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How to Open a Cannabis Dispensary in Surrey B.C. | Only 12 Licenses

12 Dispensaries Coming to Surrey

In the fifth year since the legalization of recreational cannabis in British Columbia, Surrey, the province’s second most populated city, has announced that it will be awarding 12 retail dispensary licenses.

The Image of a cannabis store on the page about starting a dispensary in BC

Why This is a Great Opportunity for Surrey Residents

Statistics from 2023 show that B.C. has the third highest number of retail cannabis dispensaries in Canada with only 494 dispensaries currently open. This number is significantly lower than Ontario and Alberta, showing that there is a lot of untapped potential in B.C.. Surrey is taking a step in the right direction by allowing recreational dispensaries to open. Even though the city is only allowing 12 to open for the time being, this could be a great opportunity for smaller, Surrey-based businesses to open. 

Anita Huberman, the Surrey Board of Trade’s CEO and president said that the board has “an interest in the development and success of our local business community,” suggesting that the final application framework will have advantages for Surrey-based small businesses. In other words, if you’re a Surrey resident interested in opening a retail dispensary, it’s time to start preparing your application!

The Infographic of Cannabis statistics in Canada on the page about Retail Cannabis in Surrey

Applying for a Dispensary License in Surrey

Surrey is divided into six town centers that will each be allowed to have two different cannabis dispensaries. The city has launched an application screening and evaluation process with a goal to begin accepting license applications in the next few months. As of now, the city of Surrey has not released any specific zoning requirements or mapping tools that determine where the dispensaries can be located within each of the six regions.

With only 12 licenses available, competition for applications will be intense. Applicants must ensure their submissions are flawless to stand a chance at securing a license.

The process of applying for a cannabis retailer license in Surrey won’t be any different than applying for a cannabis retail license in a different B.C. municipality. Before you begin your application, make sure you fit these eligibility requirements:

  1. You are 19 years-of-age or older.

  2. You have a standalone business structured as a sole proprietorship, private corporation, partnership, public corporation, society or non-profit corporation, Indigenous Nation, or extra-provincial company registered in B.C..

  3. You cannot open a dispensary if you are a federal cannabis producer.

  4. You do not need to be a B.C. resident or Canadian citizen to open a British Columbia dispensary.


Before you start on your application, be sure you have enough capital to start your business. You’ll want to consider the cost of finding and securing property, purchasing products, employing staff, marketing efforts, site-build out, consulting fees, as well as application and licensing fees.
British Columbia dispensary licenses have a non-refundable application fee of $7,500, a first year licensing fee of $1,500, and an annual renewal fee of $1,500. 

The banner of Cannabis Industry in British Columbia on the page about British Columbia dispensary

Locations used for a retail dispensary in Surrey must meet setback distance requirements. Dispensaries must be 200 meters away from:

  • Public or Provincially-funded Independent Schools.
  • City of Surrey Community Centres & Rec Centres.
  • Existing Cannabis Retail or Production locations within Surrey.

Application Requirements

  1. Development permit.

  2. Business license.
     
  3. Physical Location. A brick-and-mortar storefront, or an agreement to purchase, lease, or sublease property that complies with municipal and zoning requirements set by the city of Surrey.

If your application is selected for licensure, you must purchase or secure a lease agreement for the property proposed in your application. Leases or property arrangements must be valid for at least 12 months from the time that the cannabis retail license is awarded. Anyone that plans on opening one of Surrey’s 12 recreational dispensaries will need to secure a compliant location and gather these details very quickly, since there will be a lot of competition. Keep an eye out for official location zoning and municipal requirements!

Next you’ll want to fill out the Business Financial Integrity form which can be found on the Government of British Columbia website. This form will require details like names of shares and shareholders, financial information, tax information, as well as funding and debt information.

The applicant will also need a floor plan, site plan, photos of the store’s exterior and other details about the physical location of the dispensary. After your application is accepted, all proposed changes will need to be made to your store before an inspection from the Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB), which will determine whether you can begin operations.

And there you have it! Those are the steps you’ll need to take to construct and file your Surrey retail cannabis dispensary application. Your application and all required documents need to be submitted to the LCRB online. Keep in mind that your business structure will play a part in your application requirements. For example, a sole proprietorship business will have different application requirements than a public corporation, but you can find checklists on the Government of B.C. website to be sure you’re submitting all of the required documents.

Working With Cannabis Consultants

CannDelta’s cannabis consultants can help you secure a retail dispensary license in Surrey. We can assist with cannabis retail license applications, develop tailored Standard Operating Procedures, provide ongoing regulatory support and much more. Canndelta prepares clients for LCRB store inspections, maximizing the likelihood of a successful review. Our full spectrum of services make us a crucial partner for any Surrey resident looking to navigate the complexities of opening a cannabis retail store. Get in touch by filling a form below!

Frequently Asked Questions

Opening a British Columbia dispensary can cost anywhere from $250,000 to over $2 million. These costs vary depending on factors like location, build-out, staffing, consulting fees, application and licensing fees, and more. The application fee for a B.C. dispensary is $7,500, with a first year licensing fee of $1,500 and an annual renewal fee of $1,500.

After starting a dispensary, owners typically make between $250,000 and $500,000, but this number can fluctuate depending on a variety of factors including your dispensaries success, staffing, the market, and more. The average dispensary generates around $2 million dollars a year in revenue.

To open a dispensary in Surrey you will need a cannabis retail license, a compliant location, and everything else needed to begin operating a dispensary. The first step to starting a dispensary in Surrey will be submitting a valid and complete application as soon as the application window opens.

Retail dispensaries can sell cannabis online for delivery to customers for recreational use. Only licensed retail dispensaries can deliver cannabis, and all deliveries must be made to consumers age 19 or older.

The dispensary laws will likely be slightly different in Surrey than in Vancouver. The rules that dispensaries must follow after being established will likely be the same, but the application framework may be different. For example, Surrey might have different setback distances than Vancouver and different municipal rules.