Regulations for Dispensaries in Ontario
Good news for cannabis companies and marijuana dispensaries means the cannabis industry in Canada is ready to get much larger.
The regulations for cannabis stores and marijuana dispensaries in Ontario have finally been announced. This means that the incoming brick and mortar retail cannabis stores, aka retail marijuana dispensaries, will open in Ontario on April 1, 2019.
Finger’s crossed that it’s no April Fool’s joke.
These regulations will guide the startup of private cannabis stores and recreational marijuana dispensaries as well as act as a guide for all employees and owners in the Ontario retail cannabis industry.
So let’s get into it. What are the regulations for dispensaries in Ontario?
What Are The Ontario Regulations For Cannabis Dispensaries?
So what exactly are the regulations in Ontario for Cannabis stores and marijuana dispensaries?
Canada is leaving it up to each province to determine key regulations that will have a major effect on cannabis businesses, including where marijuana can be purchased and consumed, how it is taxed and who can sell it.
As of mid-November 2018, New Brunswick, Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta, and Newfoundland have unveiled models for how recreational marijuana will be sold – offering a glance at the direction policymakers in several provinces are heading.
It gets a bit more complicated, or even silly, at this point.
Yes, Canada leaves it up to each province to determine the key regulations, but the Provinces leave it up to the individual municipalities to determine if marijuana dispensaries are approved for business in each municipality.
Some municipalities in Ontario have already opted to ban marijuana stores and dispensaries in their cities. The cities listed below have all refused to allow cannabis dispensaries to open in their area:
- Markham, ON
- Richmond Hill, ON
- Norfolk County, ON
- West Vancouver, BC
- Tofino, BC
- Richmond, BC
- Abbotsford, BC
- Pitt Meadows, BC
- Whistler, BC
Ontario’s Regulations For Marijuana Dispensaries and Cannabis Stores
Currently, Ontarioians can only purchase cannabis from the OCS.ca website. But as of April 1, 2018 everything changes and the market is wide open!
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) will be accepting applications for cannabis-related licenses starting on Dec 17, 2018.
The regulations for cannabis stores is a complicated, long and boring read. We’ve summarized the key points that will matter most to cannabis stores and dispensary owners.
Having said that, this is a very high-level view of the Ontario regulations for cannabis dispensaries and should not be looked at as the definitive guide 🙂
Key Regulations For Dispensary Owners
Each dispensary operator can own up to 75 cannabis stores. This is a market concentration limit set by the Ontario government. I have no initial issue with this other than there is a limit. It’s more than likely a good thing for the industry as a whole.
There is some bad news for the black market. Think of all the illegal marijuana dispensaries that are open right now. You’ve likely walked by, drive by, or visited some of these cannabis stores.
The Ontario government has stated that any illegal cannabis retailers who are still operating on or after October 17, 2018, will not be eligible to receive a cannabis sales license.
I for one am super interested to see what happens to these existing, “illegal”, cannabis stores come April 1, 2019.
Cannabis retail store licenses also won’t be issued to any person or organization who has an association with organized crime or whose tax compliance status is not up to par.
In terms of operating hours, your standalone dispensary can operate any day of the week between 9a-11p. They must also be at least 150 meters away from schools and bar entry to anyone under 19 years of age.
As far as dispensary retail employees go, Ontario regulations for cannabis stores is similar to what servers and bartenders need to do in order to be able to work with serving alcohol – i.e. SmartServe.
Cannabis retail store managers and dispensary employees, now known as budtenders, must complete approved training in the responsible sale of cannabis. As you can see this is very similar to SmartServe.
As mentioned, the above points are simply the highlights of the Ontario regulations for retail dispensaries.
If you’re planning on applying for a cannabis retail license and operating a 420 dispensary or two, you should have a read through the full document.
How Do I Market My Dispensary?
Once you have your cannabis retail dispensary license and you’re gearing up to get your dispensary up and running, you’re going a comprehensive dispensary marketing plan.
Because of the strict regulations on dispensary advertising, the best dispensary marketing ideas should include content marketing and dispensary SEO (search engine optimization).
If you’re looking for an experienced cannabis SEO agency to help market your dispensary, we’ve published this free e-book “How To Choose The Right SEO Agency For Yoru Dispensary”.
If you’re ready to start building your dispensary website, we can build a customized e-commerce website with an initial dispensary SEO strategy.
If you’re looking for social media content creation and platform management, our team of cannabis marketing experts will implement, execute, and manage your dispensary social media marketing strategy.
ColaDigital is Canada’s most experienced cannabis marketing agency dedicated to marketing recreational marijuana and medical cannabis. We partner with marijuana companies who share our vision of destigmatizing cannabis and breaking new ground in this dynamic industry.
Our team has been implementing digital strategy and SEO since 2004, we believe our experience speaks for itself. We’ve served over 100 clients in a wide variety of B2B and B2C sectors, including companies in the medical cannabis space.
We know what works and what doesn’t.
Find out how cannabis retail stores and dispensaries can advertise on Facebook by following the link.
If you’d like to get started with an SEO strategy for your dispensary website today, please reach out and contact us to start the conversation.
We’re ready to help you grow!