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How to Become a Marijuana Dispensary in Canada

How to become a Marijuana Dispensary

Although for recreational use, possession of marijuana is still illegal and law has not changed to that effect but there is a sense of acceptance for medical marijuana being sold in legal marijuana dispensaries in Canada, thus it is illegal to consume or sell marijuana in public places, if caught there is a good chance you will have to face legal repercussions.

The first legal access to marijuana for medical purposes was provided in 1999 under the CDSA (Controlled Drugs and Substance Act) stating that an individual with certain medical conditions has the legal right to possess cannabis for medical purpose. This later led to the implementation of the MMAR(The Marijuana Medical Access Regulation) in 2001, the MMAR enabled patients with the due authorization letter from their healthcare practitioner to have access to dried marijuana plant or appoint someone to grow for them or purchase through licensed suppliers popularly called Dispensary.

What is a dispensary?


The dispensary is store where marijuana is sold to customers who need it for medical purposes. In most cases, the patient needs to provide medical documents from their doctor, nurse or other qualified medical professional. The medical marijuana system allows a dispensary to sell only dried marijuana to patients, although many of these dispensaries sell oil, cookies, creams and other marijuana products.

The dispensary is store where marijuana is sold to customers who need it for medical purposes. In most cases, the patient needs to provide medical documents from their doctor, nurse or other qualified medical professional. The medical marijuana system allows a dispensary to sell only dried marijuana to patients, although many of these dispensaries sell oil, cookies, creams and other marijuana products.

As time went on, the court ruled out a number of changes to the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations(MMAR) that individuals with a medical condition be given the right to make and use other marijuana products. It also allows, among many other things licensed marijuana producers to produce and dispense cannabis oil and marijuana buds(fresh) and leaves with the addition to dried marijuana to allow users have access to different forms of medical cannabis products.

The decision by the court to give access to patients enable them to get marijuana only from Canada licensed dispensaries was later confirmed to violate security and liberty rights protected by the section seven(7) of the Canadian charter rights and freedom. The court realized that people who requested cannabis for medical purposes often did not have reasonable access.

As such the ACMPR (Access to Cannabis for Medical Purpose Regulation) was designated to address this; the Heath Canada will also collaborate with them to evaluate how the system of medical access to marijuana should function alongside the Canada government commitment to medical marijuana legal with strict regulations.

Such regulations bring us to the next question:

Are Medical marijuana dispensaries legal?

The ACMPR permits a handful of licensed marijuana dispensaries to sell medical marijuana to users through a web mail order system with a licensed courier in some parts of the country, most especially British Columbia, though it is still illegal to sell cannabis products outside and apparently some medical marijuana dispensaries are obtaining and selling it illegally. However, it is legal to dispense medical marijuana if a license has been provided by Health Canada through ACMPR.


Health Canada and Medical Marijuana dispensaries?



  • Overseeing medical dispensary and licensing and
  • Conducting thorough reviews on applications of these dispensaries to ensure they comply with their regulations and directives. They will continue to work closely with producers and dispensaries after they are granted a license as a means to ensure compliance with their regulations.

What does it mean to the dispensary?


The ACMPR cover the permitted actions and responsibilities of these licensed dispensaries and producers including;

  • obtaining and maintaining a license
  • providing personnel security measures
  • ensuring activities such as assessing grade off marijuana produce, shipping, packaging, labeling, export, and import requirements and seeing that record keeping requirements are met
  • checking patient orders and registration requirements

How to become a legal medical marijuana dispensary



Marijuana dispensaries are very rife in and around Canada, particularly in Ontario and British Columbia which has the highest number of licensed producers for medical purposes with a total of 41 licensed producers overall.

According to review, Ontario has the highest number of authorized producers and dispensaries with 24 different licensed producers while British Columbia has Nine(9)


These dispensaries are generally for-profit, unlike compassion clubs which are typically not profit-minded but are designed to meet people’s health needs.


The report shows that the medical marijuana market value is expected to worth more than 1.3 million dollars by 2024, there is a lot of profit not minding how big or small your operations would be.


Although cannabis dispensaries are more or less illegal in some states, they are allowed in many other cities in Canada as they tend to operate in the gray areas of the law. Recently, there has been a rise in cannabis dispensaries in Ontario due to certain discussions and disputes around legalization which prompt some dispensaries to shut down as most are not operating legally.


A medical marijuana dispensary is now demanded to obtain a license and failure to provide a license after they had administered marijuana has resulted in substantial fines by law officers. To avoid the problem with the law it is necessary that you apply for a business license in order to ensure the long term feasibility of the marijuana dispensary.

Marijuana dispensary regulation



These regulations for marijuana dispensing are particularly rigorous. As at late 2015, medical marijuana dispensaries in Vancouver, BC has to pay a thirty thousand dollars yearly licensing fee but this amount can vary depending on the location;

  • be located far away from schools, other marijuana dispensaries, community center or compassion stores
  • they can only operate in commercial areas
  • sign a good neighbor agreement and have a development permit with a standard community notification process.
  • they must also go through a review process consisting of 3 stages, the first stage being the submission of application forms; before being given a license to operate a licensed medical marijuana dispensary.


These regulations were provided due to the rampant growing number of the medical marijuana dispensaries in Canada breaking the federal government law that prohibits the illegal selling of marijuana. It strikes a good balance between meeting the medical needs of patients as well as health and security issues.

Interested in opening a Weed Dispensary in your Area?


If you are interested in legal distribution or selling and production of medical marijuana in Canada, you should first consider the city you want to start your business, there are some cities which have now started to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries with a license agreement as seen in Victoria city and city of Vancouver, British Columbia, the latter especially. This city has significant support publicly for the medical use of marijuana, this allows the customers to have a face to face conversation with dispensaries and have a vivid understanding and look at a wide range of available cannabis products as the dispensaries offer a wide range of services to the community.


Also, note that to be considered for a license at this city the dispensary must have a healthcare practitioner who will attest to the customer’s needs for the medicine before being sold to. Finally, it is highly advisable to meet with a lawyer, a tax lawyer and/or any other relevant professional for consulting on all facets over the operations of the business.


Here are links to the City of Vancouver and Victoria city application forms as well as bylaws and regulations and certificate standards for medical cannabis dispensaries in Canada.



1 thought on “How to Become a Marijuana Dispensary in Canada”

  1. Hello, I am looking for information about selling cannibis products. I own a wellness center with massage therapy, naturopathic doctor, chiropractic and physiotherapy in Saskatchewan. Can you point me into the right direction to get some information on how to apply or if it’s possible to apply. Thanks for your time, Brit

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