Starting your own marijuana dispensary is a big commitment. Before you do, make sure that it’s what you want to do with the rest of your life as it requires a big commitment of time, money, and more. Of course, there are lots of reasons why people open dispensaries in the first place. But before you decide for certain, ask yourself these questions: Are you really in love with weed? Are you prepared to spend at least six hours every day working on things like inventory control and customer service? Do you have enough cash saved up so that if everything falls through, or if something happens to one of your suppliers, or if somebody decides to sue over some little thing—do you have enough money set aside so that nothing can touch this business? And when it comes right down to it, do you really believe in the healing power of this amazing plant?
To help get you started on your journey towards opening a marijuana dispensary as great as Tropicanna Dispensary, we’ve compiled the following list of common things you’ll need to know and do:
- What is a marijuana dispensary?
A dispensary is a company that legally sells marijuana to the public. Many dispensaries operate in what’s called a “grey area,” which means they sell it even though they have an official license from their state government to do so but it’s illegal federally.
Marijuana dispensaries generally fall into two categories: medical and recreational. The main difference is that medical dispensaries have a doctor’s prescription required when someone wants to purchase marijuana from them. In many cases, you need a medical recommendation from a physician in order to get a permit or license for your dispensary.
- Check Legality
Firstly, make sure that it’s legal for dispensaries to operate in your state. Depending on local and state laws, you’ll need to research what kinds of licenses or permits your business will need. States like Colorado have passed legislation allowing the use of medical marijuana for patients with a prescription from a physician. On the other hand, states like California allow both medical and recreational dispensaries to operate within their jurisdiction.
- Getting Permits and Licenses
In almost all states, you’ll have to get a permit or license from the local government as well as state authorities. In addition, you may need business permits and licenses as well as those for product manufacturing and distribution. Each city and county typically has its own regulations on how many dispensaries can open in an area. For instance, if your city allows only three dispensaries to operate within its borders and you want to open one, it could be very difficult or even impossible if there are already 3 open before you.
- Creating A Business Plan
Before you even start looking for real estate to lease, equipment to buy, or employees to hire, write up a solid business plan. This should cover all the bases including how much money you’ll need to bring your business into operation and how much it’ll cost per day just to carry on daily operations.
It’s incredibly important to remember that not only is this a significant investment, but it’s also a business you’re building. You need to treat it like any other business and come up with a solid business plan.
- Choosing Location
What makes a good location for your dispensary? Besides a place in a high foot traffic area with lots of potential customers, nice surroundings will go a long way. Where the business is located is also going to make a difference in whether or not you’ll be able to get all the permits and licenses you need, so make sure it’s located in an area where the rules are somewhat flexible to begin with. Signing a commercial lease usually requires that the property has been zoned for commercial use.
- Finding Suppliers
Where are you going to get your supplies? This is one of those areas that can be tough, especially if state law requires that marijuana be grown on-site by the dispensary itself. Other places could require that customers be the ones to grow the plants if they want to use them as medicine, which means you need a separate space for patients to do this.
And if your state doesn’t require it, and you don’t have any experience growing weed, you should look into finding someone else who does. This would require hiring an expert to come in and show your employees how to grow the plants or having an agreement with a local greenhouse or farmer who specializes in growing weed.
It might look like an easy-to-run business at first glance, but there’s a lot more that goes into running a dispensary than just helping customers and making sales.
It’s generally considered best practice to have more than one person working at your dispensary, especially if you want to keep it open for 24 hours. Because of the strict security requirements of operating a marijuana dispensary, you’ll need several employees on hand.
Most dispensaries advertise on social media, but you can also place advertisements in print publications, billboards, and even commercials if you have the budget for it. The smarter route would be to use digital marketing for your advertising as it can get directly to your target market with minimal loss to advertising dollars.
- Inventory Control
Keeping track of what’s going in and out of your dispensary is a major part of running a successful business, even if it’s at the cash register. There are several methods to use for tracking inventory including hand-written logs, a computerized system, or a manually kept spreadsheet. Each dispensary may have its own unique inventory system, but the important thing is to use one.
Security should be your number one concern when running a marijuana dispensary. Because it’s still illegal in many areas, you’ll need to take extra steps to make sure that it remains secure. The door needs an electronic lock system attached to an alarm system which can sound off if there is a break-in.
You should also have enough cameras around the facility so that between those and any human eyes watching, you can keep track of what’s going on. It’s also important to have more than one employee working at night, as well as an alarm system that alerts local police if something goes wrong.
- Regulations and Rules
Since every state has different regulations on how marijuana can be sold, you need to make sure that employees know these rules and obligations inside and out. That means continuous training on the legalities of it all as well as safety precautions and best practices for dealing with customers.
- Keeping Track of Everything
It’s important to keep track of all your receipts, invoices, and expenditures on a daily basis so you can accurately file taxes at the end of the year. Most new business owners think that a simple spreadsheet or handwritten log should do the trick. It doesn’t. Start smart and get yourself an automated software, or hire an online bookkeeping service. You’ll be too busy growing, overseeing inventory, profit, and growing the business to worry about manually writing down each and everything.
- Inventory on hand
There are regulations for what amount of inventory your business should keep on hand. It’s crucial to know what the local laws require for your dispensary.
- Packaging and Shipping
Packaging can be just as unique to your business as any other part of it, but the main goal is to make sure that everything is childproof, tamper-resistant, and opaque. You don’t want any photos or information about your product on the outside of the packaging.
Running a marijuana dispensary is not as easy as it may seem at first glance. There are many steps that need to be taken before you can open up your own storefront, including getting the proper licenses and permits, finding a location for your dispensary, researching on what products will be sold for profit, and determining how many employees you’ll need to have working in order to keep things running smoothly.
One of the most important parts of starting up a new business is knowing all of the regulations and rules that come with operating within this particular industry. Without understanding these legalities inside and out from day one, there’s no way you’re going to stay compliant throughout operations or avoid fines down the line. If any part of this sounds overwhelming or confusing, the best bet is to seek out a business attorney who can help you understand these processes and what’s required of your dispensary.
And remember, it’s all about customer service. If anything goes wrong, fix it as soon as possible with a generous apology and some sort of compensation for their troubles. A happy customer will tell others how great your dispensary is.