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How to Get a Retail Operator License in Ontario

August 4, 2022

Cannabis, otherwise known as marijuana, is a plant used in both recreational and medical settings. In Ontario, you must have a marijuana license from the state government to sell or use it for any reason.

If you’re thinking of opening a dispensary, we’d like to walk you through the provincial rules and regulations so you can do so in a legally responsible fashion.

Here’s everything you need to know about getting a retail operator license in Ontario.

What are the current marijuana laws in Ontario?

Before you open up a marijuana dispensary, you must know the laws guiding its use. The general rule states that you must be at least 18 years of age to be able to use or handle marijuana.

Marijuana laws in Ontario state you can take marijuana to the following places:

  • You can have cannabis in specifically allocated places in hotels and motels.
  • You are free to enjoy cannabis in public places but not close to hospitals, schools, or care centers
  • You can use marijuana on private property.
  • You may have cannabis in some research facilities.

Some places you cannot be found smoking in Ontario include:

  • Schools
  • Hospitals and care facilities
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Recreational facilities
  • Crowded areas

Licenses for opening a marijuana dispensary

To open a dispensary, you must submit an application to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. You’ll have to submit three licenses, including the retail operator license in Ontario.

  1. Retail operator license: This license applies to people or entities operating a cannabis retail store. The fee is $6,000 for a two-year term with a $2,000 renewal fee or $4,000 for a four-year term.
  2. Retail store authorization: This authorizes you to operate a physical storefront, and you’ll need to apply for a new one for each location you plan to operate. The fee is $4,000 for a two-year term with a $3,500 renewal fee or $7,000 for a four-year term.
  3. Retail manager license: This license applies to anyone with management responsibilities that relate to the sale of cannabis. These include supervising and managing employees, overseeing the sale of cannabis, and managing compliance issues. The fee is $750 for a two-year term, with a $500 renewal fee or $1,000 for a four-year term.

How to get a retail operator license in Ontario

You can submit your Retail Operator License application through the Alcohol and Gaming Commission website. To begin, you will need to create an account and have the following information ready:

  • Applicant Type (Sole Proprietor, Limited Partnership, Partnership, Corporation, Trust)
  • Legal Name
  • Legal Structure (Privately Held, Publicly Held, Trust, Not-for-Profit)

You will be required to answer several entity and individual disclosure questions and read and sign a Declaration. Once you have created your account, you can view the questions and save your application in draft form until you are ready to submit it.

In addition, you will need to provide supporting information by uploading the required documents.

Your license will also not be issued without the required documentation:

  1. Tax Compliance Verification Confirmation Code: Applicants must provide their Tax Compliance Verification confirmation code.
  2. Personal History: A Personal History form is required for all employment and/or unemployment for applicants who are sole proprietors or individuals who are required to provide disclosure information.
  3. Third-Party Agreement: Applicants must provide all applicable third-party agreements.

Get advice from experts in cannabis law in Ontario

The various stages of opening a cannabis dispensary in Ontario require navigating numerous laws and regulations. The Atlas Law Group can help you stay legally compliant at each phase of opening yours, with guidance and counsel from an expert legal team. Contact us today.