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario), which is a crown corporation that retails and distributes alcoholic beverages. It is accountable to the Ministry of Finance. The Ministry of Finance administers and regulates the licensing of tobacco retailers. Recently, questions to the Ontario Cannabis Store’s retail arm (the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corp) and the LCBO were referred to the Ministry of Finance to whom they are fully accountable.

Putting tobacco and the Ministry of Finance aside, the prevailing school of thought is that it will be the AGCO that will administer the licensing of private cannabis retailers. This will be the case if it is done in a hybrid for example like BC or the Yukon with its transitional model from public to private distribution or solely a private model like in Alberta. One way or the other, the ways by which a private retailer can successfully make application for a retail cannabis license is by being proactive and first out the gate. Contact Sean O’Connor at TEL: 416-835-7411 to arrange your cannabis retail license application consultation.

What Are Other Provinces in Canada Doing?

  • BRITISH COLUMBIA is going to have a Hybrid model whereby they will have both private and government sales of recreational cannabis
  • ALBERTA, SAKATCHEWAN, MANITOBA will have solely private retail sales of recreational cannabis
  • ONTARIO is currently going to have government sales of recreational cannabis but private retail sales of cannabis is under discussion
  • QUEBEC, NEW BRUNSWICK, NOVA SCOTIA & PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND are going to have government sales of recreational cannabis only
  • NEWFOUNDLAND will have privately licensed only sales of recreational cannabis
  • THE YUKON will initially have government sales only but will transition into private retail sales licenses sometime after
  • NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, NUNUVUT will have government sales of recreational cannabis

 

BREAKING NEWS, August 13th 2018

Doug Ford’s Ontario government announced that no LCBO government-run Ontario Cannabis Stores (OCS) will exist on October 17th. This will ensure no government monopoly in recreational cannabis.  Instead, private retail bricks and mortar stores will be licensed to sell cannabis under tightly regulated rules that will be legislated into law next year and put into action on April 1st  2019.

From October 17th 2018 to then, recreational cannabis will be sold through the government–run (OCS) Ontario Cannabis Store Website. This will allow government the time to transition into private retail sales with the benefit of consultations with the municipalities and law-enforcement, so as to ensure effective regulations of safe and reliable private sector businesses that will steer sales away from the illegal market.

In the meantime, beginning October 17th the (OCS) Ontario Cannabis Stores Website will be the sole Ontario consumer outlet for safe, cost competitive and legal recreational cannabis. Eventually its role will expand and private retail outlets will emerge next year to break that monopoly. The Ontario Cannabis store will become a wholesaler to the private sector retailers selling government approved recreational Cannabis. To help consumers identify the legitimate licensed retailers in the province, the Government has created the Ontario Cannabis Seal, which is a navy blue shield with the words Ontario Licensed above a white trillium logo.

Ontario Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli said  “ This pause in implementation is important” and although this model is like that of the Yukon, Fedeli said “ the extra time would also give the province time to learn from other provinces that have embraced a private model, like Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.’

Although April 1st 2019 seems a long-time away now, in actuality it isn’t. There is roughly seven months to complete the government consultations with municipalities and law-enforcement, create the entirely new legislated licensing regime and then complete the vetting and issuing of the retail license applications. Get the support you need to get ahead of the game with expert knowledge and experience. Contact Sean O’Connor at TEL: 416-835-7411 for a free consultaion.

Need more info regarding the Ontario Cannabis Retail Sales License Application?

Contact us for a free consultation


References

 

  1. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-marijuana-cannabis-sales-doug-ford-1.4713848

 

  1. https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/the-yukon-model-how-doug-ford-can-bring-the-free-market-to-cannabis-retail-1.1107678

 

  1. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/privatized-marijuana-city-questions-1.4771630

 

  1. http://www.marijuanalaws.ca/canada-retail-on-sales.html

 

  1. https://www-cbc-ca.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/www.cbc.ca/amp/1.4763921?amp_js_v=0.1&usqp=mq331AQGCAEoATgA#origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.ca&prerenderSize=1&visibilityState=prerender&paddingTop=54&p2r=0&horizontalScrolling=0&csi=1&aoh=15333182313616&viewerUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.ca%2Famp%2Fs%2Fwww.cbc.ca%2Famp%2F1.4763921&history=1&storage=1&cid=1&cap=swipe%2CnavigateTo%2Ccid%2Cfragment%2CreplaceUrl

 

  1. https://www.thestar.com/news/cannabis/2018/07/27/late-switch-to-private-sector-pot-sales-could-be-a-scramble-experts-say.html

 

  1. https://agco.ca/sites/default/files/17_18-19_20_business_plan_mar_2017_en.pdf

 

  1. https://indicaonline.com/blog/ontario-shifting-to-private-cannabis-retailers-for-adult-use/

 

  1. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/how-effective-vancouver-s-licensing-bylaws-1.4632030

 

  1. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/from-marijuana-beer-to-pot-cookies-canadian-companies-creating-cannabis-edibles-1.4710308
  2. https://agco.ca/cannabis/cannabis-retail-store-ownersoperators 
  3. https://agco.ca/content/cannabis-retail-regulation-guide 
  4. https://agco.ca/cannabis/private-retail-licensing-and-regulation 
  5. https://news.ontario.ca/mag/en/2018/09/ontario-to-introduce-legislation-to-move-forward-with-tightly-regulated-private-cannabis-retail-mark.html 
  6. https://news.ontario.ca/mag/en/2018/11/ontario-establishes-strict-regulations-for-the-licensing-and-operation-of-private-cannabis-stores.html 
  7. https://theprovince.com/pmn/news-pmn/canada-news-pmn/ontario-pot-rules-restrict-retail-ownership-of-licensed-producers/wcm/9232d3e4-93da-4945-9094-58714ccfdefb 
  8. https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/r18468 
  9. Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, S.O. 2018, c. 12, Sched. 2 
  10. https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/ontario-releases-cannabis-regulations-for-retail-stores-set-to-open-april-1-1.1168407 
  11. https://www.agco.ca/sites/default/files/cannabis_landscape_0.pdf 
  12. https://www.agco.ca/cannabis-retail-regulation-facts