When non-medical cannabis became legal on October 17, 2018, provincial and municipal governments were handed the responsibility of regulating cannabis retail stores.  British Columbia has one of the most progressive stances of cannabis, but that does not mean that applying for a retail store is easy.  Applications for cannabis retail store licences are time consuming, costly, and extremely detailed.

The precise requirements for applicants will depend on whether they are applying as a sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, or as an Indigenous Nation.  There is a financial integrity check and a criminal record screening.  These steps are to ensure that the applicants are not connected to organized crime.  Applicants should be prepared to share their past addresses, employment history, corporate associations, financial accounts, and any connections they have with federal producers of cannabis.  Applicants must also prepare floor plans and site plans of the proposed retail store.

A critical step in the process will be getting the approval of the local government or Indigenous nation whose land the store will be on.  Local governments and Indigenous nations can set restrictions for these licences, such as location and hours of operations.  They can even outright ban non-medical cannabis retail stores in their area if they wish.  This process may be a simple application or it could develop into a full community consultation.  For an Indigenous nation that wants to build a store on its own land, this step is rather straightforward.  For everyone else, it will be important to check the relevant bylaws and policies before starting an application.

Finally, the licence application fee is $7,500.00.  This is in addition to the annual retail store licence fee of $1,500.00.  Applicants will also want to consider whether they will need to create a corporation or a partnership, purchase or lease the property, and construct a store that meets the specifications set by the provincial government.

If you have any questions about how to apply for a cannabis retail store licence, please contact Heath Law LLP at 250-753-2202 or toll free: 1-866-753-2202.