6 Tips to Create a Successful Cannabis Business License Application

cannabis business license application

Preparing and submitting a license application for a new cannabis business can be an extremely long, daunting and complicated process. The process is also extremely competitive and as a result, it is crucial to have a compelling application that sets you apart from the other businesses vying for a limited number of licenses. The importance of being fully prepared cannot be stressed enough. If you wait to get organized until application deadlines are announced, it will be too late.

As legalization continues to move through the nation, many states are in the process of implementing regulated cannabis programs, including New Mexico, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, South Dakota and most recently Connecticut. If you are interested in opening a cannabis business in any of these newly regulated states, it is vital that you and your team are highly organized throughout the pre-licensing phase. The following tips will help ensure you are fully prepared for every step of the cannabis licensing process.

1. Clearly Establish the Details of Your Cannabis Business

The first thing you will need to do is clearly identify what your proposed business will do. This includes:

Who will be part of your team?

You will need to establish the specific roles and responsibilities for each included stakeholder.

What type of business you are opening?

Are you getting into the cultivation, processing, wholesale or retail distribution, transportation, social consumption or any combination of these license types?

Where your business will be located?

Real estate is among the most important aspects of the application process for cannabis licensing. The more specific you can be, the better. In some states, licensing bodies may give preference to applicants who have already secured their physical location and can demonstrate that it is properly zoned for your specific cannabis business.

How will you fund your business?

You will need to provide information about your investors and demonstrate that you have the funds, or proof of capital, to successfully launch and operate your new cannabis venture sustainably without interruption.

2. Build a Strong Team

cannabis business teamRunning a cannabis business will require a dynamic and experienced team as there is far too much for any one person to manage on their own. You will need to have a team of well-rounded professionals with complementary skill sets in place well before the start of the application process. Government officials reviewing license applications will want to see evidence that your team has the background necessary to successfully manage and operate every aspect of your business.

Make sure your team includes the following professionals:

  • Lawyers with extensive experience working in the cannabis industry
  • Accountants who have worked with clients in the cannabis industry
  • Individuals with strong government relations background
  • For cultivation operations – A cannabis cultivator or horticulturist who fully understands large scale cultivation and all other agricultural aspects of the business
  • For recreational dispensary operations – Retail professionals who understand the key aspects of POS systems, inventory control, customer service etc.
  • For medical dispensary operations – A Medical Director and/or Board of Advisors
  • Individuals from other highly regulated industries – Liquor, Gaming, Manufacturing etc.

You will also need to be able to demonstrate a track record of business success, either as part of a cannabis operation in other markets or a business venture in other, possibly comparable industries. The state licensing board will want to see that you have a strong track record of compliance with governmental regulations and the ability to get a complex business up and running.

It is also highly encouraged that you perform comprehensive, internal background checks on all of your team members prior to the application process. In addition to the required criminal background checks, members of your state’s licensing board will likely review the moral character of every stakeholder in the business, for which even small red flags in a person’s background can potentially derail your application. It is much better to be aware of any potential issues before you apply for a license and if necessary, you may need to consider replacing any team members who will not hold up to the high levels of scrutiny associated with this process.

3. Become Familiar with Your State’s Licensing Requirements

The cannabis business licensing process varies from state to state and even town to town. It is important that you understand both the state and the municipal regulations associated with obtaining a cannabis license. New cannabis businesses often need local licensing prior to receiving state licensing for adult use markets. When you create your application, you will need to ensure that you are complying with all applicable rules and regulations.

In addition, you will need to become familiar with your state’s licensing structure. Some states issue vertically integrated licenses that grant you the ability to cultivate, process and sell cannabis under one license. Other states, however, may require you to obtain separate licenses for each of the aspects of the industry that you plan to operate in. Therefore, you will need to know specifically which license applications apply to your business. Determining this early on will allow you more time to properly prepare your application.

4. Establish Relationships with State and Local Government Officials

It is beneficial to attend meetings with local and state government officials that focus on details associated with the new cannabis regulations. This will help you better understand what your state is looking for when they review license applications and possibly allowing you to tailor your application to align with state and local requirements.

As you attend these meetings, you will start cultivating personal relationships and establishing a dialogue with the government officials who are running your state’s cannabis industry, providing you an opportunity to explain to them exactly what your business will bring to the community. These connections can play a big role in your ability to secure an application.

