If you've been ever been approached by a current or potential tenant who would like to lease your commercial property to establish a non-medical (recreational) cannabis retail location, you'll want to know what requirements those retailers need to meet to operate legally in your space. We lay out the federal, provincial and municipal regulations you need to know to ensure that any non-medical cannabis retailers who rent your space are operating within the new regulatory requirements.

Federal Government Requirements 

The Federal government regulates cannabis through the Cannabis Act. The Federal government’s responsibilities with respect to cannabis businesses are to set industry-wide rules and standards, including: 

Legal age requirement for customers

• Retailers are prohibited from selling to an individual under 18 [Note that it is 19 in BC] or to an organization. 

Types of cannabis products available for sale

• Retailers can only sell cannabis that is produced by licenced federal producers. Retailers cannot sell cannabis or cannabis accessories that have an appearance, shape or other sensory attribute or a function that could be appealing to young persons.

Packaging and labelling requirements for products

• Cannabis must be sold in the packaging that is provided by licenced federal producers. 

Restrictions on promotional activities, displays, and dispensing

• Retailers are prohibited from promoting cannabis, cannabis accessories (which include rolling papers or wraps, holders, pipes, water pipes, bongs, and vaporizers), or services related to cannabis except by informational promotion within the store, or at the point of sale (which may include only the availability and price). 

Cannabis and cannabis accessories cannot be displayed in a way that results in the cannabis or cannabis accessory, package or label being seen by a person under 18 [Note that it is 19 in BC].

Retailers cannot sell using a dispensing device or self-service display. 

Provincial Government Requirements

The government of BC is the primary regulator of private non-medical (recreational) cannabis retailers in BC. The government of BC is responsible for licensing cannabis retailers and overseeing the distribution of cannabis, subject to federal conditions, through the Cannabis Distribution Act and the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act.

Licencing Requirements

Recreational cannabis retailers need to have a Non-Medical Cannabis Retail Licence (“Licence”) from the government of BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (“LCRB”) in order to operate their business.

Applicants for a Non-Medical Cannabis Retail Licence must:

1. Be registered as a sole proprietor, partnership or corporation in BC and have a Business Number issued by the Canada Revenue Agency;

2. Own or lease, or have an agreement to own or lease the proposed premises where the retail store will operate;

3. Meet the Retail Space Requirements (see the box below)

4. Pass a store inspection by provincial LCRB inspectors.

Changes to the store, lease arrangement, or corporate structure can invalidate the licence. Retailers must notify LCRB about changes to the floor plan (such as an expansion), changes of the lease holder, or changes to the corporate structure (such as change of directors or senior managers).

The Licence must be displayed prominently in the sales area of the store.

Selling Cannabis Products 

The retail business must be registered with the Liquor Distribution Branch so they can order cannabis products. Licensees can only sell products that are purchased from the Liquor Distribution Branch.

Licensees can only sell:

• dried cannabis;

• cannabis oil;

•cannabis seeds; and

• cannabis accessories (defined by the Cannabis Act as a thing, including rolling papers or wraps, holders, pipes, water pipes, bongs and vaporizers, that is represented to be used in the consumption of cannabis).

Licensees cannot sell more than 30g of dried cannabis or its equivalent to a customer. Licensees cannot sell edibles, or any snacks, tobacco or other items not related to cannabis.

Licensees cannot give out samples of their products.  

Hours of Operation

Hours of sale are restricted to 9am – 11pm unless further restricted by local government or indigenous nation in which the store is located. 

Pricing

The price of cannabis products must be equal to or greater than the price paid to purchase from Liquor Distribution Branch. No loyalty programs are permitted.  

Store Naming

The retail store name cannot include the name of another business, reference to government, or the words “pharmacy”, “apothecary” or “dispensary”. Graphics associated with pharmacies (such as a green cross) are also prohibited.

Storage and Handling

Licensees must adhere to disposal requirements for products that cannot be sold.

Licensees cannot store unlawful cannabis (for example cannabis obtained from an unauthorized source) or private (for example homegrown) cannabis in the store. 

Store Activities

Licensees cannot use the store space for another purpose at any time. No games or entertainment are permitted in the store. No consumption of cannabis is permitted within the store. 

Worker Requirements

Workers must be registered with the LCRB and trained. Workers must be qualified by the Province of BC before they can work in a nonmedical cannabis store. 

Reporting Requirements

Licensees must report cannabis inventory and sales monthly to the LCRB. Licensees must keep a cannabis register – a record of all licensee’s purchases and sales. 

Retail Store Physical Space Requirements

MUST:

1. Be a self-contained store.

2. Have solid, fixed, immoveable and non- transparent floor-to-ceiling walls that separate the store from other businesses and shared areas

3. Have a public entrance that is separate and distinct from the entrances to other businesses

4. Store the entire inventory of cannabis onsite.

5. Have a security system that includes:

a. Intruder and fire monitoring alarm systems;

b. Security cameras with full unobstructed view of the retail sales area, product storage area, and both the interior and exterior of all entrances/exits;

c. Locked retail product display cases;

d. Locked cannabis storage room; and

e. Secure perimeter door locks.

CANNOT:

6. Have self-service of cannabis by customers.

7. Operate a drive-through, sell cannabis through online sales, or deliver cannabis products.

8. Operate a customer loyalty or gift card program.

9. Offer discounts based on purchases in another business.

10. Be associated with another business, except another non-medical cannabis retail store.

11. Have any direct doorways to other businesses.

12. Share common storage areas with other businesses

13. Share a common vestibule (such as a foyer) with another business that offers most of its good or services to minors or is licenced to sell liquor by the glass

14. Have cannabis products visible from the outside of the store.

15. Jointly advertise with another business. 

Municipal Government Requirements

Local governments can control whether or not a non-medical retailer (including a government retailer) receives a provincial licence to operate a retail location within their jurisdictional area. The LCRB cannot issue a licence unless the local government gives the LCRB a positive recommendation that the licence be issued.

Local governments may also control cannabis retailers through their local zoning, bylaws, and business licencing. Local governments can restrict the location of cannabis retail stores (through local zoning bylaw). Municipalities can restrict hours of operation, and impose conditions on signage.

The following are the local government requirements imposed by these cities:

City of Vancouver

• Municipal zoning requirements: retail location must be in a commercial zone and be at least 300 metres from schools, community centres, neighborhood houses, youth facilities that serve vulnerable youth, and other cannabis businesses.

• Have a municipal business licence and a municipal development permit

Burnaby

• Only government stores will receive municipal government approval.

Richmond

• No retail sale of cannabis within the City of Richmond.

City of North Vancouver

• Meet municipal zoning requirements: retail location must be zoned for: Mixed- Use Level 2, 3, 4A, 4B, or Harbourside Waterfront or Commercial land use. Retail locations must be at least 100 metres from public elementary and secondary schools, community and recreation centres, North Shore Neighborhood Houses, North Shore Shelters, North Vancouver School District Offices.

• A maximum of 6 retail stores will be allowed - 4 designated areas.

• Have a municipal business licence

District of North Vancouver

*Proposal stage. These are proposals as the District of North Vancouver has not finalized their policies for non-medical cannabis retail stores.

• Allow retail stores in zones that allow liquor stores, with a 200 metre buffer around elementary and high schools

• Require district to consult with residents in the vicinity of proposed cannabis store

• Restrict business hours to 9am – 9pm

West Vancouver

• No retail sale of cannabis within the District of West Vancouver

Surrey

• No regulations are in place yet

Coquitlam

• No regulations are in place yet