Canada Cannabis Cannabis Retail Laws

Find information on cannabis laws, retail regulations, and licensing procedures you need to know when opening and operating a cannabis store in Canada.



Canada made history by becoming the largest country in the world to fully legalize adult-use cannabis on October 17, 2018, and the opportunities for retail-focused entrepreneurs are vast. Monthly sales passed $270 million in October of 2020, and continue to grow. Despite the pandemic, Canadian cannabis sales reached $3.25 billion in 2020, surpassing all expectations.

At Cova, we understand the unique needs of cannabis retailers. Our dispensary POS and inventory management, touchscreen menu and Express Checkout solutions are used in hundreds of dispensaries across North America. And as a Canada-based company, we couldn’t be more excited to help fellow Canadian businesses put their best foot forward in the emerging cannabis retail market.

Our parent company, iQmetrix, provides retail management and point-of-sale software to over 20,000 retail locations throughout North America. Our experience in scaling for large, multi-store retail operations uniquely qualifies us to work with both provincial government organizations and private entrepreneurs looking to run cannabis dispensaries. This page is informational only and should not be considered legal advice.

Compliance Reporting

Compliance with record-keeping and reporting requirements is of paramount concern to all cannabis operators. Health Canada has stipulated that all licensed cannabis activity—including sales, deliveries, and losses—must be recorded in the national Cannabis Tracking System (CTS).

As a retailer, you are required to submit monthly reports to your provincial government, which are then submitted to Health Canada to be updated in the CTS. These reports must be submitted through an online portal, or e-mailed, depending on your province.

At Cova, we’ve developed a point-of-sale specifically for Canadian cannabis retailers. Cova POS is able to generate 1-click compliance reports that contain all the data required, in the format established for each province. This automated process saves you countless hours in reconciling inventory and sales, and helps you avoid human errors that could cost you your license.

Throughout Canada, more than half of all private stores operating rely on Cova’s POS to keep them compliant.

Cannabis Marketing Restrictions

According to Health Canada’s regulations, “Unless authorized under the Cannabis Act, it is prohibited to promote cannabis or a cannabis accessory or any service related to cannabis.” These prohibitions include advertising cannabis through testimonials, endorsements, or portraying cannabis as if it’s linked to “a way of life such as one that includes glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk or daring.”

Guidelines for cannabis marketing are still lacking and Health Canada evaluates each violation on a case-by-case basis. Many provinces rely on the federal advertising regulations, but some provinces like Alberta and British Columbia have slight variations.

Cannabis Marketing Restrictions

  • Paid Google, Facebook, or Instagram Ads
  • Use celebrity endorsement
  • Outdoor Signage (although some provinces, like Alberta, allows signage but limits the content to name and address)
  • Using coupons
  • Free samples
  • Show cannabis product on your website
  • Sell merchandise
  • Communicating information about price

The following marketing techniques are allowed:

  • Creating a strong online presence
  • Building your brand
  • Engage customers through social media
  • Content marketing to drive organic search
  • Certain types of cannabis events, generally limited to intra-industry events
  • Email marketing
  • Informational Promotion (must be communicated to individuals 18 years + and is identified by name)

Cannabis retailers are expected to place advertisements in places where minors are not allowed. And if an advertisement is done via telecom, a retailer must prove they have taken reasonable steps to ensure the audience is 18+.


Ron Segev

Cannabis Business Lawyer & Founding Partner, Segev LLP

Legally reviewed by

Ron Segev

Ron Segev is the founding partner of Segev LLP. A practical-minded business lawyer with expertise in the cannabis industry, he represents cultivators, dispensaries, CBD extractors, oil extractors, food processors, media and marketing companies, consultancies, and other businesses in the legal cannabis market.

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