OVERVIEW OF RETAIL CANNABIS LAWS IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO
In October 2018, the Government of Canada enacted the Cannabis Act, which decriminalized the possession and use of cannabis for persons over the age of 19 and legalized the sale and manufacture of cannabis by licensed and authorized retailers. Among other things, the Cannabis Act granted the provinces and territories of Canada the power to regulate the manufacture and sale of cannabis. Since the enactment of the Cannabis Act¸ the province of Ontario has enacted its own legislation regulating the possession, sale, and manufacturing of cannabis, namely, the Cannabis Control Act, the Cannabis Retail Corporation Act, and the Cannabis Licence Act. The purpose behind the decriminalization and retail of cannabis is to prevent youth access to cannabis and to promote public health and safety by providing adults legal access to safe cannabis, thereby reducing the profits of criminals.
OBTAINING A RETAIL OPERATOR LICENCE
The Cannabis Licencing Act enables an individual or entity to acquire a Retail Operator License which permits the license holder or Retail Operator License applicant to apply for Retail Store Authorization. The Cannabis Licencing Act lists certain criteria applicants must meet to be eligible for a Retail Operator Licence. Prior to approving a Retail Operator Licence, the Registrar of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario may impose certain conditions on a Retail Operator Licence. If an applicant for a Retail Operator Licence has been rejected or if their existing Retail Operator License was revoked, the applicant must wait until the second anniversary of their rejection to apply again.
OBTAINING A RETAIL STORE AUTHORIZATION
Once individuals or entities have applied or been approved for the Retail Operator License, they may then begin their application for a Retail Store Authorization. Retail Store Authorization is required to open a retail cannabis store. Prior to making plans to open a retail cannabis store, it is important to review the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s list of which municipalities have opted in or opted out of permitting retail cannabis stores. To apply for Retail Store Authorization, interested individuals can make an application through the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. Below you will find more information on the steps that a Retail Store Authorization applicant must follow after submitting their application:
OBTAINING A RETAIL MANAGER LICENCE
Under the Cannabis Licence Act, every cannabis retail store must have at least one licensed retail manager. Additional Retail Manager Licences may be required for any staff of the retail cannabis store who meet certain criteria. Interested individuals can make an application for a Retail Manager Licence through the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.
HOW WE CAN HELP RETAILERS
At Jahanshahi Law Firm, our business law team has the experience and knowledge to assist and guide your company through the application process for the Retail Operator Licence, Retail Store Authorization, and Retail Manager Licence. In addition to providing legal support throughout the application process, our business law team can assist with finding a proposed site for the retail cannabis store and ensuring legal compliance once the required licenses have been granted. We will also assist with selecting the ideal business vehicle for you if you do not already have a business entity. If you choose a corporation as your business vehicle, we will ensure the directors, officers, and shareholders are in compliance with the applicable laws and regulations. We will draft commercial agreements as necessary and if your business grows, we can assist with franchising your new business.
If you are considering launching a cannabis retail store in Ontario, get in touch with us to arrange your first consultation with a corporate lawyer.