How to sell weed legally in Canada: A beginner’s guide

Glass jar full of Cannabis Sativa
Photo: iStock

So, you want to open up a pot shop.

Perhaps you’re a shopkeeper at heart, drawn to a rare bright spot in a retail landscape mired in doom-and-gloom. Maybe you missed out on the first phase of the green gold rush and you’re looking to make your mark on this (literal) growth industry, knowing it’s a sector where consumers have indicated a preference for buying in-person rather than online. Or maybe you’ve just heard that Canadians bought $85 million dollars’ worth of legal cannabis in May of this year and want your own piece of that green.

Whatever your motivation, getting into cannabis retail is a bit more involved than renting a storefront and deciding precisely which pot pun to use for your business name. (Although if you’re asking, we always thought Portland’s “Gram Central Station” was particularly clever.) From growing to selling to buying, it’s an environment that’s at once highly regulated and unpredictably fluid, a brand-new industry in an endless beta test as governments refine the rules, parameters and processes of accommodating the demand for a product that was illegal less than a year ago. There’s a reason “get a lawyer” is the first piece of advice most people in this business dispense.

And that’s why we’re not claiming that this is a comprehensive guide to opening a pot shop. Rather, it’s a roadmap to pursuing your dream of owning a legal retail cannabis store…and a signposting of the pitfalls to watch out for, lest your dream vanish in a puff of smoke. (Sorry.)

Seek professional help

“For someone coming into this space from a regular retail environment,

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