How to get cannabis retail licensing in Canada

POSTED ON September 14, 2021

Canadian cannabis retail licensing

In only 3 years since legalization, Canada has grown its recreational cannabis retail store count to ~2277. When you first set out to apply for a physical cannabis retail store licence, it’s essential to keep the next steps in mind, even before you’ve made it through the licensing application requirements. There are many facets to owning and operating a cannabis retail store, in addition to having the proper licensing in place, that require careful consideration.

Once approved for a retail licence, you’ll need to consider your point of sale system which acts as a control centre for all of your inventory and data, and the features you need should be considered carefully to avoid fines or loss of licence while operating. This is especially important when you consider not only the volume of work required to set up a business for cannabis sales and operations, but also because you’ll need to ensure and be accountable for operating in compliance with all kinds of rules and regulations, which can be amended at any time, no matter which province or territory you’re from.

As part of most licence conditions across Canada, a cannabis licensee is required to maintain a system that tracks cannabis inventory perpetually. All inventory and variations must be accounted for and data must be stored for at least 6 years in most cases. Greenline can help with every aspect of tracking for cannabis retail sales and management to ensure full compliance.

Compliance is always top-of-mind with Greenline as the entire system was designed specifically to meet Canadian cannabis compliance requirements. One-click compliance reporting helps you save time, work efficiently, and remain compliant. With an invaluable set of automation tools for inventory management, Greenline provides full flexibility and scalability for any cannabis retail business.


Age restriction: 19+

Provincial store count: 366

Maximum # allowable licences per individual or business: 8

In British Columbia, the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) is responsible for the licensing of private non-medical cannabis retail stores with the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) offering online sales through its online BC Cannabis Store.

A Cannabis Retail Store Licence is required to operate a cannabis retail store in BC and a separate licence is required for each store.

Cannabis Retail Store Licence Fees

Application fee: $7,500 (includes security screening and financial integrity checks)
First-year licensing fee: $1,500
Annual renewal fee: $1,500
Security screening renewal fee: TBD – every 2 years

Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB)

BC Cannabis Retail Store Licence Handbook


Age restriction: 18+

Provincial store count: 661

Maximum # allowable licences per individual or business: Unlimited

Since legalization, a single company or person in Alberta could only own up to 15 per cent of the cannabis stores operating the province. The ownership cap has since been removed.

The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) is responsible for regulating private retail sales of recreational cannabis, including retail applications and the distribution of cannabis. The AGLC also operates Alberta’s only legal recreational online cannabis store,

A Retail Cannabis Licence is required to sell cannabis in Alberta. As part of the application process, an extensive background check is required where applicants must provide detailed personal and financial information in addition to fees, municipal approval, business requirements and retail store requirements including a detailed floor plan and a POS and inventory management tracking system.

Retail Cannabis Licence Fees
Application fee: (for each store location): $400
Annual licence fee: $700
Initial deposit (for background checks): $3,000
(additional costs may be added, AGLC will refund the unused amount)

Alberta Retail Cannabis Store Handbook


Age restriction: 19+

Provincial store count: 97

Maximum # allowable licences per individual or business: Unlimited

Recreational cannabis retail in Saskatchewan follows a private retail model. Recreational cannabis retailers must hold a Retail Cannabis Permit from the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA). Permitted cannabis retail stores must operate a brick-and-mortar store and can also sell cannabis online for pick-up and delivery in Saskatchewan. Retailers may also sell cannabis at wholesale to other permitted retailers located in the province.

The SLGA is accepting Retail Cannabis Permit applications for stores in all communities in the province (provided the community has not opted out of having cannabis retail stores).

Applicants will continue to be required to meet SLGA’s permitting requirements including a good character check, financial capacity, inventory tracking and store security. Applicants will also need to meet local municipal requirements, including zoning. It’s important to note that the municipality or First Nation must approve the establishment of a retail store in the community before SLGA will issue a permit.

Retail Cannabis Permit Fees

Permits in cities
Application fee:
Annual permit fee: $3,000

Permits in any other community:
Application fee: $2,000
Annual permit fee: $1,500

SLGA may also charge applicants on a cost recovery basis for expenses incurred as a result of investigations into individual or corporate backgrounds. The permit may be issued for up to three years.

Additional information on Cannabis Retail Licensing in Saskatchewan and the Cannabis Regulatory Policy Manual can be found here.


