Fasten your seatbelts because if you reside in Ontario and want to be a part of this new booming business, the experience is just getting started!.  And learning how to get a dispensary license in Ontario should be your top concern at the moment.

Cannabis, otherwise known as marijuana, is a plant that has attracted the attention of higher authorities. This drug's potency has given it a high profile in both recreational and medical settings.

You must have a marijuana license from the state government to sell it or use it for any reason. In this article, we are going to learn how to get a dispensary license in Ontario.

What are the current marijuana laws in Ontario?

Before you involve yourself with cannabis in Ontario, you must know the law guiding its use. The general law states that you must be at least 19 years of age to be able to use or handle marijuana. Let's look into the laws guiding where you should take marijuana and where you should not.

You can take marijuana in the following places according to the marijuana law in Ontario:


  • You can have marijuana in private properties.
  • You are free to enjoy cannabis in public places, but it must not be close to a hospital, school, or care center.
  • You can have cannabis in specifically allocated places in hotels and motels.
  • You can have cannabis in some research facilities.


Some of the places you should not be found smoking marijuana in Ontario include:


  • Schools: Smoking marijuana in areas close to learning facilities or other places where children commonly gather is against marijuana law in Ontario.
  • Hospitals and care facilities: You should strictly avoid vaping or smoking marijuana near hospitals, care homes, and other care facilities.
  • Restaurants and bars: Avoid smoking marijuana in places close to restaurants, bars, or governmental buildings.
  • Recreational facilities: Again, you should not vape or smoke marijuana at entertainment venues, recreational facilities, and parks.
  • Crowded areas: In a nutshell, avoid smoking marijuana in any place where there is a crowd.



What happens when someone breaks the cannabis law?

Heavy penalties and a brief stay in prison could be the typical punishment. When you break the cannabis rules, you will be fined or charged, and this may ruin your chances of getting a marijuana license.


Who can use it?

If you are at least 19 years old in Ontario, you can vape or smoke marijuana. It means you can purchase and possess marijuana. Patients can use marijuana for medical purposes but they must follow a healthcare practitioner's guidelines.


Who can buy it?

The first requirement in Ontario is that you must be at least 19 years old to possess marijuana. You can buy cannabis online at the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS.ca) or in-person at privately owned and licensed cannabis shops. If you acquire marijuana elsewhere, you might face fines of up to $100,000 with a year in prison.


Who can sell it?

You can sell marijuana in Ontario only if you have the retail operator license and a retail authorization for the locations you plan on setting up a cannabis store.

marijuana licenses

What are the different types of marijuana licenses?

Growers license, retail license, and transporter license are examples of the different types of marijuana licenses. Growing and marketing marijuana to retail firms, for example, may have different licensing and permits than operating a dispensary. Before applying for a marijuana license in Ontario, you must be at least 19 years old.


In Canada's largest recreational marijuana market, the number of store licenses awarded each week by the cannabis retail authority is rapidly increasing. Many individuals want to take part in the new trendy business that has been making news since it was authorized by the government. The cannabis industry has seen a substantial boom and, even at the new monthly rate of 120 store authorizations, the present license backlog will take at least another year to clear.


The state decides who can cultivate or sell marijuana and under what restrictions. The licensing and documentation requirements for your cannabis business will be determined by your goals.


Marijuana growers license.

A producer who has a marijuana grower license can cultivate, dry, trim, cure, and package marijuana for delivery to a processing or provisioning facility. It is also possible to obtain a second marijuana-growing license. With this license, you can have up to five stacking class C marijuana licenses. A primary carer, on the other hand, cannot be a grower.

Marijuana can be grown for recreational or medical use. Let's look into the order in which these plants are grown for these two purposes.


  • Class A recreational marijuana growers can only cultivate 100 plants.
  • Class A medical growers can grow up to 500 plants.
  • Class B recreational growers can grow up to 500 plants.
  • Class B medical growers are authorized to grow up to 1,000 plants.
  • Class C recreational growers can grow up to 2,000 plants.
  • Class C medical growers can grow up to 1,500 plants.

Marijuana retail license.

A marijuana retail license gives you the right to sell marijuana to the public in Ontario. The AGCO may demand two permits and authorizations to open a retail outlet and sell recreational cannabis.


