Registrar's Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores

Introduction

The Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 (CLA) and Regulation 468/18 provide the Registrar with authority to establish standards and requirements in the following areas:

  • store premises, equipment and facilities, including surveillance and security
  • the prevention of unlawful activities
  • advertising and promotional activities
  • training related to the responsible use and sale of cannabis
  • the protection of assets
  • record-keeping and measures to maintain confidentiality and security of records
  • compliance with the federal cannabis tracking system.

These Standards are outlined in the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores. Licensees are required to comply with the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores, as well as all applicable laws and regulations, including the Cannabis Control Act, 2017 (CCA), the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 (CLA), and Ontario Regulation 468/18.

The objective of a standards-based regulatory model is to shift the focus from requiring licensees to comply with a specific set of rules or processes, toward the broader regulatory outcome or objectives they are expected to achieve. Since there may be many ways for a licensee to meet the Standards, licensees have the flexibility to determine what works best for their business, thereby strengthening regulatory outcomes without needlessly burdening regulated entities.

Holders of a Retail Operator Licence are responsible for meeting all Standards. Where not specified otherwise, Standards also apply to holders of a Retail Manager Licence.

The Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores will be reviewed and revised on a regular basis to ensure that they are effective in mitigating risks as the cannabis retail sector matures.

General Standards

  1. Licensees must ensure that all employees act in accordance with the law and demonstrate honesty and integrity.

    Requirements - At a minimum:

    1. licensees must obtain criminal background checks from employees as part of the hiring process
    2. licensees must ensure that all employees understand their obligations with respect to applicable laws, regulations, standards, and policies
    3. licensees must ensure that all employees have completed any required training, including Board-approved training, prior to their first scheduled shift.
  1. Licensed Retail Operators must exercise oversight of their retail operations. 
  2. Licensed Retail Operators (if also performing the duties of a Retail Manager) or licensed Retail Managers may only be accountable for one authorized store.
  3. A copy of the Retail Manager Licence must be kept at the store, and made available to AGCO inspectors or investigators upon request.
  4. The retail store’s operating name must be the same as the name set out on the retail store authorization.
  5. A Licensed Retail Operator must submit the following changes to the Registrar within a reasonable time:
    1. if a person ceases to be a director or officer of a Licensed Retail Operator that is a corporation or a corporation that effectively controls the business
    2. if a person ceases to be a partner of a partnership in which the Licensed Retail Operator is also a partner.
  1. A Licensed Retail Operator must submit, within a reasonable time, the following changes to the Registrar for approval:
    1. a person becomes a director or officer of a Licensed Retail Operator that is a corporation or a corporation that effectively controls the business
    2. a person becomes a partner of a partnership in which the Licensed Retail Operator is also a partner
    3. a person or partnership acquires a beneficial interest in the Licensed Retail Operator’s business, including holding or controlling shares of a holder that is a corporation or in a corporation that effectively controls the business
    4. a person or a partnership other than the Licensed Retail Operator becomes entitled to any of the profits from the sale of cannabis or cannabis accessories, or liable for any obligations incurred from the sale of cannabis or cannabis accessories, at any cannabis retail store for which the Licensed Retail Operator holds a retail store authorization.

Physical Store Requirements

  1. A secure, high-resolution surveillance system must be in place at all times.

Requirements - At a minimum:

  1. cameras and lighting must be positioned to clearly capture 24 hour coverage of the interior of the premises and immediately outside the premises, including the:
    1. Entrances and exits, including where IDs are checked;
    2. Point of sale area(s);
    3. Receiving area(s);
    4. Sales floor area(s); and
    5. Cannabis storage area(s).
  2. video recordings must be made and retained for a minimum of 30 days and be made available to the AGCO upon request
  3. the Licensee must ensure that the surveillance system is functioning properly at all times.
  1. All cannabis must be stored securely at all times and be accessible only by staff from receipt of product to point of sale, destruction, or return to the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC) or the Licensed Producer.
  2. Any cannabis that is outdated, recalled, damaged, deteriorated, misbranded, adulterated, returned, or otherwise ineligible to be sold must be kept separate from other cannabis.
  3. All points of access to the premises must be secure and protected against unauthorized access.
  4. Licensees must ensure that cannabis and accessories are not visible from the exterior of the premises.
  5. Licensees may use sensory display containers to allow patrons to see and smell cannabis.  Sensory display containers must be locked and tamper-proof to prevent patrons from touching the cannabis, and must not be able to be removed from the premises.
  6. The cannabis used in the sensory display containers must be purchased by the Licensed Retail Operator from the retail store’s inventory through the point-of-sale system.

