Cannabis/Marijuana Retail Legalities

When Will Cannabis Be Legal?

The long insisted target of July 1, 2018 by the Trudeau government to legalize recreational cannabis/marijuana won’t be fulfilled. Chalk it up to politics. The new law won’t be in place by the proposed timeline because the Canadian Senate decided the legislation that will make recreational weed legal, requires more study and more improvements, and so ultimately, more time is necessary. The date for legalization for recreation cannabis (Bill C45) is October 17, 2018.

Why the delay? We break it down for you. It depends on two things:

First, the Canadian Senate has to approve Bill C-45 (the Legalization of Cannabis Bill), and it is unlikely that it will be approved before the end of May. In fact, the Senate agreed to hold a final vote on or before June 7. Laws do not usually come into force until a month or two after they are finally passed by the Senate.

Reports indicate some skeptical senators still have concerns such as, the legislation will:

  • Endanger youth
  • Increase smoking rates
  • Complicate the work of police officers
  • Lead to a backlog of court cases for possession offences
  • Do little to curb the black market sale of the drug

Second, according to the Honourable Genette Petitpas Taylor, federal Minister of Health, “there is going to be a transition period because we have to ensure that provinces and territories have the capacity to get the products in their shops.” She furthered reiterated that “legal cannabis will go on sale in all provinces and territories at the same time.” Therefore, that suggests if just one of them requires the full 12 weeks to get ready, they’ll all have to wait.

Ottawa now says it will give the industry up to three months to adapt to strict packaging rules and legally ship their products to provincially regulated stores. This new timeline means adults will not be able to purchase marijuana for recreational purposes immediately after Bill C-45 is adopted in Parliament. It’s “coming into force” will almost certainly be delayed for two-to-three months after it is finally passed.

Canada Day Won’t Be Cannabis Day

Sharp Business Plans made a prediction in early March 2018 that cannabis would be legalized in Canada by Monday, September 17. We were off by one month! When Trudeau stated that cannabis would be legal in Canada in the “summer of 2018” we calculated our theory as such: the official start of fall is September 23, and September 17 is an entire week before the end of summer. It’s not scientific; it’s just our best guess. I think it was a good guess, but October 17 is the actual date.

Provincial Retail/Wholesale/Online Rules

Province Distributor Retail Online
BC Public – BCLDB Public + Private Public
AB Public – AGLC + Private Private Public
SK Private Private Private
MB Public – LGCA + Private Private Private
ON Public – OCRC Public Public
QC Public – SAQ Public Public
NB Public – CMC Public Public
NL Public – NLLC Private Public
NS Public – NSLC Public Public
PE Public – PEILCC Public Public
YK / YT Public – YLC Public, then Private Public
NT Public – NWTLC Public Public
NU Public – NULC Public + private Public

Business Summary

If you want to get into the legal marijuana business in Canada, you can either apply as a Licensed Producer under the ACMPR, or apply for a retail cannabis license in BC, AB, SK, MB or one of the other provinces that allow retail applications. The rules for private distribution seem very unclear, even in those few provinces that seem to allow it.

The provinces that appear to approve online sales of cannabis or cannabis websites also seem to require that you first must have a “regular” retail cannabis license.

Cannabis Business Plan

In most every business, you should have a business plan before starting the business. In the cannabis industry, it is almost mandatory to have a written business plan. Every province that is permitting private retail cannabis stores (dispensaries) will be allowing individual municipalities to set their own zoning rules or even allow them to ban a cannabis dispensary. So, you have to get the municipality and the local businesses and residents on your side.

One of the best ways to get people on your side is to have a business plan that demonstrates that you will be an ideal “corporate citizen.” A good business plan for a dispensary or retail cannabis store will show the procedures that you will follow and the processes that you will have in place position you as a good neighbour, bringing the right type of people into the neighbourhood and adding value to the community.

If you have any questions about cannabis private retail licensing in Canada, or Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) or want more information on how we can help prepare a cannabis business plan for you, call us toll-free at +1 (800) 661-9842 and contact us today for a free consultation.