AGCO Releases Initial Registrar’s Standards for Retail Cannabis Stores in Ontario

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The AGCO has released new information about the standards for the private retail sale of cannabis in Ontario. Under the authority of the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and Regulation 468/18, the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores will set out Standards related to store premises, equipment and facilities, including surveillance and security; the prevention of unlawful activities; advertising and promotional activities; training related to the responsible use and sale of cannabis; the protection of assets; record-keeping and measures to maintain confidentiality and security of records; and compliance with the federal cannabis tracking system.

Standards must be met by Licensed Retail Operators and, unless stated otherwise, by Licensed Managers. The Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores will be updated regularly in order to keep up with the growing cannabis retail sector.

Below is a summary of the standards that have been established and released by the AGCO to date:

General Standards

Licensees must ensure that all employees comply with the law and demonstrate honesty and integrity. At a minimum, licensees must obtain criminal background checks from potential employees and ensure that all employees understand their obligations and have completed the required training. A retail store’s operating name must match the name set out on the retail store authorization. Licensed Retail Operators must oversee retail operations and submit changes to the Registrar within a reasonable time. As well, Licensed Retail Managers must manage no more than one store, at which they must keep their Retail Manager Licence.

Physical Store Requirements

All cannabis must be stored securely at all times, and all points of access to the premises must be protected against unauthorized access. At all times, stores must have a functioning and secure high resolution surveillance system, including, at a minimum, cameras that capture 24 hour coverage inside and outside of the premises and video recordings that are kept for at least 30 days. Any sensory display containers must be purchased by the Licensed Retail Operator from the retail store’s inventory and must be locked and tamper-proof. Licensees must also ensure that cannabis and related accessories cannot be seen from the exterior.

Destruction of Cannabis

Cannabis that is ineligible to be sold or returned to the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation must be destroyed at least once per month. The destruction process must be captured on the surveillance system and overseen by a Licensed Manager or Licensed Retail Operator, and it must not expose anyone to cannabis smoke or vapour.

Secure Transportation

A Licensed Retail Operator can transfer cannabis between its retail stores, as long as the process is secure and records are kept of all inter-store movement. In the event of a cannabis product recall, Licensees must securely return the products to the Licensed Producer and keep records.

Minors and Prohibited Individuals

Licensees must take reasonable measures to ensure customers are not purchasing cannabis or cannabis-related accessories on behalf of minors.

Advertising and Promotions

Signage on the store exterior must clearly identify the business. Signs cannot use any language or image that is misleading or deceptive, appeals to young persons, contains endorsements, depicts a person, character or animal, communicates information about price or distribution, or associates cannabis with emotions or a way of life, such as glamour or recreation, or with medicine or driving. Licensees can promote cannabis and related accessories within the store as long as promotion is limited to factual information and focuses on brand characteristics. Licensees cannot provide or accept inducements in the form of free or discounted products.

Responsible Use

Licensees must make information related to the responsible use of cannabis available to customers, including, at a minimum, the Health Canada Consumer Information – Cannabis document and any other information prescribed by the Registrar.

Record Keeping Requirements

Licensees must keep employee records, records for cannabis in an authorized store, records required to enable the Licensee to participate in any national cannabis tracking system, records related to product recall, records demonstrating compliance with the Cannabis Control Act, 2017 and records of cannabis used for display purposes. Records must be kept for a minimum of three years and made available to the AGCO upon request. Licensees must also complete physical inventory counts of all cannabis on a weekly basis, or upon the request of the AGCO, and must use reasonable safeguards around data security. Point of Sales systems must also be certified by a recognized industry certification body and be able to monitor system access and changes.

Keep checking back here for additional information about retail store requirements as they are released.

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