  • License for Retailers
  • Authorization for Retail Stores
  • License for Cannabis Retail Managers


Under the Cannabis Licence Act of 2018 and its accompanying rules, all candidates must meet all of the eligibility requirements. The guidelines that govern marijuana retailers are as follows:


  • You must be over 19 years of age and have not been convicted for any crimes or had any connections with criminal organizations.
  • You must comply with the existing laws of the state.
  • You must be an active taxpayer.
  • You must hire a manager that has a retail manager license.
  • You must always recommend a retail shop location that meets the school proximity standards throughout the application process. [The distance between a proposed retail company and a school or private school is calculated using a straight line.]
  • Your cannabis business and any other enterprises must be kept separate.
  • Furthermore, no other business or the general public should be able to access the area where cannabis will be received or stored.

Marijuana transporter license.

Only approved carriers are allowed to transport medical marijuana or medical marijuana products between licensed companies. A grower, processor, provisioning center, or safety compliance facility must not be owned by the applicant or any investor with a stake in the secure carrier. To qualify for a secure transporter license, they must not be a registered patient or a registered primary caregiver.

How much does a dispensary license cost in Ontario?

The pricing for the three types of retail licenses ranges from $750 to $7000, depending on the license.

The number of store awards given out by the cannabis retail authority each week is constantly rising, and it doesn't appear to be going to slow down anytime soon. Many people in Ontario want to be a part of the new trendy business that has been generating headlines in the economy since it was legalized by the government.

As a result, the cannabis business has experienced a significant uptick. Again, the current license backlog will take at least another year to clear, even at the new monthly rate of 120 store authorizations. It is up to the state authorities to license whoever they deem right to cultivate or sell marijuana and under what conditions.

Your aims will determine the license and documentation requirements for your cannabis business. For example, growing marijuana for retail enterprises may require different permits and licenses than operating a store. Furthermore, the prices of different licenses differ.

  • Retail Operator Licence: $6,000 for a two-year term, plus a $2,000 renewal fee, or $4,000 for a four-year term, plus a $4,000 renewal fee.
  • Retail Store Authorization: $4,000 for a two-year term with a renewal cost of $3,500, or $7,000 for a four-year term with a renewal price of $7,000.
  • Cannabis Retail Manager License: $750 for a two-year license with a $500 renewal fee or $1,000 for a four-year license with a $1,000 renewal fee.


After submitting or receiving a Retail Operator Licence application, you can go on to the Retail Store Authorization process. You'll need confirmation of ownership/tenancy, as well as the registration of your business name (if applicable).

license in ontario


How do I get a dispensary license in Ontario?

If you are ready to open a dispensary, the first place to start would be with the license.  Typically acquiring a dispensary license in Ontario can be broken down into 3 steps: 

Step 1 

To get a dispensary license in Ontario, you must become familiar with the relevant federal, provincial, territorial, municipal, and indigenous government legislation.

You can learn more about them in Section 5.1 of the Cannabis Licensing Application Guide. It will help you meet the requirements and decide which license type to apply for in Ontario. 

Step 2 

Sign up for a CTLS account. The Cannabis Tracking and Licensing System has been designed by Health Canada as the primary method for submitting licensing applications. Prospective applicants should read the Cannabis Licensing Application Guide and the CTLS Getting Started Guide thoroughly before creating an account.

Step 3 

Prepare to submit an application—you can choose to apply for a license online. Health Canada examines all applications extensively against the application standards, and licenses are only issued if all applicable requirements meet the necessary standard.

You will not be able to apply if you do not include all of the prerequisites in your CTLS application.  Upon submission, applications undergo an initial screening for completeness and clarity.

If your application passes the first screening, Health Canada will also conduct full security clearances. Because of the high volume of cannabis license applications and the lengthy review process, you can expect your application to take some time to begin active assessment after it is accepted. 


What’s next? 

Now that you understand how to get a dispensary license in Ontario. you can go ahead and check the criteria available to own a dispensary as you continue on your journey to open an awesome dispensary!

The next steps vary, however we created a helpful guide on how to open a dispensary that covers all the steps you will need to take from licensing, to shopfitting, to software and even management and marketing!

Get the guide below!

how to open a dispensary in ontario