Courthouse for local dispensary laws

The growing legalization in the United States is causing a huge increase in the number of dispensaries that are opening. It might cause you to think that this is the time for you to get started in the industry, but you might still be wondering how to open a dispensary.

In this post you’ll learn about what steps are needed to open your own dispensary, what licenses do you need to start a dispensary, and other considerations to keep in mind.

Research Your Local Laws and Regulations

Courthouse for local dispensary laws

It's important before learning how to open a dispensary to do your research and fully understand the laws and regulations in your state. Different states have different rules about how dispensaries can operate, so it's important to be aware of what is allowed and what isn't.

For example, in some states you may be able to own and operate a dispensary as an individual, while other states require that dispensaries are owned by a non-profit organization.

In addition to researching the local laws and regulations, you will also need to apply for an appropriate business license from your city or county government before opening your dispensary doors.

If you’re wondering how to open a dispensary and what licenses do you need to start a dispensary, it will depend on your specific state since there are no current federal regulations that can help guide you.

Everything from accepting payment to allowing people in the front door will have their own rules and regulations you’ll need to follow. 

It’s important to follow all future laws as well, so it will help to keep up to date on all information by using non-profit organizations like NORML. This resource will help you when learning what licenses you do need to start a dispensary.

Rent Your Property

As you're learning how to open a dispensary, renting property isn't going to be like renting property for your own personal space. There are tons more rules that you have to follow.

You'll need to make sure that all local zoning laws are met and there are no neighborhood restrictions on the property. The location of your dispensary is going to be a big factor in how successful it will become, so choose wisely.

The Department of Justice has issued guidance stating that if cannabis businesses comply with state law, they are less likely to be prosecuted. You will want to make sure that you have a license or permit before opening your business and that you follow all regulations as set by the state government.

It's also important when learning how to open a dispensary not to open up shop too close to schools or parks because this could get your dispensary shut down. If there is another marijuana dispensary in the area, you will have to make sure that your business is at least 1000 feet away from theirs.

Finding a good location can be tricky, so it's important to do all of this research before signing any lease agreements or buying property outright.

Put Together a Business Plan

Business Plan Dispensary

Now that competition has grown for dispensaries in legal states, it's important that you put together a business plan that will set you apart from the rest. 

Your business plan for how to open a dispensary should include what your dispensary will offer in terms of products, how you'll market to new and returning customers, and staffing needs. 

You should also have a section devoted to financials. This is where you estimate startup costs, monthly overhead costs, and projected profits. 

It's important to be realistic about your finances and not promise too much. If you're unable to meet the projected goals outlined in your business plan, it will make it difficult to secure funding from investors or a loan. 

Having a well thought out business plan will not only help you secure better deals with banks and vendors, but it may put you ahead of competition that didn't have everything together like you did.

Get Approved for a License

Perhaps one of the most important parts about learning how to open a dispensary will be  knowing what licenses do you need to start a dispensary.The licensing process is long and tedious, but if you're able to complete it all the way through, you will be one step closer to opening your own business.

Getting approved for a license will vary from state to state, so this is another important area where you need to check on the rules and regulations of getting approved to increase your chances of success. 

Money is most often the biggest part about a license because the upfront costs can be fairly large. 

If you're feeling like opening up your own dispensary might be too big of a jump right now, you can always talk with an existing location about franchising and see if you can run your own shop without having to deal with all the extra costs.

Partner With Vendors

The only way you'll be able to stock your stores and have a tight running ship is to partner with the right vendors. 

You need to find a vendor that has been in the industry for a while and knows how to navigate through all the red tape. 

Not only do you need a reliable partner but also one who is up for renegotiation as the laws change. You don't want to be locked into any long-term contracts that could prevent you from adapting to the ever-changing industry. 

The cannabis market is more cutthroat than it has ever been, so be weary of any long term deals that won't benefit your dispensary in the future.

Eventually, if your store finds success, you'll want to start thinking about cultivating your own products, and that's where your relationships with vendors will really count.

Opening Your Own Dispensary

The road ahead of you might seem like a long one, but with so many different dispensaries opening up in legal states, your chances are fairly good. As long as you follow the steps outlined above, you should be fully prepared to take the big leap and open up your own dispensary.