5. Get Involved with the Local Community

"make a difference" sign - new cannabis business getting involved with local communityCommunity outreach is an absolute vital part of the application process. The officials reviewing your cannabis license application will want to see that you are truly committed to engaging with your community and not simply looking to benefit financially. Furthermore, your community involvement efforts should always be organic and sincere. And most importantly, you should maintain a strong focus on ways you can educate the people in your neighborhood about cannabis and the many ways that your business will benefit the entire community.

The best ways to understand the unique idiosyncrasies of the community is to simply get involved. This will help you establish plans that enrich the area beyond simply providing cannabis products. Giving back to the community in ways that are unrelated to your business will often help make the individuals in your area more welcoming as you begin to establish your operation.

6. Hire an Expert Cannabis Industry Consultant

As the cannabis licensing process has become extremely complex in recent years, it remains crucial that your team has a robust understanding of the technical elements associated with applying for a cannabis license. Experienced cannabis industry consultants have handled this process numerous times in different states and can provide the framework for how to best approach this very competitive process. Industry consultants are also going to be very familiar with the unique regulations associated with your city and state and can ensure that you properly address and include these as part of your application.

In addition to positioning your application for success, cannabis industry consultants can help you build out the specific details of each aspect of your operations. This will ensure you establish a strong foundation for a business that can sustain long term success.

American Cannabis Company Can Give You the Edge You Need When Creating Your Cannabis License Application

American Cannabis Company has nearly a decade of experience helping businesses navigate the competitive cannabis licensing process. Whether you are trying to open a business in a state that just legalized or a state with a previously established cannabis market, we will prepare you and your entire team for success.

We will work closely with you to understand your specific goals and identify the growth opportunities available for your chosen niche. All of our recommendations are customized based on your state’s specific guidelines and regulations, ensuring your license application aligns with all necessary requirements.

Working with our team of cannabis industry professionals will give you peace of mind that you are setting the proper foundation for long term success.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Mississippi Legalization: What You Need to Know

jars of marijuana on a prescription pad - Mississippi medical marijuana

In November, Mississippi passed Initiative 65 which legalized medical marijuana statewide. While the legalization hurdle has been cleared, there is still a complex process that must be worked through before the state’s MMJ program goes into effect. If you’re considering opening a medical cannabis operation in Mississippi, it’s crucial that you become familiar with the laws and regulations governing this fledgling industry.

The following information will provide you with a basic overview of the important points to understand regarding Mississippi’s new cannabis industry. For a more detailed explanation of what is involved in the process, we recommend that you speak with one of our expert consultants.

American Cannabis Company has extensive experience helping individuals open a new cannabis business in states that have just legalized. We understand the complex process involved, and we can set you up for success in your new business venture.

When Will Medical Cannabis Be Available in Mississippi?

Initiative 65 has set two deadlines to ensure the process moves forward in a timely manner:

  • July 1 – Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) must implement provisions of the amendment and issue rules and regulations for the medical marijuana program
  • August 15 – The state must begin issuing identification cards and licenses for treatment centers

Based on these deadlines, it’s possible that medical cannabis will be available sometime this fall. However, this timeline is dependent on how smoothly the process of establishing the state MMJ program goes.

Who Is Governing Mississippi’s Medical Cannabis Program?

The Mississippi State Department of Health will regulate the medical marijuana program. The MSDH is governed by an 11-member Board of Health appointed by the governor. The MSDH will be responsible for:

  • Issuing ID cards to patients
  • Licensing growers and dispensers of medical cannabis
  • Licensing caregivers who assist patients in obtaining and using cannabis
  • Establishing licensing fees and other qualifications

However, the MSDH will not have the ability to regulate the price of medical marijuana. While the state can’t charge sales tax on MMJ products, the MSDH will be able to assess surcharges up to the current sales tax rate in order to fund the regulation of the state medical cannabis industry.

What Are the Regulations Governing Cannabis Business Licenses in Mississippi?

a book displaying federal and state marijuana laws - Mississippi MMJ regulationsCurrently, Mississippi is only offering licenses for a “Medical Marijuana Treatment Center.” These businesses must be properly registered and licensed in order to engage in any activities associated with the processing or sale of medical cannabis. The is no limit on the number of licenses that can be issued statewide.

When preparing your application for licensure, it’s important to create a cannabis business plan. This plan must detail:

  • What kind of dispensary you plan on opening
  • How long you plan to operate in Mississippi
  • What the main points of your business are

It’s also important to understand that municipal regulations may vary across the state. Some cities and counties may have more favorable rules, while others may have regulations that are more restrictive to opening a new cannabis business. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to research these local laws before determining the location of your business.

