Update on the Ontario Cannabis Retail Application Process from the AGCO

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Today, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (“AGCO”) hosted Part 1 of its Cannabis Retail Store Webinar series. The Cannabis Law Group at Torkin Manes LLP attended the webinar, which focused on cannabis retail regulation and licence applications in Ontario. While the majority of topics covered in the webinar have already been addressed in the Cannabis License Act, 2018 (the “Act”) and the Regulations promulgated thereunder, the webinar nonetheless revealed some new and useful information.

Applications for Retail Store Authorizations, Retail Operator Licences and/or Cannabis Retail Manager Licences may only be submitted online through the iAGCO portal: https://www.iagco.agco.ca/prod/pub/en/login.aspx. Once an account has been made, the portal can be used to apply for, manage and view the status of cannabis-related licences and authorizations, including applications, renewals and modifications.

The AGCO also revealed the application and renewal fees:

Application Fee Renewal Fee
2-year term 2-year term 4-year term
Retail Operator Licence $6,000 $2,000 $4,000
Retail Store Authorization $4,000 $3,500 $7,000
Cannabis Retail Manager Licence $750 $500 $1,000

A number of documents may be required by the AGCO before a Retail Operator Licence can be issued, including constituting documents, a schematic diagram, details of shareholders, financial statements, a tax return and a tax assessment and the personal history of key individuals within the operation. As is set out in the Act and Regulations, evidence of tax compliance will also be required. An applicant will be required to provide the AGCO with its Tax Compliance Verification number, as evidence of such compliance. The AGCO has advised that the foregoing information and documentation is not required to be submitted at the time of submitting an application, but that processing times may be impacted if information remains outstanding.  Accordingly, it is best to prepare this information and documentation now and submit it with your application, if possible, otherwise shortly thereafter.

The AGCO advised that any person who works in a cannabis retail store must successfully complete an AGCO Board approved cannabis retail employee training program, which is expected to be in place by February 2019. The program must be completed before the first day of work at any cannabis retail store location.

The AGCO advised that within the next few days, it will publish a Cannabis Retail Regulations Guide online at https://www.agco.ca/. It is intended that this will be a comprehensive guide and will include relevant information about cannabis regulation and the application process. Since the process is still in development, new chapters will be published as information becomes available. To be notified when new chapters have been added, you can subscribe to email alerts from the AGCO by clicking here.

The AGCO also informed us that it will post on its website a list of municipalities that opt-out of cannabis retail sales and those that are deemed to opt-in. By way of reminder, municipalities have until January 22, 2018 to opt-out.

Part 2 of the AGCO’s webinar series will take place on December 6, 2018, at which point the AGCO will provide us with further guidance on its standards and policies in respect of the responsible use of cannabis, advertising and promotions, record keeping and more. Such standards and policies will be available ahead of December 17, 2018, which we understand is the date upon which applicants can start submitting applications online through the AGCO portal.

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