Here’s a Medical Cannabis Operation Starter Kit for Black Entrepreneurs

By BCB Staff Writer | July 3, 2020

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The influx of cannabis growers to the industry boosts economies, but what most don’t realize is the sheer amount of paperwork and hoops to jump through that those who want to contribute to the medical marijuana sector have to endure. Cultivation is only one way to get licensed to work in the cannabis industry.

Along with the actual plant-touching aspect of cultivation, four other avenues to licensing exist: manufacturing, distribution, testing, and dispensary work. Cultivators need licenses through the Department of Food and Agriculture, manufacturing cannabusinesses need to be licensed through the Department of Public Health, and others send applications to the Bureau of Cannabis Control. The licenses of each differ, but the research and planning involved with each application process are consistent.

The success rate for potential growers is dependent on the strength of the application.

There’s an easy breakdown to guarantee that your application gets seen and accepted, but this requires forethought, careful planning, and capital enough to get a grow operation off the ground. Breaking into this niche is not cheap, as a single greenhouse building could potentially cost as much as $1 million.

The first step toward success is to prepare a work plan. Having a master checklist of the start to finish tasks is crucial to staying on track while not wasting extraneous income or time. This work plan should include the direction you see the business heading, any current operations and acquired property, proof of financial stability, and who you plan to help. Medical cannabis is never grown without a target market, so an application to join the industry shouldn’t either.

For those with existing operations and land enough to prosper, making those acquisitions known puts applicants above the norm. Owning property plans and staking out GPS coordinates, property boundaries, access roads, parking lots, landscaping, and walkways will allow the land to appear more concrete and ready for a plug and chug business to take root. Understanding zoning and land use restrictions are also crucial for success. A single infringement will set the application back and might even disqualify the applicant.

The third planning benchmark is to have an unwavering business plan. Without a positive outlook, regulators won’t give the time of day to applicants who are unsure of the market. Knowledge of state legislation, safety and security measure, public relations output, financial projections, business operational compliance, and required licensing and permits will serve to legitimize applications. Understanding the start-up/potential investor relationship also creates an advantage.

Steps four, five, and six of seven involves obtaining state and local approvals. For example, in California, medical marijuana grow applicants need approval from the Department of Tax and Fee Administration, State Water Resources Control Board, Department of Fish and Wildfire, the Secretary of State, and CalFire. Business entity documentation is required to be successful in state approval. Site plans, business plans, and state agency approval are all needed to be successful at the local level, and some cannabusinesses are required to present their business plan at a public hearing and wait for City Council approval or denial.

The final qualification revolves around maintenance. Permits and licenses expire, and regulations are continually changing. Staying on top of current rulings and regulations will keep your grow operation afloat. Inspections from state and local regulators will become synonymous with maintained success, and keeping up-to-date records will ease the stress already imposed on cannabusiness start-ups.

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