Cannabis and British Columbia

Cannabis British Columbia

In response to the Canada-wide legalization of non-medical cannabis, the Province of British Columbia has created legislation to allow for the safe, legal and controlled access to non-medical cannabis throughout the Province. Included in this legislation are guidelines and regulations that non-medical cannabis business owners must adhere to operate their business in the Province of British Columbia.

Online Sales (private or government)

Non-medical cannabis is not permitted to be sold online. However, if a website is equipped with an age verification tool, cannabis accessories and gift cards would be allowed to be sold online to adults only.

Retail Sales (private or government)

Before the Province issues a licence to a non-medical cannabis retail store, a positive recommendation and input must be obtained from the local government where the store is proposed to be situated. Any cannabis retailers are required to be a standalone business.

The Province will accept applications for regular retail licences, in order to get a picture of the regional distribution of where non-medical cannabis retailers are located. After this is determined, rural and remote areas will be evaluated for licence consideration.

Application for licensing in British Columbia

All applications for non-medical cannabis retailer licences must be submitted to the LCRB(Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch) for review. Once an application is received, the local government for the proposed retail location will be notified.

Local governments have two ways of responding:

  1. Not make any recommendation. This response would end the application process, as the LCRB must receive a positive recommendation from the local government before a non-medical cannabis retail store licence can be issued.
  2. Make comments and recommendations. In order to make comments or recommendations on an application, it is required to gather the views of local residents. If the local government recommends denying the application, a licence cannot be issued by the LCRB. If a recommendation is made for the approval of a licence, the LCRB may still use its judgment to approve or deny the licence, although they must also take into consideration the recommendations made by the local government.

Regulatory powers held by local governments include:

  • Enforcing zoning bylaws that restrict where a cannabis retail store may be located
  • Municipalities are able to impose restrictions, such as limiting operating hours and specifications regarding signage
  • Charging fees for applicants to assess their applications

All of these regulatory powers apply to new applications, as well as any existing retailers looking to relocate.

Federal government licensing and information

Under The Cannabis Act, each Province and Territory is responsible for making determinations and setting rules in their jurisdictions around how cannabis is sold, where stores can be located and how those stores are operated. Click here to see BC’s act.

Individual Requirements for business owners

Along with their licence application, applicants are required to submit a floor plan for approval by the LCRB. There are certain restrictions for store design and layout that store owners must follow including:

  • Non-medical cannabis or cannabis accessories are not permitted to be visible from the outside of the store.
  • Products cannot be accessible to customers, and customers are not allowed to serve themselves, which also includes dispensing devices.
  • Any shared common areas of the store cannot have advertisements or displays, and must have full floor to ceiling, non-transparent walls that separate the common area from the store and make any product not visible.

Licenced store owners are also obliged to:

  • Abide by any regulations and terms connected to their licence.
  • Post their retail licence in a readily visible area in the store that is readily available for inspectors. Approved floor plans also need to be immediately available, although it’s not required that they are posted.
  • Permit peace officers and Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch inspectors to inspect their store without impediment.
  • Provide the peace officer or inspector with information or any other item as requested.
  • In no way bring attention to any inspectors or peace officers conducting an inspection, as this can potentially put the inspector in danger.

Licence Renewal

It’s required that licensees renew annually before the expiry date listed on their licence and pay the annual licensing fee. This renewal must be completed every year through the LCRB, regardless of any other requests happening at the same time, such as a transfer of ownership.

Making Changes to the Licence

Because licences are granted based on the details of an application, if any changes are being made to the original information given in that application, the LCRB must be made aware.

Some changes require prior approval by the LCRB before they can be made. Other changes must simply be reported within 10 days of the change occurring. The LCRB can advise as to which changes require prior approval.

Incorporation Federal or Provincial

If you are looking to complete an incorporation for your non-medical cannabis business in British Columbia, you can choose between a British Columbia Incorporation or Federal Incorporation.

British Columbia Incorporation

  • Incorporation provides name protection for the exact business name registered within the Province of British Columbia
  • Non-residents of Canada are eligible to be sole directors
  • Annual return filing due yearly to keep the corporation active
  • Processing is on a 5, 3 or same-day basis
  • Assets are kept separate from business risks and liabilities to maintain personal liability protection 
  • Cost on average range from $550.00 to $700.00

British Columbia Incorporation

Federal Incorporation

  • Incorporation provides the highest amount of name protection, outside of a trade mark, throughout Canada
  • Unique business names are required to get name approval, as business names are reviewed and approved or declined by Federal examiners 
  • Any use of acronyms or general wording are refused for the most part
  • Processing takes 1 to 2 business days
  • Assets are kept separate from business risks and liabilities to maintain personal liability protection 
  • Cost on average range from $450.00 to $550.00

Get Started on Your Federal Incorporation

Ontario Business Central Inc., has been assisting clients to register for 25+ years. If we can be of assistance, or if you have any questions about this service, please feel free to reach out to our staff for any clarification or assistance you may require.
Toll-Free: 1-800-280-1913
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Ontario Business Central Inc. is not a law firm and cannot provide a legal opinion or advice. This information is to assist you in understanding the requirements of registration within the chosen jurisdiction. It is always recommended, when you have legal or accounting questions that you speak to a qualified professional.