Recreational Cannabis Retail Costs in BC

Recreational cannabis retail costs in BC can be a steep endeavour. What you need to know if you want to open up a legal cannabis dispensary in British Columbia. Every province will slightly differ regarding provincial and municipal laws. Keep in mind municipal fees must still be paid apart from provincial fees. Cannabis retail stores require a provincial licence to operate in the province of BC. The BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch is governed by the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act.

Local governments have control over the number of licenses permitted within their jurisdictions. Application license fees can take up to 12 months to process.

Retail Application Process

Future business owners will need to apply for a liquor or non-medical cannabis licence or permit. Each municipality may differ slightly.

  • retail store licence application fee $7,500 (finance and security screening compare to $175 to $200 licence fee for a regular business)
  • licence application marketing – $500
  • First year annual licensing fee $1,500 (non-refundable)
  • Licence renewal fee $500
  • Licence marketing fee $200
  • Municipal licensing approval $2,000 (Vernon) to $30,000 (Vancouver)
  • fees – $400 non-refundable application fee per location
  • fee per retail worker – $100

Time: processed in the order received, anywhere from two to 12 months
Cost: $12,700 to $40,700 depending on the municipality

Retail Store Location

Retail store locations amortization periods range from 5 to 10 year leases. First year costs for a retail locations differs widely in the province of BC. During the application fee process to open up a legal dispensary you still have to pay for a retail space per month. This wait time puts a huge financial dent in the pocket of prospective cannabis store owners.

Store security requirements

  1. audible intruder alarm system
  2. audible fire alarm monitored by a third party
  3. locked retail display cases
  4. locked storage room
  5. secure perimeter door locks
  6. security cameras

Cost: lease rates <$50,000 to $150,000 (lower mainland) for the first year depending on the city or town

Interior Renovations & Branding

Developing your own brand and bespoke interior designs can add another a significant amount to your investment. Depends on how fancy you want to get with your design and material specifications.

Cost: $100,000 to $250,000

Miscellaneous Legal Fees

You will require a lawyer adept in cannabis licensing. Legal fees and insurance can add up.

Cost: $50,000


Digital marketing can vary from $30,000 to more than $70,000 for a marketing agency. PPC and traditional methods of marketing are not applicable to the cannabis industry. Social media accounts are frequently shut down for mentioning cannabis use or products. Facebook and Instagram are “infamous” for suspending cannabis influencers accounts.

Cost: $30,000 to $70,000 per year

Miscellaneous Expenses

  • compliant pos system
  • retail store display cases and furniture
  • security guard salary
  • inventory packing supplies
  • third party security surveillance
  • cannabis inventory and accessory

Cost: $250,000 to $400,000

Budtender Salaries

The average budtender salary according to is $15.56 per hour or just over $30,000 per year. For a retail location you’ll have to hire a minimum staff of 3 people per shift seven days per week.

Cost: $90,000 to $200,000 per year

Approximate Opening Costs

The approximate start-up cost of opening up a cannabis retail location in B.C. ranges from $552,700 on the low end up to a more realistic $1,160,700 before making your first profit.

Is Opening Up a Recreational Cannabis Retail Store Worth It?

There exists a lot of discrepancy’s regarding exact costs regarding the city or town in British Columbia. I’ve tried to breakdown the approximate prices to start up a retail cannabis space in BC. The disparity between opening up a liquor store compared to a recreational cannabis store is prohibitively expensive. The cost to open up a cannabis retail store can be 25x more price than a traditional business.

Invariably the prohibitive cost of opening a recreational cannabis retail location will be passed on to the customer in the form of higher cannabis retail prices. This is one of the reasons why the blackmarket has such competitive prices. Non government online dispensary’s don’t have to jump thru the many legal loops. Sites like QuickGreens continue to bring competitive prices to the consumer.

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