Age restriction: 19+

Provincial store count: 106

Maximum # allowable licences per individual or business:  Restricted to no more than 15% of cannabis retail market share for the province.

Manitoba’s private retail model is regulated through the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority (LGCA) and wholesale distribution is through Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation (MLLC).

In June, 2020, the Manitoba government turned to a competitive cannabis retail market, allowing more retail licence applications. Prior to June 1, there were only 6 licensed non-medical cannabis retailers in Manitoba (Delta 9 Cannabis Store, Tweed, Meta Cannabis Supply Co., Tokyo Smoke, Garden Variety, Fire & Flower Cannabis Co.) with various locations around the province.

Retail Cannabis Licence

To operate a cannabis retail store in Manitoba applicants must complete the application process, enter into a Cannabis Store Retailer Agreement with Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries (MBLL), and be issued an applicable licence from the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority (LGCA) of Manitoba. Cannabis retail store agreements are administered by Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries and the LGCA is not involved in the process. Once Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries indicates that it will enter into an agreement, the business can then apply to the LGCA for licensing. Once licensed, retailers can only purchase cannabis through MBLL.

There are two types of retail cannabis licences issued by the LGCA, which prioritizes new applicants to the market:

  • Age-Restricted Store: People younger than 19 years old are prohibited from entering the store.
  • Controlled-Access Store: A retailer is able to sell cannabis within a larger retailer store that sells other products as long as the cannabis products are not visible.

Application fee: $500 (non-refundable)
Annual licence fee: $1,000

Cannabis Retailer Web Portal User Guide


Age restriction: 19+

Provincial store count: 891

Maximum # allowable licences per individual or business: Unlimited
Legislation has been amended to facilitate the establishment of one retail store by licensed producers at their federally licensed production site.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is the provincial regulator authorized to grant store licences and regulate and enforce the sale of recreational cannabis in privately run stores. The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) is the exclusive wholesaler to these stores. The retailer may only sell cannabis obtained through the OCS.

To open a retail store there are two licences and an authorization that are required from the AGCO.

Retail Operator Licence (ROL)

  • confirms they meet the eligibility criteria set out in the Cannabis Licence Act and its regulations.

Retail Store Authorization (RSA)

  • requires a valid ROL (or submission of application for ROL) and confirms the store meets the location, layout, security and other requirements set out in the regulations and standards. An RSA is required for each retail location.

Cannabis Retail Manager Licence

  • not required if the licensed retail operator is a sole proprietor or is in a partnership between two or more individuals, and will be both the licensed operator and performing the duties of the retail store manager for a particular store. There must be at least one licensed Cannabis Retail Manager for each authorized store location.

Application fees

The provincial application fees (non-refundable) will add up to approximately $10,000 and cover a 2-year term.

Retail Operator Licence: $6,000

Retail Store Authorization: $4,000

Cannabis Retail Manager Licence: $750

AGCO announced in February, 2021 they will be licensing 120 stores per month.

Cannabis Retailer Licensing Journey

Cannabis Retail Regulation Guide



Age restriction: 19+

Provincial store count: 14

Maximum # allowable licences per individual or business: All cannabis licence fees are the same for Whitehorse and the communities and are non-refundable.

The territory of Yukon has both private and government-run cannabis retail stores.

The only legal online non-medical ecommerce site to purchase cannabis in Yukon is Cannabis Yukon, which is run by the Yukon Liquor Corporation and also lists the location of licensed private cannabis retailers in Yukon.

Yukon Cannabis Retail Licence

The Cannabis Retail Licence is available in two subclasses:

  • Sub-Class 1 is for a store within a store
  • Sub-Class 2 is for a stand-alone store

Initial application fee: $2,050

Renewal application fee: $1,550

Annual licence fee: $2,150

Additional information on cannabis retail licensing in the Yukon is available here.


Age restriction: 19+

Provincial store count: 6

Maximum # allowable licences per individual or business: 0
Currently, there is no set cap on the number of cannabis vendors that will be designated by the Minister. Through the Request for Proposals process, the Minister will assess community interest, the applications received and their viability, and designate vendors as appropriate.

The sale of cannabis in the Northwest Territories (NWT) is conducted through the Northwest Territories’ Liquor and Cannabis Commission (NTLCC) and private retailers designated by the Minister of Finance. The NTLCC controls the inventory, sale and delivery of cannabis and sets prices for cannabis products.