Destruction of Cannabis

  1. Cannabis that is ineligible to be sold and ineligible for return to the OCRC must be destroyed or rendered unusable through a method that :
    1. complies with all applicable federal, provincial and municipal laws and regulations, including environmental protection legislation applicable to the location where it is being destroyed
    2. does not result in any individual being exposed to cannabis smoke or cannabis vapour.
  1. If carried out by the Licensee, the entire cannabis destruction process must be captured on the premises’ surveillance system, and must be overseen by a Licensed Manager or Licensed Retail Operator.
  2. Destruction of cannabis that is ineligible for sale must be performed on a monthly basis, at a minimum.

Secure Transportation

  1. In the event of a product recall, Licensees must ensure that all product recalled is transported securely to the Licensed Producer, and must ensure that records are kept of all product returned.
  2. If a Licensed Retail Operator holds more than one Retail Store Authorization, cannabis may be transferred between their retail stores.  Licensees must ensure that the transportation of cannabis is secure, and must maintain records of all movements of cannabis between stores. At each store, the Licensed Retail Manager or Licensed Retail Operator must supervise and document the transfer process.

Minors and Prohibited Individuals

  1. Licensees must take reasonable measures to ensure that patrons are not purchasing cannabis or cannabis accessories on behalf of individuals under the age of 19.

Advertising and Promotions

  1. Licensees must have signage clearly identifying their business on the exterior of the authorized store.
  2. Language and images on exterior signage may not:
    1. communicate information about the price or distribution of cannabis or cannabis accessories
    2. appeal to young persons
    3. contain testimonials or endorsements
    4. depict a person, character, or animal, whether real or fictional
    5. present cannabis or a cannabis accessory in a manner that associates it with or evokes a positive or negative emotion or image of a way of life such as one that includes glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk, or daring
    6. promote cannabis or cannabis accessories in a way that is false, misleading, or deceptive
    7. be associated with medicine, health, or pharmaceuticals
    8. associate consumption of cannabis with driving a motorized vehicle, or with any activity that requires care and skill or has elements of danger.
  1. Licensees may promote cannabis and cannabis accessories within the store only under the following circumstances:
    1. the promotion is limited to factual information about:
      1. cannabis or a cannabis accessory and its characteristics
      2. a service related to cannabis
      3. the availability or price of cannabis, cannabis accessories, or a service related to cannabis.
    2. the promotion focuses on brand characteristics of cannabis or cannabis accessories.
    1. Licensees may not provide cannabis or cannabis accessories free of charge or provide any other thing or benefit, including a discounted price, as an inducement for the purchase of cannabis or a cannabis accessory.
    2. Licensees may not accept or request material inducements from Licensed Producers, their representatives, or suppliers of cannabis accessories.

    Responsible Use

    1. Licensees must ensure that information related to the responsible use of cannabis is made available to patrons.

    Requirements - At a minimum:

    1. licensees must make the Health Canada Consumer Information – Cannabis document available to patrons; and
    2. any other information prescribed by the Registrar.

    Record Keeping Requirements

    1. Licensees must ensure that the following records are maintained, retained a minimum of  three (3) years, or longer as may be required by other laws and regulations, and made available upon request by the AGCO:
    1. employee records, including names, addresses, primary job responsibilities, shift schedules, training records, CPIC records check results, and dates of employment
    2. records for all cannabis in the authorized store, including cannabis purchased directly from the OCRC and cannabis transferred from another authorized retail store operated by the Licensed Operator.  At a minimum, these records must contain information regarding:
    1. the cannabis purchased and received by the Licensee for sale in the authorized store
    2. any cannabis returned to the OCRC or Licensed Producers
    3. each sale transaction at the authorized store, traceable to the employee level
    4. any cannabis that has been destroyed.  Records of any cannabis destroyed must include, at a minimum:
    1. the name and address of the authorized retail cannabis store
    2. the time and date of the destruction
    3. the name of the individual conducting the destruction, if being carried out by the licensee, or the company, if being contracted to a third party 
    4. a certificate of destruction, if destruction is carried out by a third party
    5. the product category and SKU
    6. the amount of product
    7. the reason for the destruction of the cannabis product
    8. the method of destruction.
    1. records required to enable the licensee to participate in any national cannabis tracking system established under section 81 of the federal Cannabis Act
    2. records that may be required to support a cannabis product recall
    3. records demonstrating that the Licensee is complying with sections 7 and 8 of the Cannabis Control Act, 2017, which prohibit sales to persons under 19 years of age and persons who are or appear to be intoxicated.
    4. licensees must maintain records of the cannabis used for display purposes.  These records must account for the product after it is no longer on display.
    1. Licensees must complete full physical inventory counts of all cannabis on a weekly basis at a minimum or upon the request of AGCO.

    A log of the inventory results must be maintained and all discrepancies must be reported to AGCO as soon as possible.

    1. Licensees must ensure that there are reasonable safeguards around data security and protection of data integrity.
    2. Point of Sales systems must be certified by a recognized industry certification body or organization (e.g. PCI, ISO) and have logging capability for the purposes of monitoring all system access and system changes.
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