how to open a dispensary in british columbia


How To Open A Dispensary In British Columbia?

British Columbia (B.C.) has made several decisions regarding the composition of its provincial regulatory system. B.C.’s main priorities are safeguarding youngsters, promoting health and safety, keeping criminals away from cannabis, maintaining safe roads, and fostering economic development.

The B.C. Cannabis Private Retail Licensing Guide, which describes applications and operations for people and groups thinking about applying for a provincial license to sell non-medicinal cannabis, was published by B.C. on February 5, 2018. The Province started a registration procedure for people and companies interested in applying for a cannabis retail license in the summer of 2018.

If you want to open a dispensary in British Columbia, go through this exhaustive guide on how to open a dispensary in British Columbia:

Can I Open a Recreational Dispensary in British Columbia Right Now?

After a shaky start, the cannabis retail industry in British Columbia has surged, with more than 200 licensed cannabis retail establishments now up for business.

In British Columbia, the cannabis retail sector is a mix of private and public.

The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch is in charge of issuing cannabis retail store licenses and supervising the actions of licensed operators, while the Liquor Distribution Branch is in charge of wholesale cannabis distribution and government-run retail stores.

Can I Sell Cannabis Online in BC?

Under the BC Cannabis Stores brand, the BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) is the province’s exclusive wholesale distributor of non-medical cannabis and runs standalone, public retail stores as well as the province’s only online portal.

How Much Can You Buy?

Adults aged 19 and above can buy up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or an equivalent amount of non-dried cannabis. The daily purchase limit for liquid products is 70 grams, 15 grams for edibles, 0.25 grams for concentrates, 5 grams for fresh cannabis, and one cannabis plant seed.

Current Cannabis Laws in British Columbia

In British Columbia, you must be 19 years old to buy, use, possess, or grow recreational cannabis. It will only be sold in government-run storefronts, licensed commercial sellers, dispensaries, and the British Columbia government’s online store.

How Much Cannabis Can an Adult in British Columbia Possess?

  • Adults 19 and older are currently able to purchase and possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or an equivalent of a non-dried marijuana product.
  • Individuals can purchase up to 70 grams of liquid product, 15 grams for edibles, 0.25 grams for concentrate, 5 grams for fresh cannabis, and 1 cannabis plant seed on a daily basis
  • Grow up to four mature plants for personal use, away from public view.

Tax Rates

A tax rate of 7% PST is charged on retail sales of cannabis products, such as:

  • Fresh or dried cannabis flowers, capsules, concentrates, or topical products
  • Cannabis seedlings
  • Cannabis products for household pets
  • Soap or bath products containing cannabis
  • Edible cannabis products.

Current Cannabis Market in British Columbia

The province of British Columbia has the third-largest population in Canada. According to the most recent monthly sales statistics from Statistics Canada, sales in November 2021 totaled C$47.8 million.

In October 2022, British Columbia ranked third among Canada’s legal adult-use cannabis markets in retail sales totaling 57.5 million Canadian dollars.

Types of Cannabis Licenses in British Columbia

Following are the types of cannabis licenses processed in British Columbia:

Cannabis Retail Store Licence

In British Columbia, recreational cannabis retail outlet licensees can sell non-medical cannabis and cannabis accessories. Know more about the license here.

Cannabis Marketing Licence

Marketers with a marketing licence can promote licensed federal cannabis producers’ products to licensed cannabis retail outlets and anyone over the age of 19. Know more about the license here.

License For Growing Cannabis

Adults will be allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants per household in B.C., but the plants must not be visible from public view, as proposed by the federal government. Home cultivation of recreational cannabis will be prohibited in daycare facilities.

Landlords and strata councils would also have the power to limit or prohibit home cultivation. Additionally, under the proposed Cannabis Act, all manufacturers of cannabis or cannabis products will need to be federally licensed to operate. Following the proposed Act’s entry into force, the Government of Canada will establish application processes and requirements for persons or businesses interested in becoming legal cannabis producers.

How to Get a License

Check Local Government Requirements

Evaluate the application’s and costs requirements, including:

  • Development permit
  • Business licensing

Review the Location Requirements

Learn about your location requirements, including:

  • Parcel identifier (PID)
  • Full street address
  • Property ownership or lease

The store must be a self-contained business.

You’ll need to check your local regulations for any specific location restrictions because the province has given local municipalities sole authority over zoning for non-medical cannabis retail stores. To ensure compliance with the rules, including a suitable distance from schools, bars, and other cannabis businesses, applicants must submit potential location information to the LCRB. A separate location must be established for all cannabis sales; you cannot sell cannabis in any already-existing liquor or tobacco stores.

Submit the Business Financial Integrity form

To complete the form, you will need

  • Names of shares and shareholders
  • Financial information
  • Tax information
  • Funding and debt information

Collect Physical Store Details

Your application must include:

  • Floor plan
  • Site plan
  • Photos of the store exterior
  • Proposed store name
  • Proposed signage
  • Storage

You are solely responsible for the suitability of your store’s name and branding.

Submit Provincial Licensing Application

All prospective BC cannabis retailers must apply through the website that has been established by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB). The province is processing an unlimited number of licenses, subject solely to local government regulations. You must be prepared to spend $7,500 for the application procedure as a prospective retailer, in addition to an ongoing $1,500 license renewal charge.

Municipal Licensing Approval Requirement

Municipal approval is also required for license applications. Local governments may choose to limit the number of licenses that are granted within their borders or may decide not to provide any non-medical retail licenses like West Vancouver did. In addition to the $7,500 provincial license, cannabis dealers must also pay a range of $100 in Kimberly to $33,000 in Vancouver for municipal business license fees. Anyone considering getting a license must take location into consideration, as well.

