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Retail Cannabis Consultants: The secret to winning licenses

Pre licensing design, Sungrown Studio, California

The retail cannabis industry has come a long way, evolving and exploding in the last year. With cannabis laws and regulations established on a state level, each state will have its own unique marijuana programs, laws and regulations.

The stigma associated with cannabis use has been steadily decreasing, which brings entrepreneurs who want to participate in the multi-billion dollar industry. Most legal cannabis programs are still in their infancy, leading to loads of information and mis-information out there on how to get a seat at the table.

People who want to get into the retail cannabis arena can’t get into the industry without deep knowledge and insight into laws and regulation. While hemp is legal on a federal level, marijuana legalization varies from state to state, with each state having its own cannabis laws. Some have both legal rec and medical programs, while most only allow medicinal use of marijuana. Some states have only decriminalized marijuana by classifying possession of small amounts as a misdemeanor or punishable by a citation or fine. However, some states have not legalized cannabis on any level at all. Month by month this changes.

Navigating the complex cannabis industry can be nearly impossible to do entirely on your own. And why would you want to? The best way to enter the marketplace is by consulting with cannabis business experts. You may need a licensing consultant to fully understand and prepare for the wild industry you’re entering.

In this blog, we’ll talk more about what they do and how to choose the right one.

There are 5 main segments of the cannabis industry:

  • Breeder
  • Cultivator
  • Extractor
  • Manufacturer
  • Retail Dispensary

You want to look for a firm with a sharp focus on winning retail dispensary licenses. Eliminate all the others, they don’t apply to you. You wouldn’t hire a plumber to fix your roof? Same logic applies here.

There are four big components to what you will want your consultant to do for you.

Funding: It’s essential that you’ve got your legal funding in order to be a licensed cannabis business. Consultants compile all the documentation such as real estate, purchases, employee salaries and all other costs involved in becoming operational as well as align you with accountants and other pros to get you where you need to be.

Compliance + Community Outreach: This includes strategy development, market research, property acquisition, government relations, team building, regulation analysis, community outreach/support and stakeholder engagement. Unless you have been an active community member in the place where you plan to open, you will want some help getting to know the community.

Licensing: This is the one we talk about most with our clients, since retail cannabis design is our niche and falls into this category. We take care of the floor plan and renderings for you. Other aspects of this component that the consultants manage include application writing, equipment selection, security overview, project management, legal review, equitable development, standard operating procedures and subject matter reviews.

Operations: This includes the day to day of how your retail cannabis dispensary will operate post grand opening. Cannabis consultants help you manage it all in small bites which include: equipment procurement, production, labeling, packaging and branding, strategic partnerships, team building, federal lobbying, networking, onboarding and offboarding and client retention.

Cannabis applications are massive documents and typically take 4-6 weeks just to complete, on average. The exact requirements vary from state to state but most will require a business plan, standard operating procedures, strong financials, cannabis friendly real estate, a compliant floor plan, interior and exterior rendering and background checks.

That (and more) will be on your plate if you don’t hire one.

Photo Credit: Citiva, Brooklyn New York

So, how do you pick the right retail cannabis consultant?

Sungrown Studio is currently partnering with carefully selected retail cannabis consultants who share our values and mission. We are specifically interviewing women owned, BIPOC led consulting companies (in every state) who champion and serve social equity clients. This has always been at the core of our beliefs and we select partners who reflect our values.

Vet them. Interview them just like you would a new employee. Schedule a zoom (or three) and get to know them, their team and their process. Do your due diligence online and research their company. And reach out to other owners/friends and associates for referrals.

What does their website look like? Do their values and goals align with yours? How many years have they been in business?

Retail Cannabis consultants are in every state, and many work in all states. If you’re working on opening multiple locations across state lines, hiring a regional or nationwide consultant can be beneficial and we can help you with a license winning design.

Sungrown Studio has distilled our custom proprietary design approach, used in dispensaries around the world, into a pre-licensing package of your dream dispensary. We can customize your floor plan to reflect your unique retail location and your interior design style.

And as an added bonus, we have a freebie to make this process even easier. Join the waitlist to get access to our list of Minority and Women-Owned Licensing Consultants in every state! We are currently collecting info for newly legalized states, and it will be emailed to you as soon as it’s complete.