Potential Challenges Facing Mississippi’s New Medical Cannabis Program

While the largest hurdle (passing Initiative 65) has been cleared, there are still several challenges to overcome as Mississippi rolls out their new medical marijuana program. Most importantly, the ballot initiative must pass a review by the Mississippi Supreme Court that questions the validity of the ballot measure. This ruling is expected to come shortly.

Once this review has been completed, the MSDH will be tasked with outlining all regulations associated with the medical cannabis program by the July 1 deadline. This will involve a steep learning curve for the MSDH since many of the items to be addressed lie outside of their current area of expertise. Initiative 65 allows for the creation of an advisory committee to assist the MSDH with their regulatory activities, and this should provide important guidance as they finalize the details of the new program.

Another significant challenge the state may face involves funding for the new program. Initiative 65 established $2.5 million in funding for the MSDH to use in association with creating the medical cannabis program. However, the MSDH believes this amount will likely only cover a fraction of the costs associated with this task. It has been estimated that closer to $10 million in funding will be required to adequately establish the new program. This may force the MSDH to request additional funding from the Mississippi legislature.

In addition to the shortage of funding, the MSDH may also face a staffing issue. The agency is already spread thin in their resources and staffing before being tasked with managing the new MMJ program. This added responsibility may potentially create an even greater strain on their limited resources, which may impact the rollout of this new program.

American Cannabis Company Can Help You Establish Your New Business

The legal hurdles associated with establishing a new cannabis business in Mississippi can be overwhelming. Regulations are still being formulated, and the licensure process is highly complex. It’s crucial that you have an experienced cannabis consulting partner who can guide you through the process and ensure your business is compliant with all regulations.

American Cannabis Company has helped a wide range of business owners establish cannabis operations throughout the country. We’ve worked with many businesses in states that had just legalized cannabis, and we understand the important issues that must be addressed in the early stages of a state rolling out their new program. Our team can help you navigate these legal hurdles in order to set your new business venture up for success.

We’re the only cannabis pre-license specialists in the United States with a License Right™ approach for obtaining a license and starting a new cannabis business. This approach involves:

  • Tailoring our recommendations to ensure they adhere to Mississippi guidelines and regulations
  • A detailed explanation of the opportunities available that meet your specific goals
  • Cohesive and comprehensive business planning
  • Our exclusive Green Profits Operations Roadmap™
  • Our Aligned Success Guarantee™

Our consultants will take a flexible approach that places your specific needs and business goals at the forefront of the process. We’ll collaborate with you to establish a detailed business plan that encompasses every aspect of your operation. By joining our community, you’ll benefit from working with a team that possesses the knowledge necessary to allow your new cannabis business to thrive.

If you’re interested in opening a medical cannabis business in Mississippi, it’s crucial that you start planning right away. American Cannabis Company can provide important guidance in the early stages of the planning process to set your new business up for success.

Schedule a Consultation

Please contact us today to schedule a consultation. We provide cannabis consulting services nationwide.

New Jersey Cannabis Legalization: What You Need to Know

This past November, New Jersey residents voted to legalize the recreational use of cannabis for individuals over the age of 21. Anytime a state first legalizes cannabis, it triggers a complex process that must be completed before operations can open for business. This process is already underway in New Jersey, as they have been acting fast to get their legal cannabis industry up and running.

The following information will provide an overview of important points you need to know if you’re interested in entering New Jersey’s fledgling cannabis industry.

When Will Use of Recreational Cannabis Officially Be Legal?

Newark road sign with a picture of a marijuana leaf - New Jersey Cannabis LegalizationWhile voters legalized adult use of recreational cannabis on election day, New Jersey lawmakers must pass a bill regulating the use of cannabis before it will officially become legal. While Senator Nicholas Scutari has expressed a hope that the bill will pass quickly, there is no exact timeline for when it will go into effect.

Senator Scutari and Senator Stephen Sweeney introduced Bill S-21 – “New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act” shortly after election day. Once it is ratified, the bill will make the personal use of cannabis legal for adults over the age of 21. It will also establish the Cannabis Regulatory Commission to oversee the cannabis industry in New Jersey.

What Is the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC)?

The CRC will consist of five individuals appointed by the state to supervise the development, regulation and enforcement of cannabis sales and consumption throughout New Jersey. The CRC will also be responsible for implementing the legislation passed as part of Bill S-21.

Currently, two of the five members have been appointed. Dianna Houenou has been selected as the CRC Chair, and Krista Nash has been named a member of the CRC. In addition, Jeff Brown, New Jersey’s Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Health, has been mentioned as a leading candidate to be the first CRC Executive Director. This is a logical choice, as he currently oversees New Jersey’s medical marijuana program.

