Canada is the only G7 country in the world to legalize recreational (adult-use) cannabis on a federal level.
Under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s leadership and campaign promises, Canada has officially passed Bill C-45 (Cannabis Act) which allows for the cultivation and retail sales of cannabis for recreational purposes. The retail and distribution of recreational cannabis is within the provincial (not federal) jurisdictions, which means that each province has a different framework for licensing retailers.
It should be noted that the Cannabis Regulations allows for the cultivation, processing and sale of both medical and recreational cannabis. However, medical cannabis is still only available within a direct-to-consumer business model, and Canadians wishing to purchase cannabis for medical purposes still require forms from their health practitioner. In contrast, recreational product will be sold both online and at physical retail locations across Canada, and any Canadian of minimum age (per province) can purchase recreational cannabis by simply walking into a retail store. (It may also be noted that the federal government and various provincial colleges of pharmacy are advancing discussions around allowing pharmacies to sell medical cannabis, but this may not happen until 2019-2020.)
Cannabis Compliance Inc. provides strategic planning, application support, staff training and recruiting services to retail entrepreneurs within the cannabis space. It should be noted that not all provinces allow for private retail stores (Quebec), and instead the provincial governments are the only operators. However, many provinces particularly in western Canada are accepting applications for private enterprises to retail recreational cannabis. The following pages provide an overview of the retail environment in each province across Canada.
The following Canadian provinces/territories are following a Crown Corporation model where the province owns both the distribution and the retail stores: Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and the Northwest Territories. Because these provinces will control their own retail environment, we will not devote sections on our website to these and will therefore only discuss provinces that are allowing private retail enterprises in some capacity. However, it should also be noted that the following provinces will license private retailers in addition to launching some of their own provincial cannabis stores: British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon and Nunavut. The following provinces will not have any provincial government stores: Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
(Note that the announcement about Ontario private retail was recently made on August 13, 2018, which is a departure from the previous Ontario government model. According to news sources, the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) will be the only entity selling recreational cannabis for the foreseeable year, and only through its online website (no physical stores). Applications for private retail sales are anticipated to start in the summer of 2019.)
Note that while the federal government has mandated the minimum age of 18 for purchasing recreational cannabis, all provinces have set a higher minimum at 19 years old except for Quebec and Alberta where the minimum age is 18 years old. It should also be noted that private retailers will be required to purchase all cannabis inventory from their provincial government distributor, which varies from province to province. The only exception is Saskatchewan which will allow for private companies to distribute cannabis to Saskatchewan retailers.
Online sales of recreational cannabis are also permitted, but all provinces except for Manitoba and Saskatchewan, will have online sales performed by the provincial government.