The BC cannabis license application process can be complex. Business owners who want to maximize their time, along with their chance of success, should work with a cannabis license consultant to get them through the process. Incomplete applications are the number 1 reason for license application delay.
The following is a list of requirements and facts (in no particular order) you may not be aware of. This is by no means a complete list, although it does illustrate the point that businesses are wise to work with a consultant when applying for a BC cannabis license.
There is currently no cap on the number of retail cannabis stores that can operate in BC; however, there is a cap for individual licensees. A licensee cannot hold or have an interest in more than 8 retail cannabis stores.
Although licensees don’t have to be residents of BC, their business must be registered in BC as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation. Businesses must have a CRA Business Number and register to collect PST.
A federally incorporated business, or a business registered in another province, is required to register as an extra-provincial company in BC.
Indigenous nations applying in their own name and not as sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation, do not have to register a business in BC.
Cannabis license application requirements vary by business type.
Local government where the proposed store is located must provide a positive recommendation of the application to the BC Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB). If your local government recommends against your application, that’s it – your application will be rejected. However, even if local government recommends in your favour, it doesn’t guarantee approval. The LCRB must consider the recommendation but has the discretion whether to approve or reject the application. They could deem an applicant “unsuitable” for example, if the applicant could not pass the financial integrity check.
Even if your cannabis license application is approved, local governments and indigenous nations can (and do) impose zoning restrictions, limit hours of operation, set terms and conditions within their municipal licensing by-laws, and impose rules and restrictions regarding business signage.
Depending on the type of company, security screening may be required for company directors, shareholders with 10% or more voting shares, senior management, partners, sole proprietors, and the authorized person applying on behalf of an indigenous nation.
A criminal record or involvement in illegal cannabis dispensaries doesn’t mean automatic rejection, although a deeper investigation will become necessary and the application process takes much more time.
Generally, the same people who are required to undergo security screening, must also submit to a financial integrity check, which includes information about past addresses, finances, connections to cannabis producers or other cannabis licensees, and financials (income, assets, liabilities). The LCRB may also require credit reports, screen for current and past litigation and bankruptcy.