How to Open a Dispensary

Excitement levels are at an all time high as more and more people strive to open a cannabis business. In November 2016 we saw California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada take the leap to legalizing recreational marijuana. Therefore entrepreneurs and cannabis experts alike are racing to claim their spot as a licensed retail dispensary. Furthermore cultivators, manufacturers, labs and testing facilities, distributors and transporters also planning on starting businesses.

That being said, licensing approaches for opening a dispensary or cannabis business vary state by state. Federal and state laws are preventing vertically integrated businesses in single states or across state lines by strict regulations on licensing. No-doubt producing insurmountable opportunity in the cannabis industry for small to medium sized business. Yet in light of all the potential, there is great risk in opening a dispensary or cannabis business and the best way to get a piece of the pie is Cannabis Compliance.

Cannabis Compliance means different things depending on which state your new dream businesses may emerge from. So, what do you need to know if you’ve decided to take the leap in California, Massachusetts, Maine or Nevada? Whether your state is currently accepting applications or not, the first step is preparation. Utilizing resources of existing players in the industry is the best way to master cannabis business. Reach out, ask questions and create valuable partnerships.

EvolutionZ will help you navigate the set up and execution of your new cannabis business. From compliance and documentation to accounting, graphic design and human resources, we have all the bases covered and a track record of success! As a result of working with us, create a plan that emphasizes stability and growth specifically tailored to your states’ legislation, regulation and licencing. We can answer specific questions and turn them into actionable items – like how much money you will need, how long will it take, what types of licenses do you need – don’t let questions become speed bumps in your workflow. Most states will have a system in place by early 2018, the time to get ready is NOW!

Three things you can do no matter what state you are in, or what type of business you plan to go into…

  1. Get your business plan in tip top shape
  2. Learn the regulations in your state
  3. Begin work with an industry compliance expert 

If possible, subscribe to the mailing list for state licensing updates

  • How to Open a Dispensary in California

Licensing Begins January 1, 2018

CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing

Department of Food & Agriculture

Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation

Department of Public Health

  • How to Open a Dispensary in Massachusetts

As of right now the state has not begun licensing for recreational commerce and has no set date. Due to the state house and senate agreeing to postpone licensing until at least 2018. Bill S2524 pushed back the date for accepting licenses by 6 months to allow for a case study and for the creation of a new 3 person committee.

The Cannabis Control Commission is the entity tasked with developing the application process and regulation. Because of the new bill, it may be until July 2018 that the CCC is set up and issuing licenses. As a result, come spring 2018 new applications are accepted, but currently operating medical marijuana business will take precedence in the initial licensing.

Existing documentation is found at Look at the application guidelines and information for the Massachusetts Medical Use of Marijuana Program to get a head start on recreational compliance in the state.

  • How to Open a Dispensary in Maine

First of all, there was a minor hold up when opposition requested a recount because of the thin margin that passed the law in Maine last November. Ultimately, they dropped the recount when the group realized the tally would not change significantly, sealing in the fact that Mainers legitimately support the legalization marijuana.

Maine has 9 months to establish regulations. 30 days after the adoption of rules priority applications are open for admission. Next, 90 days after adoption of rules, priority applications are granted and only then are general license applications accepted.

Check the legislature document here

and look here to find existing info on the medical marijuana system in Maine

  • How to Open a Dispensary in Nevada

For the first 18 months of the program recreational licenses in Nevada are limited to businesses that currently hold a medical license. There are currently 96 medical businesses in operation. At this time, there are no new licenses available. However, the state department has no more than 12 months to adopt necessary regulations. Come January 2018 regulations should be in effect and by June 2018 new entrepreneurs in the industry may apply.

Reference the initiative to regulate and tax marijuana here

In addition, check the division of public and behavioral health for updates

In conclusion, at the end of the day, most states give precedence to already licensed medical marijuana businesses. None the less, the opportunity to break into the cannabis industry is not limited to dispensaries or those who already have a license. Whatever your dreaming up there are serious and specific rules that will make or break you.

“We generate fears while we sit. We overcome them by action. Fear is nature’s way of warning us to get busy.”
– Dr. Henry Link

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