How to Start a Medical Marijuana Dispensary in 10 Steps
Do Your Research
- Just having a location in mind and an affinity with cannabis isn't the only thing that you are going to need to open a dispensary. You are going to have to do your research. First take a look at the legality behind opening a dispensary in your state. Then take a look at your local zoning laws. You will most likely have to be zoned in a commercial zone. However, local governments tend to put their own requirements on zoning, so it wouldn't be a bad idea to reach out to your local government officials anyways.
Evaluate the Risks
- After you've done your research you will have a good idea of the risks involved with joining the cannabis industry. Every business comes with a certain amount of risks, but the truth is the cannabis industry comes with more than the average business.
- Believe it or not, I am not talking about the risks of going to jail. There used to be a time when arrest was a very possible risk with joining the cannabis industry but the risk of being arrested at this point is slim to none as long as you follow the rules set by your state government.
- Many of the risks involved with the cannabis industry at this point are: facing social stigmas, theft or vandalism, and the vast amount of competition involved with joining this business.
Seek training on cannabis
- Once you have decided that the cannabis industry is for you, don't make the mistake of thinking that you know all there is to know about cannabis. I have been in the cannabis industry for four years now and an enthusiasts for over 15 years now. I still learn more about this plant and this business every day. Don't think that all you have to learn is about dispensary management and budtending, you will also have to be versed on the medical benefits of this plant and how the plant is cultivated.
- There are plenty of institutions that provide cannabis education. Florida Cannabis Coalition being one of them; however, we are not the only one and urge you to seek additional training. The most famous of these institutions is Oaksterdam University in Oakland, California.
Design your logo
- This is one of the first things you should do when setting up any business. Designing your logo is when you start to see everything coming together. It should be something simple that people can identify with. Your logo should be the first step in setting up the theme and culture of your dispensary.
Hire a Team
- You are going to need a team of experts and professionals to help you make this into a reality. You will need a physician as a Medical Consultant, a Internet Marketing expert, a good accountant, you might need to hire a grower, you will most certainly need a good attorney. An attorney will also help you to secure the appropriate permits and licenses, and make sure you are in full compliance with any and all regulations.
Prepare a business plan.
- You are most likely going to need to find investors. A well written business plan is going to be needed to secure your funding. It will provide potential investors with a clear description of your company's goals, assets, plans, and projections.
Secure the necessary funding
- In most cases in this business (especially in Florida) it is unclear on exactly what you are going to need to raise in order to fund your dispensary. But, like writing most business plans, it is best to prepare for the worse and hope for the best. Map out the worse case scenario and properly express why in the plan. Then go for the funding needed for that scenario.
- Many people don't know where to start when searching for funding. The best place to start is with friends and family. Present the opportunity to anyone you know personally first. If that doesn't work then there are a number of different avenues that you can go through. Search for local investor pitch forums. Also the Arcview investor group is the largest and oldest investor network for the cannabis industry and would be a good place to find an investor as well.
Set up your location
- Take the zoning issues that you researched to heart here. You may have a difficult time finding a rental. When renting a location to a dispensary the owner of the location takes on a certain amount of risk, and it may be difficult finding an owner to take on that risk. However, that is not to say that this shouldn't be pursued. If not you will have to buy your location.
- You designed your logo, built your plan, and have a location. You should have a clear theme for the culture of your business at this point. Make sure your brand represents a respectable business image. Now is the time to achieve that image. Decorate your building, start your social media accounts and begin designing your website. Form your company culture and make sure it grows.
Conduct customer surveys
- A helpful tool for any business that often times goes overlooked. Find your target customers and begin surveying them. Ask them what kind of cannabis helps for their condition or that they enjoy most. Find out what method of ingestion that they prefer. Your customers have preferences and it is in your best interests to cater to those preferences. Doing this market research will help you to cater to them.