Succeeding at the Center of the Industry

Opening a retail dispensary can be one of the most rewarding ways to get involved in the cannabis industry. You are the critical link between cannabis producers and cannabis consumers. The retail experience you create for your patients or customers can improve their lives and shape the way they think and feel about cannabis.

But like other retail operations, the customer experience is only one small part of the picture. There’s an entire world of complexity behind the counter, including product selection and pricing, order fulfillment, inventory management, and staff recruitment and training. And unlike other retail stores, cannabis dispensaries must manage all these details within a high-stakes set of legal and regulatory requirements.

Where should you locate your dispensary? What products will you sell? How will you track sales trends and manage inventory? How will you train staff and educate customers? How do you ensure your business stays compliant and secure?

Get these details right, and you can find success right at the center of the cannabis industry. Canna Advisors will help you build for that success, with our expertise in facility location and design, staff recruitment and training, security planning, inventory management, quality control, patient education, and compliance.

Contact us today for a project-based assessment or hourly consultation to start planning and building your cannabis dispensary.

Retail -- and then some

Ever hear the line that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backward and in high heels? Think of cannabis dispensaries as the Ginger Rogers of the retail world.

All retail businesses face complex challenges. Retailers need a hard nose for business, a soft touch with customers, and a watchful eye on ever-evolving consumer and product trends.

But dispensary owners must have all of those things, while also navigating a web of regulatory complexity that affects every aspect of the business. Your average boutique on the corner doesn’t have to deal with restricted access for customers, regulatory rules about the movement of people and products through the store, or the need for extremely detailed seed-to-sale inventory tracking.

Canna Advisors will help you handle these challenges with grace -- setting up a highly engaging customer experience while balancing strict compliance and security requirements that can change quickly. Our team of experts has helped plan and open dispensaries across the country. We’ll guide your path from planning to licensing to a successful operation.

Is a Dispensary Your Best Business Fit?

Understand important cannabis dispensary considerations

cannabis dispensary risk, capitalization, operating complexity



The graphic above gives a general representation of the risks, capital needs, and operating complexity of a cannabis dispensary. These specific factors may vary depending on your business vision and state regulations.

Considerations and Guidance for Dispensary Owners

Let’s get down to some specifics. If you’re ready to begin planning for a cannabis dispensary, there are a number of essential factors you’ll need to consider right from the beginning. This list isn’t comprehensive, but you can’t get far with a successful dispensary business plan unless you have answers for these issues.

  1. 280E Taxation - Section 280E of the federal tax code prohibits businesses that sell Schedule I substances (which includes marijuana) from deducting their business expenses from their taxable income. So while every other legal business is subtracting staff salaries, rent, equipment costs, and marketing from the amount they pay federal taxes on, you’ll be paying taxes on all of that. Cannabis-savvy accountants have some strategies for mitigating the impact, but you should still expect the federal government to take a big bite out of your bottom line.
  2. Staffing - When it comes to running a dispensary successfully, safely, and compliantly, you are only as strong as your weakest link. Every member of your staff must be trained in and committed to the specific requirements of operating in the cannabis space. Mistakes, inadequate training, or shoddy record-keeping aren’t just bad for business -- they could ultimately put your dispensary license at risk.
  3. Location, Location, Location - The convenience of a location is the number-one factor for most consumers’ choice of a dispensary. But that’s only scratching the surface of your needs as a dispensary owner. As you consider retrofitting an existing space, or even building new, you’ll have to take into account the regulatory requirements for access and security, the size needed for optimal customer experience, and state-mandated zoning requirements, including distance from schools and religious institutions.
  4. Order Fulfillment - The fundamental point of a dispensary is to get great cannabis products into the hands of your patients and customers. But like everything else, that process is more complicated than you might first assume. How many people will be allowed on the retail floor at one time to service customers? Will you provide 1:1 consultations? Once a customer makes selections, how quickly can you have that order packaged and ready to go? Will you offer conveniences like delivery, pick-up, or kiosks, and if so, how will you manage processing those orders?
  5. Security - Dispensary owners must plan for a variety of security needs - some required by state and local regulations, and others demanded by the nature of the business. Like many other retail operations, dispensaries can be targeted for break-ins and theft from the outside, and skimming and inventory loss from the inside. Securing your cannabis business and providing a safe environment for employees is a serious concern that can be addressed with proper planning and the right equipment.

Are we having fun yet? We know all these questions -- plus high compliance burdens, significant startup costs, and intense competition -- can make opening a dispensary seem overwhelming. But that’s why we’re here to help. We have an extensive track record, with dispensary-specific expertise and detailed operating plans to help you break through and put your cannabis dispensary on the path for long-term success.

Get Started Planning Your Cannabis Dispensary

Expert dispensary guidance from start-up to operation


Boulder, CO


P: 720-708-3154info@thinkcanna.com

Keep In Touch

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.