The CRC’s regulatory powers are still being formulated. At the moment, we know the CRC will have the authority to:

  • Adopt, amend or repeal regulations controlling the cannabis marketplace
  • Grant, refuse, suspend, revoke, cancel or limit licenses and conditional licenses associated with the cannabis industry

Cannabis Licensure in New Jersey

New Jersey has currently established six classes of cannabis licenses:

  • Class 1 Cannabis Grower License – allows you to grow, cultivate or produce cannabis in the state
  • Class 2 Cannabis Processor License – allows you to manufacture, prepare and package cannabis
  • Class 3 Cannabis Wholesale License – allows you to store and sell cannabis strictly for the purposes of resale
  • Class 4 Cannabis Distributor License – allows you to engage in intrastate transportation of cannabis in bulk
  • Class 5 Cannabis Retailer License – allows you to sell cannabis directly to consumers
  • Class 6 Cannabis Delivery License – allows for the delivery of cannabis from a licensed retailer to the general public

In addition, the CRC will have the ability to create new license categories as they deem necessary.

Focus on Promoting Small Businesses

cannabis dispensary signThe current version of Bill S-21 reserves 25% of all licenses in each class for microbusinesses. The purpose of this addition to the bill is to prevent large interstate franchises from dominating the New Jersey cannabis marketplace.

To be classified as a microbusiness, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You can only have a maximum of ten employees
  • You can process a maximum of 1,000 cannabis plats each month
  • Your cannabis establishment cannot exceed 2,500 square feet
  • You cannot acquire more than 1,000 pounds of cannabis in dried form for retail, resale or processing each month

The current bill also places some restrictions on the ability to hold two classes of licenses at the same time. Once retail sales launch in the state, there will be an 18-month limitation on the number and classes of licenses that any one individual may hold. In particular, a licensed grower, processor, wholesaler, distributor or delivery service cannot also obtain a retail license, and vice versa. In addition, growers and processors will only be allowed to hold two concurrent licenses at first.

Applying for a Cannabis License

License applications won’t be processed until all members of the CRC have been appointed and all CRC regulations have been established. This will most likely happen during 2021.

You must submit your license application to the CRC. You must also apply for separate licenses for each location where you intend to operate. You can file a renewal application up to 90 days prior to the expiration of your initial annual license.

The first steps you should take in preparing for obtaining a cannabis license include:

  • Create an application team to handle the process
  • Make sure your corporate formation documents are filed with the proper entity
  • Think about the location of your new cannabis business

You’ll need to provide the CRC with proof of local support for the location of your proposed cannabis business. In addition, the CRC plans to prioritize applications based on impact zones. An area will be considered an impact zone if it contains a population of at least 120,000 people and ranks in the top 40% of New Jersey municipalities for cannabis-related arrests.

American Cannabis Company Can Help You Establish Your New Business

The process of establishing a new cannabis business in New Jersey is highly complex and will be fraught with a variety of legal hurdles. It’s crucial that you work with an experienced cannabis consulting partner who can ensure you navigate these complexities properly. American Cannabis Company can help.

We have years of professional experience in the cannabis industry, and we’ve worked with a wide range of entrepreneurs throughout the country as they establish businesses in states that have recently legalized cannabis. Our team understands the process involved in navigating these legal hurdles, and we can set you up for success in your new business venture.

We’re the only cannabis pre-license specialists in the country with a License Right™ approach for obtaining a license and starting a new cannabis business. As part of this approach, you’ll receive:

  • Recommendations that adhere to New Jersey guidelines and regulations
  • An understanding of the opportunities available that meet your specific goals
  • Cohesive and comprehensive business planning
  • Our exclusive Green Profits Operations Roadmap™
  • Our Aligned Success Guarantee™

At American Cannabis Company, we believe in using a flexible approach that focuses on your specific needs and business goals. We’ll work with you to create a comprehensive solution that establishes a framework for every aspect of your operation. When you join our community, you’ll reap the benefits that come when you’re surrounded by others who share your passion for cannabis. Our expertise can set your business up for success and allow you to thrive in the burgeoning New Jersey cannabis landscape.

Contact Us

If you’re planning on opening a cannabis business in New Jersey, it’s important to start planning now. By working with you in the early stages of this planning process, we can ensure your operations are set up properly every step of the way.

Please contact us today to schedule a consultation. We provide cannabis consulting services nationwide.