How To Start A Business In Bc Canada – Below is a step-by-step guide to planning and developing your cannabis business, obtaining the necessary licenses from government agencies, and bringing your regulated and approved products to market.
This guide is intended for the cultivation (such as cultivation and harvesting) and processing (such as production and packaging) of cannabis for commercial purposes and applies to businesses of all sizes.
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Check out our fact sheet for four non-medical cannabis plants to grow at home. To produce cannabis for your own medical purposes, apply to the federal registration system. For cannabis licensing, see Health Canada’s guide. For retail cannabis store licensing, see B.C.’s application system.
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If you intend to produce medical or non-medical cannabis for commercial purposes, you must be licensed by law. Obtaining the appropriate licenses allows your product to reach a broad base of public and private authorized retailers in BC. and throughout Canada.
Whether you want to grow cannabis on an existing site you own or lease, or want to buy or lease a new site, it is important to contact your relevant local authority or local nation as early as possible in the planning stages of your proposal. This will help you understand and meet all local requirements.
As a first step, research the land use planning and zoning bylaws of your respective local government or local nation to ensure that the land you are interested in using is properly zoned for hemp production.
B.C. Provides interactive maps to help you identify local governments and Indigenous Nations that may have land use planning and zoning bylaws that apply to your proposed site. See section 7(4) of the Federal Cannabis Regulations and section 1 of the Provincial Cannabis Control and Licensing Act for specific definitions of these entities.
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Many local governments and indigenous nations have online resources on land use planning. You can also call or email us directly if you have questions about what requirements apply to your proposed site. If your proposed site is on treaty or reserve lands, an Indigenous nation can advise you of additional requirements that may apply to your business.
For more detailed information on working with your respective local government or Indigenous nation, also see the BC
To grow cannabis, you will need a standard cultivation license and/or a nursery license from Health Canada. If you intend to grow on a small scale (less than 200 square meters), you can apply for a micro-cultivation license instead.
To manufacture, package and/or label cannabis products, you will need a standard processing license from Health Canada. However, you can apply for a micro-processing license if you intend to produce the equivalent of 600 kg of dried hemp per year without processing.
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If you intend to sell your products directly to authorized medical patients, you can also apply for a medical sales license from Health Canada. Both micro and standard license holders can apply for a medical sales license.
For Indigenous affiliate applicants, Health Canada offers a dedicated Indigenous navigator and licensing service. The Navigator Service provides ongoing support to applicants in the federal cannabis licensing process.
Indigenous affiliation may include any person or persons of First Nation, Inuit and/or Métis descent or any community, corporation or business associated with a First Nation, Inuit and Métis, government, organization or community.
Self-identified Indigenous affiliate applicants who wish to become a cannabis production license holder will be referred to a dedicated professional knowledgeable about Indigenous priorities, communities and circumstances.
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For more information, see the Health Canada Application Guide (Part 7). Indigenous affiliated applicants can contact Health Canada’s Navigator Service to learn more at: [email protected]
All businesses face risks and opportunities. For businesses in highly regulated industries such as cannabis, it is especially important to have a well-developed plant to ensure your business can adapt to changing market conditions and regulation in order to be successful in the long term.
Business planning and development support is provided by Small Business BC, which offers a range of resources and business consulting services that include market research, accounting and budgeting, business law, HR and more.
Read B.C.’s Starting a Small Business Guide and find information about other programs and supports in the Small Business Resource Guide. B.C. We also offer a special guide to indigenous small business resources.
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The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) provides online business planning and development resources, and entrepreneurs in rural areas can also access free services through Community Futures.
Local Business Advisory Centers in Cranbrook, Fort St. John and Prince George assist Indigenous entrepreneurs with business start-up or expansion, partnerships and planning. These centers ensure that Indigenous entrepreneurs have access to business support and advice to help them achieve their business goals. Locally affiliated businesses are also encouraged to review the services provided by the Local Business and Investment Council.
If your business is based in the Central Kootenay region, you may also qualify for free consulting services through the Community Futures Cannabis Business Transition Initiative.
Note: You can form a federal cooperative or federally incorporated business instead if you plan to conduct operations in multiple provinces and/or want to protect your business name in Canada.
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Not sure what type of business registration is right for you? Check out Small Business BC’s resource on how to choose the right business structure for your small business. Also see Small Business BC’s frequently asked questions about business registration.
Use OneStop to register your business. OneStop allows you to apply and complete registration for new or existing businesses with local, provincial and federal governments.
Some Indigenous Nations also have the right to adopt bylaws to register business entities, although OneStop may not cover all outcomes. In this case, be sure to ask the relevant Indigenous Nation about their business registration requirements and processes.
In most cases, you will be required to obtain a business license from your relevant local authority. Ask your local authority when you will need to apply for a business licence.
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You can start the business licensing process directly through OneStop, and B.C.’s BizPaL service can help you determine the permits and licenses you may need from all levels of government to start or operate your business.
Indigenous countries also often require you to obtain a business license, although OneStop and BizPal may not cover all results. In this case, be sure to ask the relevant local nation about their business licensing requirements and processes.
Your ability to access financing is affected by many factors, including, but not limited to: the size of your facility, growing and/or processing techniques, credit history, business model, corporate structure, region, and the dynamics of the cannabis commodity market.
Accessing funds from traditional banks and other lending institutions can be difficult. As with any new business venture, you will need to demonstrate to any lender that your ability to generate steady income outweighs any downside risks, such as loan defaults.
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Lending institutions will try to reduce financial risk and uncertainty by requiring adequate collateral on loans. You can expect to provide personal guarantees and provide assets such as real estate equity as collateral for the loan. In many cases you will be required to provide assets worth 100% (or more) of the requested loan amount.
Tip: Several successful cannabis license holders in B.C. and Canada chose to build their sites in several stages. This strategy can help prospective licensees reduce their debt burden at the time of initial licensing, as it allows them to become operational first, while profits are reinvested for further expansion in future years. Health Canada allows license amendments to support business scale. Note that if you are moving from a micro license to a standard license, new regulatory requirements (such as physical security updates) will apply and likely a higher annual regulatory fee. You’ll also need to make sure you meet zoning and business licensing requirements.
Your cannabis business may be able to access alternative financing through the Community Futures Business Loan Program. More information on loans, grants and funding is available from WorkBC. Indigenous-affiliated businesses in B.C. are encouraged to review the Government of Canada’s Community Opportunity Readiness Program.
To find out if your proposed site is in an Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), see these maps and resources.
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Cannabis cultivation is permitted in the ALR as long as you comply with applicable laws and local government regulations. A local authority cannot prohibit the production of cannabis in an ALR if that production complies with any applicable by-law and is grown:
If your proposed site is located on ALR land, some local governments and local nations may prohibit hemp production methods not listed above. This includes, but is not limited to, cement-based, industrial-style hemp production facilities. The Boroughs of Langley, Abbotsford, Delta and Kelowna may prohibit hemp production on the ALR, but only with the approval of the Minister of Agriculture.
For hemp production in the ALR, an Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) application is not required for agricultural use. However, it is likely that you will be required to submit a Notice of Intent to the ALC if your facility requires the placement of fill or the removal of soil from the property.
For more information on growing hemp on the ALR, please review the Agricultural Land Reserve Use Regulations. For more information on when you may need to get involved with ALC, see ALC’s newsletter on hemp production in ALR.
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Once you understand the local land use requirements, you will need to
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