Before you open the doors at your very own shop in British Columbia and start raking in the revenue, you’ll have to successfully apply for a recreational cannabis retail license. The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB), which released a 25-page application guide for retailers, will begin accepting online applications for recreational cannabis retail licenses sometime in August.
If approved, the license will allow retailers to sell cannabis flower and accessories in physical storefronts once federal legalization comes into full effect on October 17, 2018. Here’s how to apply for a recreational cannabis retail store license in British Columbia.
How to Apply for a Non-Medical Cannabis Retail License in British Columbia
1. Register Your Cannabis Business
Step one is pretty straightforward, though typically time-consuming. Cannabis retail license applicants are required to register in British Columbia as a sole proprietor, partnership or corporation and have a 9-digit business number issued by the Canada Revenue Agency. In addition to determining the structure of your business, all applicants will be required to collect provincial sales taxes, so make sure you're registered.
Once you have notified the province of your cannabis retail dreams, you will need to obtain a Business BCeID to log in and start the application process.
2. Secure a Cannabis Retail Location
Applicants must own, lease or have an agreement to lease the proposed standalone retail store location before applying. In your application, you will need to provide the parcel identifier number (PID), show proof of ownership or a copy of a fully executed lease, and a floor plan.
Have more than one location? You’ll have to apply for separate licenses for each store. However, if you want to hold more than eight retail licenses, you’re out of luck. The government will revisit that number in 2021.
3. Submit a Completed Cannabis Retail Application
One major mistake you can make in the process is submitting a cannabis retail application that is missing required information or documentation. Make sure you have covered the following information before submitting to avoid interruptions:
- Applicant and business associates information
- Location details
- Information about other licenses held by the applicant or other applications for licenses from the applicant and the applicant's associates
- Consent for security screening and financial integrity checks
- Financial and business information
- Details about family connections to any federally licensed cannabis producers and retail license holders or applicants for retail licenses
Once you’ve assembled and filled out the application in its entirety, you’ll submit it to the LCRB for review. The initial cost of the application is $7,500 and includes security screening and financial integrity checks. Additional costs include your $1,500 first-year licensing and a $1,500 annual renewal fees, that’s $10,000 in start-up costs.
4. Obtain Support From Your Local Government
Where any proposed store is located, the local government must provide a positive recommendation to the LCRB before your application can proceed. The local government must ask residents in the vicinity of the proposed retail location to comment on how the store would impact the community. They may also have the power to charge a fee to review the application, create zoning bylaws, and impose limits on signage and operational hours.
Failure to obtain a recommendation could halt the application process. However, the LCRB is not bound by the recommendation to issue a license when making its final licensing decision.
5. Finalize Plans and Pass a Store Inspection
The LCRB will give conditional approval to cannabis retail license applicants. If you receive this approval, you must secure ownership or a lease for the store, make sure the terms and conditions of the license are met, and make changes to the store to match the description submitted with the application, including floor plan, exterior signage, and window covering.
After these physical changes are made, you’ll need to schedule an inspection with the LCRB. They will assess whether the store meets provincial regulation and any requirements established by your local government. Successful applicants will receive a license after the LCRB has confirmed that all license requirements have been met, the inspection has been passed, and the licensing fee has been received by the government.
For comprehensive Canadian cannabis information as well as provincial details, be sure to check out our Canadian dispensary laws page, which is regularly updated as new information is released.