New Sections Added to Ontario’s Cannabis Retail Regulation Guide

Ontario cannabis retail regulations guide. Three new sections added.

Table of Contents

3 New Sections Added For Ontario Cannabis Retail Stores

If you’re one of the few cannabis retail dispensaries to open in Ontario, or if you’re planning on opening a dispensary in Ontario, eventually, you’ll want to know about the three new sections that have been added to the cannabis retail regulation guide.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) recently announced three newly added sections on April 2, 2019, stating that these new rules will apply to authorized cannabis retail operators.

The three new sections in the Cannabis Retail Regulation Guide for Ontario are:

1. Retail Reporting – Guidelines and Specifications

  • This section provides detailed information to assist licensees in meeting their regulatory, federal, and sales reporting requirements.

2. Advertising and Promotion

  • This section provides general information about the standards and requirements for advertising and promoting cannabis, cannabis accessories or the sale of cannabis as outlined in the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores.

3. Monetary Penalties

  • This section provides information on the use of monetary penalties as one of the compliance tools the AGCO may use when licensees are found to not be in compliance with the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, its regulation or the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores.

Below, we’ll outline and focus on the new cannabis “advertising and promotion” section as it pertains to authorized CBD and marijuana retail dispensaries in Ontario.

three hand rolled joints. cannabis retail stores rules on advertising and promotion.

New “Advertising and Promotion” Section in Ontario’s Cannabis Retail Regulation Guide

The AGCO has provided general information about the standards and requirements for advertising and promoting cannabis, cannabis accessories or the sale of cannabis as outlined in the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores.

If you’re not familiar with the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores in Ontario, you can review them here.

It’s also important to note that cannabis retail store operators in Ontario are also subject to the federal Cannabis Act and its regulations, which outline permissible and prohibited advertising and promotional activities. Please refer to the Cannabis Act for more information.

How Does Ontario Law Define “Advertising and Promotion”?

The new section defines advertising and promotion as any public notices, representations or activities that aims to attract attention to cannabis, cannabis accessories or the sale of cannabis.

Under the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 (CLA) and Regulation 468/18, the Registrar has the authority to establish standards and requirements with respect to a number of areas, including advertising and promotional activities.

We’ve provided an explanation of the Registrar’s standards applicable to advertising and promotion below.

Please note that this information does not replace legal advice and all examples are provided for illustrative purposes only.

Licensees are encouraged to seek independent legal counsel to fully understand their responsibilities as a licensed cannabis retail store operator.

Registrar’s Standards Applicable to Advertising and Promotion of Cannabis Retail Stores in Ontario

Standard 6.1
An authorized store selling cannabis or cannabis accessories is required to have signage identifying their business on the outside of the store.

Standard 6.2
Advertising may not:

  • Appeal to or target those under 19
  • Promote cannabis or cannabis accessories in a way that is false, misleading, or deceptive
  • Suggest or imply, directly, indirectly, or by use of endorsements of testimonials, that consumption of cannabis is associated with success, enjoyment of an activity, fulfillment of a goal, or the resolution of a problem
  • Be associated with medicine, health, or pharmaceuticals
    • For example, do not say that cannabis is healthy, nutritious or has simulative or sedative benefits.
  • Make any link to using cannabis and driving a motorized vehicle or doing any activity that has elements of danger
    • For example, do not show motorized vehicles in motion in any advertising or promotional materials. Additional examples of activities that you cannot show include football, skiing, hockey, surfing, hunting, and racing.

Standard 6.3
Cannabis or cannabis accessories may not be provided free of charge. In addition, you cannot encourage people to buy more cannabis or cannabis accessories by providing a thing or benefit that is contingent on a purchase.

  • For example, you cannot offer deals like: buy one get one half off, two for one-gram or buy an ounce and get a cannabis accessory free.

Standard 6.4
Licensees may not accept or request material or financial inducements from Licensed Producers, their representatives, or suppliers of cannabis accessories. An inducement is a thing, service or money that influences a licensee or producer to do something.

  • For example, you cannot make a deal with anyone who is affiliated with a licensed producer to sell their cannabis in exchange for furniture for your authorized store.
cannabis buds in a jar from an ontario dispensary.

So Can You Advertise Your Dispensary On Facebook & Google?

Unfortunately, the strict advertising restrictions for cannabis related products, including CBD oil, are still in place at Facebook & Google.

There are other ways to market and promote your dispensary that we’ve outlined in the following resources. If you’re looking for effective digital marketing tactics to promote your dispensary, check out these insights:

We Can Help You Promote Your Dispensary

When you’re ready to take your dispensary marketing to the next level, with or without digital advertising, please contact us for a free consultation or to request a quote.

For more information on this new section, please see the Advertising and Promotion page on the AGCO website.

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