It’s been legal in California to sell and grow medicinal marijuana since 1996. In those early days, providers and patients alike could grow and share as much as they needed to treat various ills. 22 years later, many changes have been made to the laws concerning both medicinal and recreational marijuana.
Now a thriving industry, medicinal marijuana has earned the states that legally dispense it $3.2 billion collectively in the year 2017. As such, opening a dispensary is on the minds of investors and small business owners across the US, but the process can be confusing and laws are constantly changing. If you want to begin this journey in the place where it originated, here are the steps to opening a dispensary in California.
Know the laws
To begin with, do your research. Laws governing such business practices vary by region, so be sure to narrow down your research to ones that actually apply to you and your customers. Next, familiarize yourself with the state agencies you’ll need to contact and work with in order to get everything you need to run your dispensary legally. Once the behind-the-scenes work is completed and you feel comfortable, it’s time to begin the process of getting your licensing in order.
Find a lawyer
Obtaining a California marijuana license can be made easier by working in conjunction with a law firm that specializes in the marijuana industry. But to get the ball rolling yourself, start by choosing your business’ name and whether you’re focusing solely on medicinal marijuana patients or recreational clients as well. Each will have different tasks required of them, so decide as soon as possible to streamline your efforts. Choosing a name for your business and it’s DBA (“doing business as”) title will not only affect your brand and inventory, but also the clientele that you will serve, so keep in mind the demographics for the area you’ll open in.
Do the paperwork
Registering with the California Secretary of State’s office is the next step. Be sure to follow local, state, and federal requirements closely, as any delay in paperwork or certifications means a delay in providing services and gaining eventual profits. During this, you’ll also learn how to pay your taxes as a business and register as an employer in the state of California. You need a federal Employer Identification Number in order to pay your employees, and depending on the amount of people working for you, and the laws where you’re located, you want to look into getting health care services set up as well.
On the local level, you need to prove you can operate a business within the state, and show that you’ve satisfied all local requirements to operate the business. If you’re within a city, you need written consent from local officials. But if you’re in an unincorporated area, it’s the county that need to be consulted. A special seller and tax permit to sell cannabis is required as well.
Once all that is done, it’s time to open your business to the public and work on your marketing strategy. Keep in mind that some of these certifications, permits, and licensing will need to be renewed annually. Staying current on all of the various paperwork will help protect your investment and bring credibility to your name within the business world and your community. It also makes the time, energy, and start up capital you used to start said business worth it.
It can be daunting to start a new business, but with extra help and some foresight, the process can run smoothly.