Ontario is Canada’s largest recreational cannabis market, and yet, it has only 430 cannabis dispensaries open versus almost 600 cannabis retail stores in Alberta, whose population is less than 1/3rd of Ontario’s. Ontario cannabis retail industry needs to up its game soon to meet the burgeoning demand of cannabis consumers in the province. The Ontario government probably understands this now and recently increased its cannabis store licensing authorization targets from 80 to 120 per month. This news likely comes as a relief for those waiting in line and incentivizes other budding cannabis entrepreneurs looking at setting up a cannabis retail store in Ontario.
Cannabis retail is unlike any other business because of the laws and regulations surrounding it. And even though it may sound complicated at first glance, government organizations and licensing authorities have detailed information on their websites to help you with the application process and other parameters to be taken into account while venturing into the cannabis industry. And if that is not enough, several credible cannabis consultants in the market can guide you with best practices and compliance mandates while planning a business model and launching your cannabis retail business. So let us look at all the government organizations you must know about and some of the consultants you can consider to help you in starting or managing your cannabis retail operations.
1. The AGCO
As the provincial regulator for privately run recreational cannabis stores, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario licenses eligible cannabis retail stores, regulates sales and approves cannabis retail employee training programs. AGCO Officials also inspect retail store locations regularly to verify ongoing compliance with Ontario’s Cannabis laws, regulations, and standards. Applying for a legal license while figuring out all requirements that you must adhere to while establishing a cannabis dispensary can be a daunting task, but the AGCO has a well-mapped retailer licensing journey on their website to facilitate the process. There are various other resources available on the website like Cannabis Retail Regulation Guide and Retail Reporting Requirements that you must go through to ensure that your legal cannabis operations always remain compliant with the law.
2. The OCS
The Ontario Cannabis Store is a crown corporation owned by the Province of Ontario and is the sole legal wholesale supplier of cannabis to private retail stores. The OCS also operates the only authorized online store for recreational cannabis sales in Ontario, and the AGCO does not regulate the OCS. Their online store prioritizes education and provides resources for consumers to learn more about recreational cannabis and its responsible consumption. Although Ontario has allowed emergency curbside pickup and delivery for private cannabis stores, these are just temporary measures put in place during the pandemic. Whenever we return to a certain sense of normal, cannabis transactions at private stores will have to be completed in-store, and delivery will most likely remain the exclusive domain of the government-operated Ontario Cannabis Store. Regardless, the OCS will remain the only legal supplier that will purchase cannabis from authorized producers and sell it to retail stores. Thus, ensure that you read all the relevant information available on their website and follow the legal process of sourcing cannabis for your dispensary in Ontario.
CannDelta Inc., a cannabis regulatory and scientific consulting company located in Toronto, is leading the way in advising clients within the legal cannabis ecosystem. One of the top cannabis consulting firms in Ontario, it continually adapts to change and innovation in the cannabis industry and helps its clients stay compliant within the ever-evolving legal framework. CannDelta specializes in cannabis licensing application support for entrepreneurs who are starting a business in anything from Cannabis Cultivation to Cannabis Retail. Its co-founder, Dr. Lucas C. McCann, and other consultants have extensive regulatory and scientific experience from which they draw upon to help clients navigate Health Canada’s regulations and optimize compliance at their cannabis businesses. By providing cannabis training and education on standard operating procedures within the industry, CannDelta's team of scientists and consultants strive to create compliant and successful cannabis dispensaries from coast to coast across Canada.
Dicentra Cannabis Consulting is another firm in Ontario that provides a range of services to help clients establish, improve, and perfect their cannabis businesses. Whether you are looking at applying for licenses under the Cannabis Act or designing and conducting clinical trials, they can assist you in these matters, along with providing business strategy and product development consulting services. Dicentra also has various online training programs, including the Cannabis GMP training, which can help your cannabis production team get certified and ensure that you comply with all quality assurance regulations.
5. Business of Cannabis
Business of Cannabis is a media production house located in Toronto, Ontario, and is Canada's most reliable source for news and analysis on the cannabis industry. With various informative events, webinars and podcasts, they provide smart, legitimate, and ambitious coverage of the cannabis industry, and you must sign up for their newsletter or follow them on social media to stay up to date with the latest happenings in Ontario and the rest of Canada. Business of cannabis has great insights on the cannabis consumer market, and through its partnerships with CannDelta and Cova, is facilitating the establishment of a robust cannabis ecosystem in Ontario that everyone in this business can benefit from.
All these different organizations can guide you in their own unique way to help you in your journey to becoming a successful cannabis dispensary owner. However, ensure that you choose a reliable technology partner that has cannabis industry-specific experience to help you quickly establish operations and streamline your dispensary management. Cova Software is the leading cannabis technology company in North America that always advocates for best practices in cannabis retail and is the chosen POS solution by more than 60% of cannabis retail stores in Canada. If you’d like to learn more about how Cova can help you establish or streamline your cannabis dispensary operations in Ontario, book a demo with us now.