Apply for a retail store authorization

Learn how to apply for a retail store authorization.

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You can apply for, manage and renew your Retail store authorization online through iAGCO.


2-year term: $4,000.
2-year renewal term: $3,500. 
4-year renewal term: $7,000.

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Need help? Contact us now by email or telephone. 


To operate a retail store and sell cannabis, you must apply for a retail store authorization. To get authorized, you must meet certain conditions.

You must have a lease for the store or own it.  

Your retail store must be located in a municipality that allows cannabis retail stores. You can check this list of municipalities that have decided not to allow cannabis retail stores. We recommend working with the municipality where you plan to operate.

Your retail store needs to be at least 150 metres away from a school (public or private). The 150 metre measurement may take into account the vertical distance. If the school is the primary or only occupant of a building, your store needs to be at least 150 meters from the school’s property line. If the school isn’t the major or sole occupant of a building, your store needs to be at least 150 metres from the boundary of the space the school uses inside the building. These rules don’t apply if the school is on a reserve or if it only offers classes online classes. An AGCO eligibility officer will assess how close you are to a school before we process your application.


You must pay a fee when you first apply for a retail store authorization. You won’t get your money back if you withdraw your application, or if the AGCO refuses to issue the authorization for any reason.

We may also ask for additional fees if we must investigate.

Type of applicationFee (two-year term)Fee (four-year term)
New application$4,000N/A


Step 1: Prepare your application

Before you apply for a cannabis retail store authorization, you’ll need to provide the following information.

  1. Business name registration
    The business name you want to operate under might have to be registered under the Business Names Act. Contact Service Ontario for more information.
  2. Proof of ownership or tenancy
    You’ll need to provide proof of ownership or tenancy (lease agreement, property deed, or rental agreement).
  3. Agreements not disclosed on your retail operator licence
    See the Supplementary Questionnaire for more information.

We may also ask for more information or documents to determine your eligibility.

Step 2: Apply online

To get a retail store authorization, you’ll need to log in to the account you created on the iAGCO portal when you applied for your retail operator licence.  

You’ll also need to complete the public notice process and have a pre-authorization inspection as part of your evaluation.

Public notice

Your Retail store authorization needs public notice. The public notice for cannabis retail store authorization will follow this basic process.

Text version of cannabis retail store public notice infographic below

Text version cannabis retail store public notice graphic

  1. Applicant posts placard at the proposed store
    • 15-day public notice period begins
    • Store location is searchable on iAGCO
  2. Resident/municipality has 15 calendar days to make written submission(s) to the Registrar
  3. AGCO provides copies of written submission(s) received to applicant with the 15 calendar day requirement
  4. Applicant has 5 calendar days to respond from the time written submissions are sent to the applicant
  5. Registrar considers written submission(s) received within the 15 calendar day requirement
  6. Registrar considers all available information to make an authorization decision

After you’ve submitted your application for retail store authorization through iAGCO, we’ll determine the dates of the posting period (15 calendar days). We’ll email the public notice placard (in PDF format) to you. Both the English and French placards must be printed in colour and posted in several, highly visible places that are in full public view. 

Here’s an example of a public notice placard:

Example of public placard.

You must keep the placard posted for 15 calendar days.

An AGCO inspector may visit your store to ensure that the placard is correctly. Failure to post the placard correctly or for the entire 15 days could delay your application process. Learn more about the public notice process for new cannabis retail stores.  

The Registrar’s decision to issue or to refuse a cannabis retail store authorization is final. If you disagree with the decision, you can apply for a judicial review with the Superior Court of Justice. Learn more about the hearings and appeals process for cannabis.  

Pre-authorization inspection

The AGCO is required to inspect your store before issuing a retail store authorization. The AGCO inspector will check that your store meets all the requirements. During the pre-authorization inspection, AGCO inspectors will give you information about what you need to do under the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, its regulations and the Registrar’s standards. They will also address any questions or concerns you may have about selling cannabis.