Gather Required Documents

You’ll need to submit different documentation depending on your business categorization.

The business types include:

  • Private corporation
  • Public corporation
  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Society or non-profit corporation
  • Indigenous nations

Upload Documents Online and Pay Fees

Submit your documents here.

Next steps

Evaluate Physical Security Requirements

You must have the following equipment

  • An intruder alarm system
  • A fire alarm
  • Locked retail product display cases and cannabis storage room
  • Protected perimeter door locks
  • Surveillance cameras with a full view of:
    • The retail area of your dispensary
    • Inventory storage area
    • Both the interior and exterior of all store entrances/exits

Schedule and Pass An Inspection

Review the terms and conditions here.

Check For Employee License Requirements

Municipal governments may have some business license requirements for employees. Find the details here.

Order Products

You must order all your cannabis products inventory from the Liquor Distribution Branch. But before you order, you must have a license to procure and sell cannabis.

Report Your Sales

The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch should be notified of your sales (LCRB). These reports are submitted to Health Canada for inclusion in the federal Cannabis Tracking System by the LCRB.

Licensing Prerequisites

  • The licensee must be at least 19 years old
  • Must be an independent business, such as:
    • Private corporation
    • Public corporation
    • Sole proprietorship
    • Partnership
    • Non-profit corporation
    • Local Government
    • An extra-provincial company that is registered in B.C.
    • Learn more about starting a business in B.C.
  • You must not be a federally licensed cannabis producer.
  • Being a citizen or resident of B.C. or Canada is not mandatory.

Training Module For Retailers

Employees who work at cannabis dispensaries must:

  • be at least 19 years old
  • have had their background verified by the province every two years.

Employees at dispensaries will be required to attend a provincial training program in the future, which is presently being developed.

British Columbia Dispensary Fees

Type of FeeAmount
Non-refundable Application Fee (includes security screening and financial integrity check)$7,500
Annual Licensing Fee$1,500

What Else Do You Need to Open a Dispensary in British Columbia?

Step 1

Understand Cannabis Laws In British Columbia

This is of prime importance. The cannabis industry runs on compliance. The regulations may vary from the federal government to local governments. You need to understand the rules to make sure you are compliant so that your license is not rejected by any chance.

Step 2

Design A Scalable Business Plan

A business plan is a must-have for anyone considering applying for a cannabis sales license. A good business plan is more than just a financial projection with some words thrown in for good measure. A solid business plan is written to assist the reader in approving the proposal included within it. Because cannabis has a high level of political sensitivity, a good cannabis business plan should reassure the reader by offering information that makes the strategic decision much easier. A solid business plan will have the following information:

Objective Statement

An objective statement should clearly identify your dispensary’s goals and include a business strategy for achieving them. It lays out exactly what you want to achieve in the short and long term.

If you’re searching for outside investment, this section can help you explain why you need the money, how the money will help your company expand, and how you plan to meet your growth goals. The idea is to give a detailed explanation of the possibility and how the loan or investment would help your business expand.

Business and Management Structure

Here, you’ll mention your dispensary’s legal structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation), as well as significant employees, managers, or other owners. It should also indicate the percentage of ownership held by each owner, as well as the level to which each owner is involved in the business.

Market Analysis

Make certain you demonstrate to the authorities that you have done your homework well. Essentially, market research aids in the understanding of customer requirements so that you may provide a product or service that is tailored to their needs. You’ll need to offer details on your target market, customer demographics, competition, and distribution methods.

Competitive Analysis

A detailed competitive analysis clearly defines a comparison of your organization to your competitors and must also be included in your business strategy. Outline the weaknesses and strengths of your competitors, as well as how you expect your dispensary to compare to these. This section should also highlight any market advantages your competitors have and how you aim to differentiate your dispensary. You should also explain how your business differs from other dispensaries in the industry, as well as any potential problems you may encounter when entering the market if applicable.

Financial Projection

The financial section of your business plan should include information on how you expect to generate revenue and how much money you’ll need to get started. Your financial statements, an analysis of these figures, and a cash flow estimate should all be included.

Products and Services Description

Use this part to go through the specifics of the items and services your business provides. Include any pertinent information regarding your products and services, such as how they will be manufactured, how long they will last, what needs they will satisfy, and how much they will cost to develop.

Step 3

Pick Your Best Team

Recruiting a winning team should be a key priority for any dispensary that wants to succeed. If an organization’s staff isn’t chosen carefully, it won’t be able to function effectively. Therefore, choosing a winning team is of prime importance.  

Step 4

Strategic Location Is Important

Proof of local consent, which includes approval of your planned physical location, is a crucial element of BC’s cannabis retail license application. 

The province has also delegated zoning for recreational cannabis dispensaries to local governments, so check your local ordinances for precise location restrictions. There could be distance requirements from schools, churches, or other cannabis retailers.

Step 5

IT Integration With Top Technology Partner 

Cannabis dispensaries run on IT equipment, solutions, and services along with other things such as inventory, and a capable team. Therefore, collaborating with an able technology partner is important. They will help you design and set up your store from scratch.

When you have your license you can contact Cure8 IT experts. we will help you choose the right hardware, software, and set it up for you as well. From POS systems to laptops and Wi-Fi, we have everything to help you open a dispensary in the US and Canada.

How Can Cure8 Help?

Cure8 is a leading IT solutions provider for cannabis businesses. Our technical services and support enable cannabis businesses to set the shop up while overcoming obstacles and maintaining compliance with local and federal regulations.

 Our solutions keep your business running smoothly while having an edge over other cannabis businesses in the market.

Check out our solutions here.

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