Traffic Ticket Lawyer? Save with our expert paralegals.

Cannabis Licensing

Professional Help for the Ontario Cannabis Retail Sales License Application

By Danielle Boyer for


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.


Click To Call: 416.835.7411


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.


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.


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.


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.