British Columbia Opens Applications for Non-Medical Cannabis Retail Licences

The British Columbia Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) has opened applications for cannabis retail store licences. A cannabis retail store licence would allow licensees to sell non-medical cannabis and cannabis accessories in BC. 

Applications must apply through the LCRB's cannabis licensing application portal

Here is a summary of the process as outlined by the LCRB:

Register the Business

  • Applicants, other than Indigenous nations, will need to be registered in BC as sole proprietors, partnerships or corporations

  • Indigenous nation applicants may apply in their own right or as one of the legal entities above

  • All applicants must be registered to collect PST

  • All applicants must have a Business Number (9-digit number issued by the Canada Revenue Agency)

Create a Business BCeID

  • Individuals, partnerships, corporations or Indigenous nations seeking to submit applications will need a Business BCeID to log in

Find a Store Location

  • Applicants must own, lease or have an agreement to lease the proposed retail store location before applying

Submit an Application

The application requires:

  • Information about the applicant and associates

  • Information about the proposed location

  • Information about other licences held by the applicant or other applications for licences from the applicant and the applicant's associates

  • Consent for security screening and financial integrity checks

  • A declaration of financial, business or family connections to any federally licensed cannabis producers and retail licence holders or applicants for retail licences

  • An application fee

Applicants must apply for a separate licence for each store.

Get Local Government or Indigenous Nation Recommendation

  • If a proposed store is located in the area of a local government or on reserve, Nisga’a Land or treaty settlement land on an Indigenous nation, the LCRB must provide notice of the application to the local government or Indigenous nation

  • A local government or Indigenous nation that wishes to make a recommendation to the LCRB in response to a notice of application must gather the views of residents and must provide the recommendation to the LCRB

Local governments and Indigenous nations must recommend to the LCRB that a licence be issued before the LCRB may consider whether to issue a cannabis retail licence. The LCRB will consider, but is not bound by, the recommendation to issue a licence when making its licensing decision.

We note that local governments effectively have a veto over licensing decisions. Applications should keep in mind that they have a right to judicial review of local government decisions if they believe that the decision was unreasonable or unfair. 

Conditional Approval for a Licence

If conditional approval is given, the applicant can:

  • Secure ownership or a lease for the store

  • Make sure the terms and conditions of the licence are met

  • Make changes to the store to match the description submitted with the application

The LCRB has noted that because it does not know at this time how many applications for non-medical cannabis retail store licences will be received or how long the local government or Indigenous nation public recommendation process will take, it will be difficult to predict how long applications will take to process.

Pass a Store Inspection

  • LCRB inspectors will assess whether the store meets provincial regulation and any requirements established by the applicable local government or Indigenous nation

  • Prospective licensees can schedule their inspection when ready

The applicant will not be authorized to possess cannabis until the licence application has been approved. There must be no cannabis products in the store at the time of the inspection.

Receive a Licence

  • Successful applicants will receive a licence after the LCRB has confirmed that all licence requirements have been met, the inspection has been passed and the licensing fee has been received by government

  • Licensees must display the licence in a prominent place in their store

Register and Train Employees

  • All employees must be registered with BC before they can be employed in a non-medical cannabis store. Local governments may also have business licence requirements regarding employees

Order Cannabis Products

  • Before a licensee can order cannabis products, they must register with the LCRB

  • Licensees can only sell products purchased from the LCRB

  • Licensees will need a licence number to place an order

Report Your Sales

  • Licensees need to report inventory and sales to the LCRB on a regular basis

DISCLAIMER: This post is intended to convey general information about legal issues and developments as of the date above. It does not constitute legal advice and must not be treated or relied on as such.