Ontario Cannabis Licence

Ontario is Canada’s most populous province and home to the federal capital of Ottawa.

The majority of Ontario residents live in the southern part of the province near Toronto or the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), along with Ottawa, Niagara Falls, and Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Premier: Doug Ford, CPC
Population: 14.57 million (2019) StatCan
Minimum wage: 14.00 CAD per hour (2018)
Private Retail Stores: Permitted
Cannabis Retail Store Count: 550
Store Regulator: Alcohol Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO)

Provincial Wholesaler: Ontario Cannabis Store (Ontario Cannabis Retail Council, OCS)
Licensing Timelines: 6-8 months
Government Application Fees: $10,000
Farm Gate Licences: Permitted, ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS
Insurance Requirements: $5 million Commercial General Liability with Product Liability


What you need to know about Ontario’s Cannabis Retail Licence

After a slow rollout of retail licenses during the controversial lottery era, Ontario has shifted to a progressive open market for private cannabis retail. In December 2019, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) ended the lottery system and removed the cap on the number of cannabis retail licenses for the province.

The Ontario open market era, began in two phases: i) on January 6, 2020,  applicants could apply for a Retail Operator Licence (ROL), which focuses on the tax, financial, and criminal history of individuals and businesses; ii) on March 2, 2020, applicants could apply for a Retail Store Authorization (RSA), which focuses on the store site, including organizational and physical security plans, and municipality approval.

The AGCO is responsible for issuing cannabis retail store licenses and regulating the activities of licensed operators. Private retailers are only permitted to sell cannabis products and accessories approved by the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS), which operates Ontario’s only legal recreational online cannabis store.

Overview of Ontario’s Licensing Process

Overview of Ontario Cannabis Retail Licence Regulations
Overview of Ontario Cannabis Retail Licence Regulations

Figure 1. Overview of Ontario cannabis retail regulations.


It is a great time for new businesses and investors to break into the Ontario cannabis retail market, and CannDelta is here to help!

How we can help:

CannDelta will assist Retail Clients with every aspect of starting or expanding their business. Services can include site selection and site suitability to post-licensing support such as Budtender/Manager Training with SMARTtending

  • Customized Business Plans for Cannabis Retail
  • Logo Design, Website Launch, and Brand Decks
  • Complete Retail Store Operator Licence (ROL) Application
  • Retail Store Authorization (RSA) Application
  • Retail Store Manager Licence (RML) Application
  • Site suitability, floor plan review and Secure Storage room construction guidance
  • Complete provincially tailored cannabis retail Standard Operating Procedures
  • On-going provincial regulatory support
  • Security systems layout plan and review
  • Recommendations on business best practices, strategy, and marketing
  • Record keeping and inventory control guidance
  • Operational compliance and process flow

COVID-19 Update: CannDelta has updated the Standard Operation Procedures for cannabis retail stores to include detailed procedures outlining proper curbside pick-up and delivery in response the regulatory landscape changes from the AGCO.

Contact us today about our suite of SOPs available for Cannabis Retailers.

Reach out today for a free consultation on how to get started on your licensing application! 

Click on your province below to see the most up-to-date legal requirements for cannabis retail store licenses in your region.

By this point, you’re probably wondering, “How much does opening a dispensary in Ontario cost?” Download our free e-book below for all the answers you’ve been looking for.