Before you schedule an inspection, please ensure that you have:

  • received or applied for a retail operator licence and have the application file number or licence number ready
  • submitted the complete application, including supporting documents.  
  • paid all required fees  
  • reviewed information about what you need to do under the Registrar’s standards for cannabis retail stores, as well as all related laws and regulations
  • completed the pre-authorization inspection criteria

Pre-authorization criteria

An AGCO Inspector may visit your retail store to confirm that it meets specific requirements.

These include:

  1. Public notice process (CLA subsection 4 (7))
    You must post the placard for 15 calendar days. The placard period doesn’t need to be completed before you schedule an inspection.
  2. Location (AGCO application requirement)
    The address provided on the retail store authorization application must match the physical store address.
  3. Product visibility (AGCO Registrar Standard 2.5)
    Cannabis products and accessories can’t be visible from the outside of the store. During the pre-authorization inspection, you’ll have to show how you meet this requirement.  
  4. Video surveillance system (AGCO Registrar Standard 2.1)
    You must have a secure, high-resolution surveillance system in operation at all times. The inspector will verify that you have a video surveillance system where cameras and lighting are positioned to clearly capture 24-hour coverage of the inside of the store and right outside the store. This includes entrances and exits, pickup areas for online purchases, point of sale areas, receiving areas, sales floor areas and cannabis storage areas. Video recordings must be made and kept for at least 30 days. You’ll need to provide them to the AGCO if we ask.
  5. Storage (AGCO Registrar Standard 2.2)
    You must show that you’re always securely storing cannabis products. You’ll also have to show that products are only available to staff from the time the product arrives at the store to point of sale, destruction, or return to Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC) or the licensed producer.
  6. Other businesses (Ontario Regulation 468/18, section 9)
    Your store must be closed in and separated from any other business or activity in the building. It also must be inside. The store can’t be passed through to access another business, other than a common area of an enclosed shopping mall.
  7. Store management (CLA 5(1), CLA 25 (1), AGCO Registrar Standard 1.2 and 1.3)
    The store must be managed by either a licensed retail operator or a licensed retail manager. Licensed retail operators or retail managers can look after up to five stores at a time. You may be asked to provide your retail operator or retail manager licence.
  8. Preventing unauthorized access (AGCO Registrar Standard 2.4)
    All entry points to the store, including doors and windows, must be secure to keep out intruders.  
  9. Preventing entry of minors (Ontario Regulation 468/18 s. 20)
    You’ll need to describe what you’ll do to make sure anyone who looks under 25 years of age provides a valid piece of identification proving that they are at least 19 years of age before entering the store.
  10. Record keeping requirements (AGCO Registrar Standard 8.1)
    You must maintain and retain specific records for at least three years, including employee records, records for all cannabis products, any destroyed cannabis, monthly federal reports, and monthly sales reports accessible to the AGCO, among others.  

How to schedule a pre-authorization inspection

Once you’ve submitted your completed retail store authorization application and met the specific store conditions, contact the AGCO to indicate your readiness an inspection. An AGCO Inspector will then reach out to schedule an appointment. As the applicant, you must be present during the inspection.

Submitting your retail store authorization application does not automatically guarantee approval. The AGCO will thoroughly assess your application to ensure it meets all conditions based on the provided information and the inspection.  

Apply for an authorization now

Step 3: Wait for a decision

The AGCO will assess your application based on possible risks to public safety or public interest. If we have concerns, we may ask for more information.  We may also apply conditions to help manage risk. Learn more about risk-based licensing.

Processing time

When you apply for a cannabis retail store authorization, an AGCO person called an “eligibility officer” will review your application to make sure it’s complete.  

The AGCO reviews applications when we receive them. We try to process applications promptly. However, there might be delays if:

  • your application requires closer inspection
  • we need more information
  • you’re slow to respond to requests for clarification
  • you don’t provide us with the information or documents we’ve asked for
  • when you gain access to your proposed store to undergo public notice
  • how many written submissions we receive during public notice and the types of issues raised
  • the complexity of any third-party agreements
  • the number of interested parties
  • how long you take to build out your store to be ready for inspections
  • your proposed location is near a school

If the AGCO needs more information to finish your application, the eligibility officer will contact you. The AGCO will ask for more information in writing on iAGCO or by email. The note will explain what extra information the AGCO needs and how to provide it.

You can check the status of your application at any time. Because every application is unique, processing times can vary.  

