As the public opinion on marijuana continues to shift, more and more people are becoming interested in medical marijuana operations and investing in the cannabis industry. As of last fall, 23 states and D.C. have legalized marijuana, and over half of Americans (58%) support legalization. Even 76% of physicians believe in the medical benefits of cannabis.
So, how does one go about opening a dispensary?
The First 6 Steps for Starting a Medical Marijuana Business
- Check local laws: Your first step is to determine whether or not it is legal to establish a marijuana dispensary in your immediate area. Laws can vary by city and county. Check with your area?s municipal offices and the Department of Health Services in your state.
- Check zoning laws: You will need to obtain the proper permits and documents in order to establish a business in a commercial zone. There are specific restrictions in some areas, as well. For instance, in California you cannot open a marijuana dispensary within 1,000 feet of a child-care facility, park, or public library. You are also not permitted to distribute medical marijuana within 500 feet of a residential area.
- Determine you are a good candidate to run a dispensary: To obtain a medical marijuana business license, you will most likely need to go through a background check. If you have a criminal history, particularly if you have committed a felony, it might be very difficult for you to obtain licensing or secure employees.
- Learn about cannabis or consult an expert: Some dispensaries grow their own product on site, so if you are not already an expert, you are going to have to start educating yourself or work with an expert in the field. Understanding how to run a marijuana-growing operation is essential to your business?s success.
- Hire a lawyer: You will definitely need a lawyer to help you get the proper permits, licenses, and documentation, and to make sure you are within the limits of the state, city, county, and federal law.
- Create a business plan: This is the best way to attract investors. Make sure you have a clear description of your goals, plans, projections, and assets.
Starting a medical marijuana business requires a lot of paperwork and legal hurdles, but as the law continues to change, the cannabis industry is just going to become bigger and bigger.