The legal marijuana industry is the fastest-growing industry in the U.S. In 2018, it added almost 65,000 jobs to the economy. And it’s only going to get better as more states legalize medicinal and recreational marijuana.
Are you dreaming of your very own slice of that 420 pie? Before you bite off more than you can chew, it’s important to learn how to open a dispensary. This step-by-step guide will get you started.
1. Hire a Lawyer to Walk You Through How to Open a Dispensary
It’s illegal to sell marijuana under federal law. However, Attorney General Eric Holder gave states the right to regulate marijuana laws in 2013. And as with all things controversial, the laws in every state are different.
That means you need an attorney who knows how to open marijuana dispensaries from the get go. They don’t come cheap. But they will save you thousands of dollars in the long run (and keep you from going to jail).
2. Write a Business Plan and Find Funding
Most big banks aren’t exactly falling all over themselves to loan money to someone opening a dispensary. But some smaller banks and credit unions might be willing to give you a shot. You can also try to find partners or investors.
You’ll need plenty of capital because as with all new businesses, startup is expensive.
Costs vary depending on where you are. That’s why it’s important to write a business plan in the early stages. You can find business plan templates tailored for dispensaries online. They’ll walk you through calculating the startup and running costs of a dispensary.
You’ll also need to think about what products you plan to sell. Will you sell only marijuana? Or will you extol the health benefits of CBD oil too? What about edibles like the ones at Cheap Bud Canada – Online Marijuana Dispensary? They’re perfect for days when your customers don’t have to be at work since their effects last a while.
This is also a good time to find an accountant.
3. Get a License
Ask your lawyer what licenses are needed to start a dispensary. It’s an important first hurdle to clear, and licenses can be tough to get.
The license you need and the steps you take to get it will vary by state. There may be age requirements, criminal background checks, rules regarding your location and more.
4. Find a Location Where It’s Legal to Operate a Dispensary
If you can find a realtor who knows the ins and outs of opening a dispensary, you’re one of the lucky ones. But chances are good the person you find will have no idea how to start a marijuana dispensary and what location laws pertain to it.
Ask your lawyer to provide you with a written list of rules your state has about where you can open a dispensary. The list will include things like how far away you have to be from churches or schools and more mundane regulations that apply to any other retail businesses.
5. Get Marijuana Dispensary-Specific Training
Just because you’ve run a business before or smoked a lot of marijuana yourself doesn’t mean you know how to open a marijuana dispensary, much less run a successful one.
Look for an accredited course that deals specifically with opening a dispensary. You’ll want a college-style course that will teach you about the local and state laws in addition to the business end.
You don’t just need to know the laws behind opening a dispensary. You should also know the laws your customers might have to follow so you can give good advice.
In what public and private spaces are your customers allowed to enjoy marijuana? Are there rules for how much they can have in their possession at a time? In some states, you should also know how to get a medical marijuana card from your doctor.
If you’re planning to grow your own product on-site, it might be helpful to enroll in a horticulture course too. If you can find one that deals with growing marijuana, all the better.
6. Stay Professional
This is a business, not Woodstock. Learn to avoid using slang terms like pot or weed. In fact, some dispensaries even avoid the term “marijuana,” preferring to use the less negatively associated term “cannabis.”
Learn to always be upfront with investors, law enforcement and the businesses surrounding you. What you’re doing is legal. But people get naturally suspicious when it looks like you’re hiding something.
It’s also helpful to have a medical professional and perhaps even a lawyer on your board of directors. It shows that you care about your customers’ health and the law.
7. Market Your Business
This can be tricky since a lot of platforms, such as Facebook, don’t allow you to sell your wares. But there are cannabis-friendly apps and sites where you can advertise.
It Can’t Be Said Enough: Stay Legal
Knowing how to open a dispensary legally is just the beginning. The best advice anyone can give you is to stay on top of the laws regarding marijuana retail as they change. They’re likely to do so quickly, and failure to comply could destroy your business or worse. It could land you in jail.
Stay in touch with your lawyer and get on top of the latest legal marijuana news in the legal cannabis section of our website.