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Mar 22, 2016 6:02 PM

How to Open Weed Dispensary

Interested in starting your own business? Want to join a $45 billion marijuana industry? Considering the option of a medical cannabis dispensary? Here is a step-by-step guide to opening your own retail cannabis location in the United States.

After California legalized marijuana consumption for medical use in 1996, weed industry became a rapidly-growing and extremely profitable business. Thanks to legalization, Colorado medical dispensaries that successfully applied for special licenses will be able to sell medical cannabis to the public, but recreational use remains illegal. Although the drug is still illegal at the federal level, the growing acceptance of weed is providing business investors and entrepreneurs with unprecedented opportunities as well as obvious risks. According to Colorado Department of Revenue, there are nearly 800 dispensaries in the state as of March 2016, and this number is growing every day.

Before you set out on your own big business venture, there are many things involved in running a successful dispensary to keep in mind. So, here are three most important considerations.

Step 1. Legal Framework

First of all, you have to determine whether it is legal to establish a medical cannabis dispensary in your area. Selecting the right city and finding the right spot in hopes to get the license or permission should be your first step as a weed businessman.

For example, medical marijuana is legal in Washington D.C. and 23 states, including Nevada, Arizona, California, Alaska, Connecticut, and Vermont. We recommend you to start with the Department of Health Services in your area. Because medical cannabis dispensary laws vary from state to state, check with your municipal offices in order to be sure that you are allowed to operate a business legally in the chosen area.

In addition, you need to acquire the appropriate permission and other documents before proceeding. There are also a number of additional restrictions in many areas, e.g., in California, opening a weed dispensary within 1,000 feet of a child care center, park, or library is prohibited. Some states require all dispensaries to be non-profits, while others can be registered as C-Corporations.

Step 2. Fitting Criteria

Running your own business is not about being a good pothead. It is important for you to determine if you meet all the requirements of owning a weed business in the state. Applying in Colorado, the applicant must be a Colorado state resident for at least two years and be older than 21, must not have a criminal history, must be free of any convictions involving controlled substances within the last ten years, must be fully discharged of any other felony convictions for five years, and so on. Many states require background checks not only for the entrepreneurs but also for all employees, partners, and investors. Each facility is authorized to engage only in the type of activity for which it is licensed.

Moreover, the right candidate is a business-minded entrepreneur who cares about doing his business right and can handle a certain degree of risk. Make sure that you fit all the requirements and then think one more time—this is not for the faint of heart.

Step 3. Creating Business Plan

After you have obtained all proper permits and licenses, it is time to create a solid dispensary business plan. Because of the ambiguous legal situation, it is reasonable to start with hiring a qualified lawyer who will be able to help you secure your business and assist you in setting up a medical marijuana dispensary.

Create a clear description of your business goals, plans, and projections. Design the business infrastructure and contact cultivators or products manufacturers. Find investors: even the most elaborate business plan cannot save you from financial failure, so it makes sense to enlist enough assets before starting. Put the business on the rails and enjoy the profits of legal marijuana while promoting health.