July 06, 2018

Dear ABLE BC Members,

Yesterday, BC government released new detailed information regarding eligibility requirements for prospective non-medical cannabis retail license applicants. This follows the federal government’s recent announcement that non-medical cannabis will become legal on October 17, 2018.

Read the full BC government announcement: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018AG0053-001343

Find the Non-Medical Cannabis Retail License homepage: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/employment-business/business/liquor-regulation-licensing/cannabis-regulation

Access the cannabis licensing application portal: https://justice.gov.bc.ca/cannabislicensing/

The application portal contains application guidelines and an interactive tool to help potential applicants understand what they need to do to apply for a private retail cannabis store licence. Applicants will be able to submit their applications through the portal later this summer.

More details on the application process and requirements, and applicant eligibility are provided below.

Register for a free webinar hosted by ABLE BC on the cannabis retail license application process

Planning to apply for a non-medical cannabis retail license when the application portal opens this summer? Click to sign-up here for ABLE BC’s free webinar on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 at 10:00 am PST.

During this one-hour webinar, our Executive Director Jeff Guignard will cover:

  • Non-medical cannabis retail license application process
  • Applicant eligibility requirements
  • How to successfully prepare for your application
  • ABLE BC’s advocacy work: helping local communities and municipalities enact sensible business-friendly policies that encourage investment in the cannabis retail industry

There will be time at the end of the webinar for any questions or concerns you may have about the cannabis retail license application process.

Sign-up here: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1202637414281488898

If you are unable to attend the webinar at 10 am PST, register anyways! Following the live webinar, we will send out a copy of the webinar recording and PowerPoint to everyone who is registered. For more information please contact: Danielle Leroux (Director of Membership & Communications) at 604-688-5560 or danielle@ablebc.ca.

Non-medical cannabis retail license eligibility requirements highlights:

  • Individuals (sole proprietors), partnerships, corporations, and Indigenous nations may all apply for a cannabis retail store license. Applicants must be at least 19 years, but do not have to be a citizen or resident of BC or Canada.
  • Operators of illegal cannabis dispensaries that are currently open may apply for a retail license but won’t receive any preferential treatment in the process. Any store that has an association with organized crime will not receive a license.
  • At this time, federally licensed producers of cannabis are not eligible for a cannabis retail store license.
  • Cannabis retail stores are not prohibited from having tied house connections (e.g. personal, financial, or business connection between cannabis retail store and federally licensed cannabis producer). However, a license will not be issued if the retailer arranged with a producer to sell the producer’s cannabis in preference to another producer’s cannabis.
  • The Province is not placing a cap on the number of non-medical cannabis stores that can operate in BC. However, a licensee can only hold or have an interest in a maximum of 8 cannabis retail store licenses. This limit will be reviewed on January 1, 2021.
  • Applicants must own, lease, or have an agreement to lease the proposed retail store location before applying.
  • Applicants are not required to commit to purchasing or leasing a property when submitting an application; however, they must do so after receiving conditional approval of their application by government.
  • Find more details on location requirements here: https://justice.gov.bc.ca/cannabislicensing/policy-document/location-requirements
  • All applicants will have to undergo financial confirmation and criminal and police record checks, which includes screening the associates of people applying.

Find the full license eligibility requirements here.

Can I operate a non-medical cannabis retail store inside my liquor store or pub?

No, the cannabis retail store must be a self-contained business. Licensees must not operate a cannabis retail store as part of another business, such as a pharmacy, restaurant, or liquor store.

However, the Province may approve a cannabis retail store to have a shared common area outside of the store or to share a vestibule (such as a foyer) with another business.

We are very pleased to see that government accepted our recommendation to use this option instead of requiring a separate business entrance for each business.The full details on shared common areas and vestibules can be found here under Location Requirements.

Role of Municipal and Indigenous Governments

  • Municipal and indigenous governments in BC will have the power to deny applications for private retailers that want to sell non-medical cannabis in their communities.
  • If local government decides to comment or make recommendations about a store, it must also gather views from residents in the area of the proposed cannabis retail outlet.
  • Municipalities will have the power to impose restrictions in zoning bylaws on the location of the stores and limit their hours of operation. Similar powers are also being given to First Nations.
  • The Liquor Control and Licensing Branch has also been renamed the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch.

Application Process

By early August 2018, the online application portal for non-medical cannabis retail licenses will be opened by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch.

For the full list of eligibility requirements and a step-by-step guide to applying for a non-medical cannabis retail store license and selling cannabis products please visit: https://justice.gov.bc.ca/cannabislicensing/

We strongly recommend that interested applicants visit the website now to carefully review all available materials and be prepared when the application portal opens.

Important Links and Helpful Documents

Plus sign-up for our new free webinar: “How to prepare your non-medical cannabis retail license application” on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 at 10:00 am: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1202637414281488898

We will continue to keep members updated as more details about cannabis regulations and licensing become available.

For more information: please contact ABLE BC at 604-688-5560 or info@ablebc.ca.

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