After Ontario’s abolishment of the lottery system, obtaining an Ontario Cannabis Retail Authorization became a much more attainable goal for those looking to enter the industry as a retailer. Now, as of March 2nd, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has begun accepting Retail Store Authorization (RSA) applications. There are up to 10 submissions allowed per applicant.
This comes as part of the AGCO’s new two-step application process, a process which began on January 6th when the AGCO opened applications for Retail Operators Licences (ROL) to all qualifying candidates. Following March 2nd, all those who successfully applied for an ROL can continue the process and submit an application for an RSA.
Starting in April 2020, the AGCO is expecting to licence up to 25 new stores a month, with the aim of having an additional 200 private retail locations licensed to serve the public by the end of 2020. This increase is expected to help alleviate the lack of distribution and public availability that have plagued the industry during the first year of legalization in Ontario.
In addition to these changes, there have been updates to the requirements for the data security of all Ontario cannabis retail locations. All licensees will be required to ensure the safeguarding and data protection for all their store data, which will include their point-of-sale systems and e-commerce systems. After that, these systems must also be certified by a recognized industry certification body or organization and must provide a method of tracking and logging to monitor all system access and changes made.
For those who want to capitalize on the new open market for retail stores, there are a number of factors that will affect the time it takes for the AGCO to complete their review.
These factors include:
- The completeness of the application up-front (including any supplemental documents that may be requested during the review process)
- The time it takes for an applicant to address and correct any deficiencies in their application
- Any issues identified by the AGCO during the review process that require further investigation
- Number and scope of any concerns raised during the public notice process
- The time required for construction or renovation of the physical location to meet regulatory requirements and to pass the AGCO inspections
dicentra Cannabis Consulting can guide you through all of the above. The application, licensing process, and identify areas unique to your business to ensure that they meet all AGCO requirements. Call us today and get a jump on establishing your own new piece in the industry!