Like many provinces in Canada, Ontario is slowly rolling out their retail cannabis program. Taking on a phased approach, Ontario estimates brick-and-mortar retail cannabis stores will begin sales in April 2019.
Ahead of this next phase of legalization in Ontario, the provincial government released new guidelines for licensing and retail sales. The Cova team is happy to announce our cannabis Point of Sale system meets all of Ontario’s requirements for tracking and reporting. We can provide a seamless and integrated POS system in your retail dispensary to take the pain out of compliance.
While these newly released details clear up a lot, there are still some unanswered questions and some rules could change. As new information comes out, we will promptly update this page.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is the only licensing authority for retail cannabis stores in Ontario. Producer licenses will be granted through Health Canada.
Municipalities can opt out of the retail cannabis program, but they must do so before January 22, 2019. This is the only opt-out window as of now, so if a municipality fails to opt out before that date the AGCO will consider them a willing participant in the industry.
Right now, adults in Ontario can purchase non-medical cannabis through the Ontario Cannabis Store, a publicly operated online store and delivery system. The application process for privately operated brick-and-mortar stores is open and sales are estimated to begin in April 2019.
Ontario’s provincial government announced that only 25 cannabis retail licenses in Ontario will be granted in April 2019 through a lottery system. This decision was made due to a shortage in supply happening all over the country. The limited lottery system is only meant to be
There are three in total:
1) Retail Operator Licence: For people or entities that will be operating a cannabis retail store.
2) Retail Store Authorization: Authorizes you to operate a physical storefront. You’ll need a different authorization for every location.
3) Cannabis Retail Manager Licence: Required for anyone with management responsibilities to ensure the responsible sale of cannabis. In this case, “management responsibilities” are defined as:
Supervising or managing employees
Overseeing or coordinating the sale of cannabis
Managing compliance issues in relation to the sale of cannabis
Generally speaking, all license holders must be at least 19 years old, financially responsible, have no convictions or charges under the Cannabis Licence Act of 2018, have no current or previous ties to criminal organizations and have not lied in their application.
In almost all cases, yes. The first step is applying for a Retail Operator Licence, followed by a Retail Store Authorization and a Cannabis Retail Manager Licence. You cannot apply for the Retail Store Authorization without first submitting the Retail Operator Licence application.
The only exception is if you are a sole proprietor acting as both the owner and manager for a particular store. If so, you will not need the Cannabis Retail Manager Licence.
1) Retail Operator Licence: $6,000 for a 2-year term, with a $2,000 renewal fee or $4,000 renewal fee for a 4-year term.
2) Retail Store Authorization: $4,000 for a 2-year term, with a $3,500 renewal fee or a $7,000 renewal fee for a 4-year term.
3) Cannabis Retail Manager Licence: $750 for a 2-year term, with a $500 renewal or a $1,000 renewal for a 4-year term.
Licence applications are accepted online through
Applicants may be required to include:
Details of Shareholders
Tax Return and Tax Assessment
While these aren’t technically required upon initial application submission, it can slow down the licensing process if they aren’t provided up front.
After submitting a Retail Operator Licence application or successfully receiving one, you can move into the Retail Store Authorization process. You will need your Business Name Registration and Proof of Ownership/Tenancy (if applicable).
While not required, the AGCO strongly recommends completing the following steps before submitting a Retail Store Authorization application:
Confirm that the location you are interested in opening your store in is zoned for commercial or retail use.
If your intended location is on a reserve, obtain a Resolution of the Council of the Board showing approval.
Have your Retail Operator Licence application file number or licence number ready.
Make sure your proposed store location meets all requirements (more on that later).
Double check that your business or store name complies with all Federal and Provincial laws regarding advertising and promotion.
To apply for this licence, you’ll need a completed Personal History form (provided in
You can find detailed information in the AGCO’s Cannabis Retail Regulation Guide.
All individuals employed in a cannabis retail store must complete an employee training designed and approved by the AGCO Board. These education requirements have to be completed before the first day of work at any retail cannabis location. The program includes lessons on:
Basic cannabis knowledge
The socially responsible sale of cannabis
Rules related to the sale of cannabis
Legal and compliance responsibilities for cannabis retailers
According to the Cannabis Licence Act of 2018, a retail cannabis location must abide by these requirements:
Must be located in a municipality or reserve that has opted into the retail cannabis program.
Is not within 150 metres of a public or private school.
Only operates between the hours of 9:00 am and 11:00 pm (Monday-Sunday) and municipalities can set different hours of operation.