The NTLCC is the only online retailer of cannabis and is responsible for regulating the cannabis industry in the NWT, including entering into agreements with cannabis vendors designated by the Minister and monitoring the operation of vendors.

To be considered a potential cannabis retail vendor, interested applicants must first submit an expression of interest letter to the Director of the NTLCC. The NTLCC will do an initial community assessment to determine community support and sufficient demand. Following a positive assessment, a public Request for Proposals (RFP) will be released to that specific community.

Application fee: $1000
If an applicant does not pass the Pre‐Application Security Screening, half of this fee will be refunded.

More information on cannabis retail in the NWT can be found here.


Age restriction: 19+

Provincial store count: <10

Maximum # allowable licences per individual or business: 1
An application can be submitted to operate a physical cannabis store as well as a remote sale store (online store) at no additional charge.

The Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission (NULC) is a public agency responsible for selling and distributing alcoholic beverages and cannabis products in Nunavut. The NULC operates from within the Government of Nunavut (GN) Department of Finance.

In June, 2020, the Government of Nunavut began accepting applications for physical cannabis retail stores by private retailers who are permitted to sell cannabis supplied by registered wholesalers. Prior to June 1, cannabis sales in Nunavut were limited to online orders from just two suppliers, Canopy Growth Corporation (Tweed) and AgMedica (Vertical Cannabis).

To operate a physical or online recreational cannabis store in Nunavut, you must have a valid Cannabis Retail Licence. Currently, there are two classes of licences available to private cannabis retailers – physical cannabis stores and remote sales (online/phone). There are two subclasses of physical stores – Enclosed Cannabis Stores (free standing) and Integrated Cannabis Stores (integrated within another commercial establishment via a window or a kiosk).

Cannabis Retail Licence Fees

Application fee: $2,000
Licensing or renewal fee: $1,000 (Physical Stores)
Licensing or renewal fee: $500 (Online Stores only)
Fee to vary a condition on a licence: $500
Fee for transferring a licence $500
A quarterly revenue-based licensing fee is also applied to all Cannabis Retail Stores. Retailers must pay 2% of their revenue from cannabis product sales. 

Additional information on cannabis retail in Nunavut can be found here.

Nunavut Cannabis Retailers Handbook


Age restriction: 21+

Provincial store count: 89

Maximum # allowable licences per individual or business: 0

In Quebec, all recreational cannabis stores are government-run, with the Société Québécoise du Cannabis (SQDC), a subsidiary of the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ), acting as the province’s sole distributor.

The SQDC is permitted to purchase cannabis from producers authorized under the Cannabis Act, operate retail locations, and sell cannabis online. New points of sale will be added as necessary to meet market demand.

For additional information:


Age restriction: 19+

Provincial store count: 20

Maximum # allowable licences per individual or business: 0

Cannabis NB is the only legal retailer of recreational cannabis for the province of New Brunswick. It is a subsidiary of ANBL (Alcool NB Liquor) and manages retail cannabis sales for the Cannabis Management Corporation. The province offers an online store Cannabis NB.

More information about cannabis retail in New Brunswick can be found here.


Age restriction: 19+

Provincial store count: ~30

Maximum # allowable licences per individual or business: 0

The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) is the only authorized retailer of recreational cannabis in Nova Scotia. All profits from the NSLC go back to the province.

More information on cannabis in Nova Scotia can be found here.


Age restriction: 19+

Provincial store count: 4

Maximum # allowable licences per individual or business: 0

The Prince Edward Island Cannabis Management Corporation (which operates as PEI Cannabis) is the only retailer of adult use cannabis in Prince Edward Island and oversees the operation of four cannabis retail locations and an e-commerce platform ( with direct-to-home delivery.

Additional information on cannabis retail on PEI can be found here.


Age restriction: 19+

Provincial store count: ~25-30

Maximum # allowable licences per individual or business: 0

In Newfoundland & Labrador, the sale and distribution of recreational cannabis is conducted through private retailers licensed by the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC). The NLC controls the possession, sale and delivery of cannabis, and sets prices for cannabis products. The NLC has established a secure online location for the purchase of cannabis products.

Additional information on recreational cannabis in Newfoundland & Labrador is available at

Greenline POS can help get you started and feeling secure in setting your operational plans to run a cannabis retail store. We can also refer any consultants you may require throughout the licensing process. Schedule a demo with our sales team today!

The Cannabis Act came into force on October 17, 2018. Provinces and territories are responsible for determining how cannabis is distributed and sold within their jurisdictions.