Our Cannabis Consultants Share the Top 4 Things to Consider when applying.
The medical marijuana market is already booming and growing fast. In 2014, the industry was estimated at $45 billion and there are plenty of people interested in getting in on the action. Yes, the payoff is great, but you have to know how to navigate the process to become one of the successful few who win a medical marijuana business license. In addition to the information in this article, you may want to refer to another recent article “3 Things you should do before you Apply for a Business Cannabis License.”
Once you’ve decided to apply, be aware that the cannabis application process is complex and it pays to consult with experts who already have the skills and experience and have won licenses in multiple states. If you don’t get it right the first time, it may be years until another license opportunity is available.
1. PREPARE FOR SUBMISSION OF YOUR APPLICATION
In order to be eligible to apply for a medical marijuana license, you and your partners must plan ahead to ensure you meet some critical requirements.
- Background checks are essential and should be completed early in the process for every person you plan to include on your team (owners, investors and employees). It’s common for a client to think that everyone has a “clean” record, only to find out someone has a disqualifying infraction and they have to be removed from the team.
If this person has a key role, it could negatively impact the competitive advantage the business has in winning a license. Many states have laws restricting cannabis businesses from hiring employees with certain criminal backgrounds, particularly individuals with drug-related convictions or felonies.
- Plan ahead for how you will present your application for review:
- Will you need multiple copies and in what format?
- Do you need a backup on a flash drive?
- Are you required to drop the application off at a specific site that may be out of your area?
- Will you need to hire couriers or hand-deliver the application?
- Is there a window of time during which applications are accepted?
- Do you need an appointment?
- You may need to submit your application and license registration fees in the form of a cashier’s check, which you’ll need to secure in advance of delivering your application.
2. SEEK OUT INDUSTRY & NON-INDUSTRY EXPERTS
When selecting your executive team, it’s vital that you focus on expertise from outside the cannabis industry as well as inside the regulated industry. Special attention should be paid to experience in a business functioning under strict regulations and compliance. Other key areas include those with medical background, chemistry, horticulture, security, and substance abuse prevention. You may need assistance in rounding out your team and that’s where we can help.
Canna Advisors works together with you to develop your detailed business plans, operating procedures and financial models. We can also match you with high-level people such as PhD-level horticulturists, facility design and scalability experts that understand the compliance regulations in your state, as well as local architects and engineers.
3. PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THE RFP FORMAT
Your cannabis license application can run up to thousands of pages. It requires you to follow explicit and strict guidelines regarding the size of your margins, choice of font, spacing, how it is bound, how many copies you need, etc. Each state has unique provisions.
In addition to the formatting details, you’ll need to bring in documents from a variety of different sources, such as each owner’s financial statements, personal information, finger prints, background checks, etc. Some of your high-level owners/investors may live all over the globe and someone needs to ensure that all this data is pulled together and submitted in the required format and that it all comes together into a seamless document: easy to read, expressed in one voice and effectively organized so it is clear and easily understood.
It takes tremendous attention to detail and longer than you might expect to complete this process. Cannabis business license applications can be rejected for simply forgetting to reference your application on the cashier’s check for the fee. You must employ someone with excellent computer skills and version control to oversee this process and get it right the first time. You cannot afford to miss the deadline because you underestimated how long it would take to format, print and bind your application.
How can you be sure you’ve submitted your best possible plan? You’ll need some expert advice. Canna Advisors has successfully completed this process many times and will partner with you to craft your application.
4. HOW WILL YOU APPROACH THE COMMUNITY?
There’s more than one way to approach your plans to open a Medical Marijuana business within the community. You’ll need to consider whether you prefer to be quite transparent with your plans and share information, spread the word and employ PR. Or, you might find it makes sense to remain low key and fly under the radar until your application is submitted.
- What if you have a locally well-known or even famous person involved as an investor? If that person has a positive following, will that influence people in your favor?
- Or, perhaps just because you have a well-known figure involved, you’ll be under more scrutiny.
You need to think about this and be prepared for how you want to project your plans to the public. Many people prefer to wait until after the application is submitted before sharing who is involved and what their plans are for a facility in the area. Canna Advisors recommends establishing a rapport with the local community as soon as you know you are going to conduct business in that area. The sooner the community feels comfortable with the individuals involved with the business, the better your chances of obtaining their support.
Canna Advisors offers assistance with all aspects of your cannabis business license application and has proven strategies for success. For more information, please get in touch or call us at 720.708.3154