Must be the only business operating in the store and can only sell approved cannabis products and certain cannabis accessories like pipes and rolling papers.
The minimum age for purchasing non-medical cannabis is 19, one year older than the federal minimum age required for tobacco or alcohol.
Any other items, like bags or cannabis accessories, must comply with advertising rules and be approved by the AGCO.
If proposed legislation passes, adults over the age of 19 years old will be able to have a maximum of 30 grams (about one ounce) of dried cannabis in public at any time.
Proposed legislation says purchase limits cannot exceed the 30 gram possession allowance, but could be limited to a lesser amount. We will update this answer when purchase limits are finalized.
Yes; the AGCO will operate the Ontario Cannabis Store, an online marketplace and delivery system. Online cannabis sales in Ontario will begin on October 17, 2018.
Retailers are required to purchase all wholesale inventory exclusively from the publicly-owned Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation. This is the same entity that will run the online Ontario Cannabis Store.
Right now, retail cannabis stores can only sell cannabis flower, tinctures, topicals and concentrates.
As of now, retail cannabis stores cannot sell edibles. The Federal government is taking a phased approach to product releases and edibles are expected to hit the market in early 2019, with the first draft of edibles regulations possibly available as early as December 2018.
Retailers will be responsible for tracking cannabis as it moves in and out of their store, according to Section 81 of the federal Cannabis Act. That means each sale must be traceable back to the employee that conducted the transaction and all cannabis moving in or out of your store must be tracked in a way that allows for product recalls and limits diversion to the black market. A licensee’s records must account for cannabis products used for display purposes too, accounting for the product after it is no longer used in a display.
Yes, Cova’s Point of Sale system is made with the cannabis industry in mind and meets all tracking requirements in Ontario. Ontario requires that any POS systems used by a licensee must be certified by a recognized industry certification organization like the PCI Security Standards Council or the International Organization for Standardization. A POS must also monitor all system access and changes.
Cova’s POS meets all of this criteria and more, taking the hassle out of tracking and reporting. See the cannabis industry’s most loveable POS in action with a live demo.
Once you have a temporary or annual retail operator license, have created your account in Metrc and completed the required training, you may begin working with Metrc.
No, temporary licensees are not required to report in Metrc. However, temporary licensees are required to keep records of all track and trace information from the time they begin retail operations. Once an annual license has been approved, you must backlog all the track and trace information that you’ve recorded and begin daily reporting in Metrc.
Once you’ve set up your account in
The first way is manual reporting. This method requires logging in to your
The second way is to utilize a retail-specific cannabis dispensary software that can integrate with
In the event that you lose connectivity to
The state mandates that retailers maintain accurate inventory records. Physical inventory must be reconciled with records at least once every 14 days. You must also reconcile physical inventory with the counts you’ve reported in
Cova POS software provides complete seed-to-sale tracking functionality and has a number of built-in features designed to help you automatically comply with the legal regulations in your state/province. For example, the Cova POS system automatically monitors:
To ensure that you always maintain an expedient transaction pace and keep lines moving, Cova comes with a built-in offline sales processing mode that enables continuous access to critical functions even when your Wi-Fi or internet connection is unavailable. Once connectivity is restored, all transactions performed in offline mode are synchronized with the state’s reporting system, data is backed up, and reports and inventory records are adjusted accordingly.
By choosing a POS system with built-in tax reporting functionality, you’ll always know exactly how much tax you need to pay.
There are several reasons why a cannabis-specific POS is ideal for your operation—but the most important one is compliance management. Because traditional retail operations and pharmacies don’t have the same government-mandated compliance requirements, their POS systems aren’t built to manage the complexities involved with track and trace reporting and the other aspects of state compliance.
With the industry still in its infancy, regulations are bound to change. At Cova, our team keeps up with industry-wide and state-specific changes so that our developers can quickly made necessary software updates—and so you never have to worry about remaining compliant with the latest regulations.
Absolutely! Cova software is built on technology that has the ability to dynamically scale with your needs. Microsoft’s Cloud Computing Platform, Azure, automatically detects instances of heavy traffic (such as sales on 4/20) and assigns further servers and computing power as necessary to compensate—allowing you to process sales without interruption, even during the busiest retail periods.
Although technically you are not mandated to comply with the new law and regulations until July, it’s a good idea to implement a compliant POS now so you don’t have to switch later.
With Cova, you can easily stay compliant with California’s inventory reconciliation requirement by printing the Inventory-on-hand report and checking it against your physical inventory. You can make any necessary adjustments directly into the POS, which will then sync the data across your network.