When setting out to complete a cannabis licensing application, many first-time cannabis entrepreneurs assume they need to hire an attorney from the get-go. However, what these budding business people really need is the help of a cannabis consultant.
A seasoned consultant knows the licensing application process inside and out and will be able to advise you on which tasks to outsource to an expert, such as an attorney. This comprehensive knowledge makes hiring a consultant both cost-effective and essential for winning a license.
Completing the entire application with an attorney, on the other hand, will likely prove to be a hefty — and avoidable — expense. The steep cost of a “full-service” cannabis attorney is often unjustified as outside services are frequently consulted, resulting in additional fees.
Confused? Don’t worry. We’re here to help you understand when to work with a consultant and when to hire an attorney so you can get the biggest bang for your buck and submit a winning cannabis licensing application.
The Attorney Dilemma
There seems to be a trend of applicants seeking lawyers for guidance throughout the entire process of acquiring their cannabis license. While there’s a time and a place for hiring an attorney, this usually isn’t it.
Attorneys may charge several hundred dollars an hour for their services. Plus, many attorneys — even those who claim to be “full-service” and well-versed in cannabis — often outsource much of the application work to consultants.
Instead of paying one price for the complete services promised, clients are hit with additional charges to cover the consultant fees. By hiring an attorney to handle the licensing application process, applicants can wind up overpaying for an underperforming service.
When to Hire an Attorney
Ultimately, attorneys are best at offering their specialized knowledge on matters regarding contracts, partnership agreements, corporate structure, and IRS codes, such as section 280E. Working with an attorney for these specific parts of a cannabis licensing application makes sense.
Seek out the support of a consultant to handle the majority of the application legwork. Your consultant will alert you of any sections that need a more specialized eye. Then an attorney — or another expert, such as a CPA — should be hired to fill in the gaps with their expert knowledge.
The Value of Working With a Consultant
As a former lawyer who worked with cannabis clients, I saw a significant need for consultants in the licensing field. It dawned on me that the cannabis industry would benefit from a knowledgeable consultant who possessed the work ethic of an attorney — so I pivoted to fill this role and joined the Higher Yields team.
Consultants understand cannabis licensing with a greater depth than attorneys do, which makes them the true authority on the matter. Attorneys, however, fill in the crucial gaps in specialized areas of focus. I was armed with the skills of both.
The value that a consultant offers saves a lot of headaches and provides a hands-on approach for the applicant. A consultant will pass along their comprehensive knowledge of cannabis licensing and forge a strategic path through the application process.
Striking a Balance
I recommend applicants seek out a full-service consultancy, and this is exactly what my team offers here at Higher Yields. Many of us are lawyers by trade, but offer the full-service suite of knowledge (without the lawyer rates!) of a consulting firm. We have the legal acumen and the business strategy and use both to the client’s benefit.
The significance is that the client ends up relying less on attorneys, putting dollars back into their own pocket. Plus, there are no loose ends when the bulk of the cannabis licensing application is completed in-house.
There are certain steps in which the client is directed to outsource an attorney, CPA, or an architect. But rather than hand off the assigned tasks, the team at HYC will work alongside these professionals to maintain support throughout the complex proceedings.
The value of hiring a consultant first and an attorney on an as-needed basis is that a balance is formed, making a once fragmented approach, smooth and cohesive.
A True Full-Service Approach to Cannabis Licensing
When seeking out the best consultant for your needs, be on the lookout for a package deal that offers the full range of support you’ll require. Find a consultancy that provides in-house guidance on security plans, financials, floor plan designs, compliance, and procurement.
With this kind of full-service package, you’ll sidestep the outsourcing fees that would normally be tacked onto your bill. As an added bonus, this collaborative team-oriented approach will ensure that your cannabis licensing application runs through a fluid system of operations.
It’s crucial that your consultant understands that working together creates synchronicity that isn’t found with disjointed outsourced teams.
Be sure to emphasize from the start of your business relationship that you only wish to outsource when you absolutely require a specialized expert. Ideally, this means tracking down a consultant who has legal knowledge but doesn’t serve as a legal advocate and charge higher rates.
The best consultant will know when to advise you to seek out an attorney. Likewise, the consultant well-suited for your needs will offer all the remaining services you need in one place.
Having the right plan of action to complete your cannabis license application can be tricky. The last thing you want is to pay higher rates for an attorney who will ultimately outsource the bulk of the work. To win a license in your state, you need a unified team on your side.
Our industry leaders are ready to work with you on streamlining your cannabis licensing application. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.