Vassos Law LLP

Cannabis Retail Store Applications

Applying for a Cannabis Retail Store Licence


Ontario’s new Conservative government is looking to steer the Cannabis Retail industry towards the Model provided by our neighbours in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Business owners, activists, and entrepreneurs alike are right to be excited about the possibility for private retail sales in a free market. There is money to be made, and everyone wants a license. But the Provincial Government will be very diligent in the restrictions that they put on Applicants.

So, what can you expect if you’re thinking of applying?

Start by imagining a Lottery and Gaming Licence. Take all of the particular nuances and regulatory objectives that have been thrown into an application, and the ways that Operators are restricted in order to ensure that the public interest is protected.

Next, do the same, but with a Liquor Licence Application.  Consider all of the safeguards put into place to ensure that the service of alcohol is restricted and controlled.

Third, add to the mix approximately one hundred years of public discourse and distrust towards Cannabis, Cannabis users, and the drug industry at large. 

Now you have an idea what a Retail Cannabis Store Application might look like.

Potential Applicants must understand that they are going to be put under a microscope. They will likely need to provide personal, financial, criminal, and/or employment records – as well as the records of their spouses, businesses, and business partners.

In every Province, the Regulators in charge of Liquor Licensing are also responsible for the Licencing of Retail Stores and wholesales.  In Ontario, that means the AGCO and the LCBO.

Vassos Law LLP has been in direct contact with these Regulators throughout the past several months. Our interactions with these Regulators have not been limited to Ontario, but have necessarily included the AGLC in Alberta. Through these continued interactions, we know that the primary concern of all Regulators is to ensure that the focus remains on public safety. They will only Licence those operators who they believe will act responsibly, diligently, and proactively.

The simple act of submitting an application will not be enough. Literally every other Applicant will have met this simple standard, just by virtue of filing the necessary paperwork.

Those Applicants who stand the best chance of success need to have plans and strategies in place to give Regulators everything that they are looking for. They will need to prove that their Operation will align with the interests of public safety; they will have to demonstrate that they are being proactive in their Training Policies; and they will need to outshine the vast majority of other Applicants. Only those that go above and beyond will be rewarded with a Licence – and you will need to show the Regulators that you have thought and planned for everything if you want to go above and beyond.

For thirty years, Vassos Law LLP has worked not only with our Clients - to ensure that they establish the kinds of policies and practices that Regulators are looking for – but also with the Regulators themselves, to ensure that we are at the forefront of this constantly evolving Regulatory system. We know what the Public Interest is, because we’re the Law Firm that has helped to shape it for three decades.

We encourage all business owners who are considering applying for a Retail Cannabis Store Application to come to us so that we might help make your application stand out. Our dedicated team look forward to guiding you through this process and helping you prepare the documentation that will help to distinguish you from your competition.