Cannabis Legalization Info for Small Business

Once Bill C-45 comes into force, B.C. consumers aged 19 and up will be able to purchase Cannabis legally. There will be two methods of purchasing cannabis: in stores, through provincially controlled or licensed retailers; or online, directly from a federally or provincially operated online platform.

Cannabis legalization will allow consumers to purchase the following five cannabis products:

  • Dried Cannabis
  • Cannabis Oil
  • Fresh Cannabis
  • Cannabis Plants
  • Cannabis Seeds

Under the current plan, the sales of edibles and concentrates will be enabled within one year following the coming into force of the Cannabis Act.

Distribution in British Columbia

British Columbia announced its distribution model in December 2017. The minimum legal age to purchase cannabis in our province has been set at 19. Consumers can buy legal cannabis in private and public stores. Mirroring the current model for alcohol distribution, wholesale will be handled by the provincial government through the province’s Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB). It is currently unclear whether online sales will be done through public or private sellers or a mix.

Municipalities and Cannabis Legalization

Please note, municipalities retain the right to have different requirements and zoning restrictions for business licensing. Some municipalities may even choose not to allow retail cannabis stores within their limits. Different B.C. cities have announced a variety of different approaches to cannabis legalization.

Opportunities in the Cannabis Industry


The production of recreational cannabis will be delegated through licensed producers. These licenses are issued by Health Canada. It will remain illegal to produce cannabis for sale without first securing a license.

Entrepreneurs with questions about procuring a license should contact Health Canada.

Retail Licenses

In spring 2018, British Columbia’s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch will launch an online application portal for individuals and businesses interested in applying for a recreational cannabis retail license. This portal can be found here.

Each applicant will be required to pay an application fee and a licensing fee. The amount of this fee has not yet been determined. All applicants will be assessed using the same evaluation criteria, including background checks and local government support. Persons who have operated dispensaries prior to legalization will not receive preferential treatment during the application process.

British Columbia Announces Provincial Cannabis Legislation

British Columbia has formally announced legislation to provide for legal, controlled access to non-medical cannabis in British Columbia. The proposed Cannabis Distribution Act (CDA) will establish the Province’s exclusive jurisdiction over wholesale distribution of cannabis and provide authority for public retail sales.

The proposed Cannabis Control and Licensing Act (CCLA) establishes provincial control over the sale, supply and possession of non-medical cannabis, and establishes licensing of private cannabis retailers, including registration and training requirements for those who will work in cannabis retail. The act outlines restrictions on the possession, personal cultivation and consumption of cannabis by adults and prohibitions for minors.

The Province of British Columbia’s announcement can be read here.

Want to Learn More about Cannabis Legalization?

The Province of British Columbia have produced the B.C. Cannabis Private Retail Licensing Guide that answers commonly asked questions about retail licenses and how they’ll be distributed. The province’s consultation process with the public took place over several months during 2017 and the results can be viewed here. If your question is not answered in these documents, the relevant provincial contact can be reached via this email address.

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