If you feel that it’s taking too long to process your application, you can contact us on the iAGCO portal.  

  1. Sign into your account on iAGCO.  
  2. Under “ADDITIONAL OPTIONS”, select “Ask us a question” or “Submit a complaint”.
  3. Complete the form.

You can also reach us by telephone or email.  

Once you’ve met all eligibility and store specific requirements, the AGCO will issue a retail store authorization. We may include certain terms and conditions.

Know your responsibilities

As a licensee, you must meet the Registrar’s Standards for your registration. You must follow related laws and regulations, including the Cannabis Licence Act. You also must adhere to any Terms and Conditions.  

Make sure you understand all your responsibilities as a licensee. Read the resources available to help you better understand how to sell cannabis responsibly and stay in compliance.  

Retail store ongoing inspection

AGCO inspectors might visit your store at any time to make sure you’re complying with the rules and standards. You must allow the inspection. You can’t get in the way of the AGCO inspector, refuse to answer questions related to the inspection, or lie.  

When conducting an inspection, an AGCO Inspector might:

  • ask you for and look at records related to the inspection
  • take records away from the store to review, test or copy. In this case, the inspector will give you a receipt saying which records have been taken.
  • ask to look at the records the AGCO has previously taken 
  • return the records in a fair amount of time, unless the records can’t be returned because they’re being tested  
  • take photographs or other recordings
  • ask about financial transactions, records or other matters relevant to the inspection

If an inspector asks you for a record, you must provide it. You also must help the inspector understand the record or provide it in a readable form. AGCO Inspectors will also confirm the following:

  • Outdoor store signage (CA s. 18, AGCO Registrar Standard 6.1 and Standard 6.2)
    Signage must identify the business on the outside of the authorized store. Advertising can’t:
    • appeal to or target persons under 19 years of age
    • promote cannabis or cannabis accessories in a way that is false or misleading
    • suggest or imply that consuming cannabis can help people be happier, more successful, reach goals, or improve their lives
    • be associated with medicine, health, or pharmaceuticals
    • show or suggest the illegal sale of cannabis
    • associate using cannabis with driving a vehicle, or with any activity that requires care and skill, or has elements of danger    
  • Provincial seal of authorization (Ontario Regulation 468/18, section 19)
    You must put the provincial seal of authorization somewhere visible from outside the public entrance of the cannabis retail store. You’ll be able to download the seal once your retail store authorization application is approved.
  • Interior store signage (CA s. 17).
    You can promote cannabis and cannabis accessories within the store only if you:
    • limit it to facts about cannabis or an accessory and its features, services related to cannabis or pricing
    • focus on brand characteristics of cannabis or cannabis accessories
  • Storage (AGCO Registrar Standard 2.2)
    You must always store all products securely and only give staff access from when the product arrives at the store to point of sale, destruction, or return to OCRC or licensed producer.
  • Authorized products (CLA s. 18, Ontario Regulation 468/18 s. 18)
    You can only sell cannabis products that you buy from the OCRC and in the packaging that it came in. You don’t need to buy cannabis accessories and shopping bags from the OCRC.
  • Staff (CLA s. 23, CLA s. 5(4), Ontario Regulation 468/18 s. 21)
    All staff needs to be at least 19 years old. You must run criminal background checks as part of the hiring process, and make sure that all employees:
    • act in accordance with the law and demonstrate honesty and integrity
    • have completed any required training, including AGCO board approved CannSell training, before their first shift.    
  • AGCO authorization (Ontario Regulation 468/18, s. 13)
    You must show your retail store authorization somewhere in your store where people can see it.
  • Sensory display containers (Standard 2.6)
    You can use sensory display containers so that patrons can see and smell cannabis products. Display containers must be locked and tamper-proof to prevent patrons from touching the products. These products can’t be removed from the store.
  • Responsible use (AGCO Registrar Standard 7.1)
    You must provide information about using cannabis responsibly to patrons.  
  • Retail store staff education (Ontario Regulation 468/18, s.21)
    Retail store staff, you and your cannabis retail manager, must complete CannSell training prior to their first day of work.  

For more information about complying, please read the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and Ontario regulation 468/18.