The Benefits & Limitations of Cannabis Delivery & Transport

The Benefits & Limitations of Cannabis Delivery & Transport

The cannabis licensing process can be long and confusing, and it doesn’t help that there are so many options. Each state offers different types of licenses and refers to them by different names. Cannabis delivery and transport licenses are no different and can easily become overwhelming if you don’t understand them.

The Benefits & Limitations of Cannabis Delivery & Transport

As is true with any cannabis license, you have to know what you’re getting into. A transportation license is not the same as a delivery license. Each has its own benefits and limitations. Knowing these will help you choose the best option for your business.

This is what your cannabusiness needs to know about cannabis delivery and transport licenses.

What Are Cannabis Delivery & Transport Licenses?

Although the lines between transport and delivery are blurred in some states, more often than not, they require two completely different types of licenses. Understanding the function of each license can help you determine which type best accommodates your business.

A cannabis transport license essentially acts as a courier license. Licensees may move product from point A to point B, so long as both points are licensed businesses. Transport licenses do not include delivery to consumers.

Delivery, on the other hand, allows the movement of product from a licensed business to the end consumer, only. A delivery licensee cannot move product from one business to another.

Neither cannabis delivery nor transport licenses allow for the interstate movement of product. All licenses exclusively pertain to the transportation or delivery within the borders of a particular state.

Cannabis Delivery & Transport by State

With the cannabis industry regulated wholly at the state level, some key differences exist in transport and delivery between states. Keeping up with where states differ on cannabis delivery can help determine the best state to do business in.

Cannabis in California 

When it comes to cannabis delivery, California is the OG. The state’s laid-back attitude toward delivery has made it a beyond-popular way for consumers to enjoy edibles, flower, cartridges, and more. In fact, it’s become so pervasive that you’d have a tough time finding a stretch of highway without a billboard for cannabis delivery.

Often referred to as “non-storefront retail,” cannabis delivery is beginning to replace brick-and-mortar operations. Part of its appeal comes from delivery licensees’ ability to deliver to consumers across municipality boundaries.

It’s also worth noting that California does not offer a cannabis transport license. Instead, businesses require a distribution license to move product from one business to another.

While transportation and distribution licenses are pretty similar, some differences still exist. For example, a cultivator in California cannot use branding on its products. Rather the distributor handles the packaging, labeling, and branding of all products — in addition to moving them from business to business.

Colorado

Way back in 2014 — on a day known as Green Wednesday — Coloradans flooded dispensaries to buy recreational marijuana for the first time. However, it took many years for cannabis delivery to be permitted. 

Colorado saw the first delivery license for medical marijuana issued in the spring of 2020, and it wasn’t until 2021 that Denver allowed the delivery of recreational marijuana. Though cannabis delivery has grown more popular in the age of social distancing, it hasn’t taken off nearly as much as in California.

The Benefits & Limitations of Cannabis Delivery & Transport

Although delivery is relatively new to the Centennial State, cannabis transport has been around for some time. Referred to as a courier license, it allows licensees to move product between licensed businesses. 

Additionally, all regulated marijuana businesses in Colorado are granted some transport privileges, as well. 

New Mexico

Under the Cannabis Regulation Act, recreational marijuana became legal in New Mexico on June 29, 2021. This nascent cannabis market presents unique opportunities as well as challenges for cannabis delivery and transport. 

Knowing and understanding the nomenclature in your state is crucial. Applying for a courier license in Colorado means you’re a transporter, but being a courier in New Mexico means you deliver directly to consumers. 

Working with a professional can help you understand the different types of licenses and decide which is best for you. It also prevents you from accidentally getting into cannabis delivery when you really wanted to get into transportation.

New Mexico’s legislation also shows some promise for the future of cannabis delivery. In anticipation of federal legalization, lawmakers included provisions for interstate commerce, when it becomes legal. If your operation has big future plans, New Mexico may be the place to go.

Massachusetts 

With transport and delivery licenses, the Bay State continues to manage cannabis properly. State officials took their time rolling it out, but when they did, licenses were clear and straightforward, making it easy for existing businesses to move into the space with little confusion.

Since they launched the program, cannabis delivery and transport have taken off. Massachusetts business owners have even been pairing licenses to maximize success, much like what we’ve seen in New York.

How to Win a Cannabis Delivery or Transport License

No matter what state you’re in, there are a few general guidelines to follow when applying for a transport or delivery license — the biggest of which is staying compliant. Keep up with regulations and changes so that you can be ahead of the curve and avoid any costly penalties.

Your business must also be compatible with your state’s mandated tracking software — in California, Colorado, and Massachusetts, this is Metrc. However, relying solely on Metrc can be problematic.

Using a supplemental software, like OnFleet, that matches the needs of your business keeps operations running smoothly. In addition to tracking products, OnFleet allows you to consolidate routes, scale your business, and maximize efficiency.

At the end of the day, a successful cannabis delivery or transport business must be prepared for scrutiny. The state will keep a close eye on you, so take all the necessary steps to protect yourself. 

Although the barrier of entry is still low for transportation and delivery, cannabis is still a highly regulated industry laced with critical compliance benchmarks. In order to maximize your time and money, work with an experienced professional.

Book a consultation today to explore your options for securing the best license for your business.

Licensing & Business Considerations for a Successful Cannabis Lounge

Higher Yields Consulting Licensing & Business Considerations for a Successful Cannabis Lounge

As you plan to open a new cannabusiness or expand your existing operation, you’ll find there are a number of new licenses that may prove lucrative. One such new license is the on-site consumption license, which can be used to open a cannabis lounge. 

Higher Yields Consulting Licensing & Business Considerations for a Successful Cannabis Lounge

With the introduction of these on-site consumption licenses, there is great opportunity to influence the next stage of cannabusiness growth. But there are also limitations on these licenses that vary from state to state — and even by municipality. 

Read on to learn more about on-site consumption licenses and what you should consider if you are planning to open a cannabis lounge. 

States With Provisions for On-Site Consumption Licenses

Several states have provisions for on-site consumption licenses, but their requirements vary. While some states allow for a standalone on-site consumption license, others require that it be attached to another license, such as retail. 

The states with provisions for on-site consumption licenses include: 

  • Alaska: No cannabis lounges are open yet due to COVID-19 shutdowns
  • California: Cannabis lounges already operate.
  • Colorado: Allows cannabis lounges at a local level, in certain municipalities.
  • Illinois: Allows cannabis lounges, but without edibles.
  • Massachusetts: Allows cannabis “cafes.”
  • Nevada: Allows cannabis lounges, both with a standalone license and in conjunction with an existing retail facility
  • New Jersey: Has provisions for cannabis lounges, listed as cannabis consumption areas.
  • New York: Has provisions for cannabis lounges, and they can be standalone licenses.
  • Oregon: Cannabis lounges already operate.
  • Pennsylvania: There is only one cannabis lounge in the state, and it’s only open to medical cardholders.

Emily Seelman, Senior Technical Writer for Licensing and Legalese at HYC, notes that in some states, it’s up to the municipality to allow cannabis lounges or not. So you might be better off checking whether your municipality will allow it before you even look at the state at level. 

Obtaining a License for Your Cannabis Lounge 

The state in which you plan to operate will affect how easy it is to obtain your on-site consumption license. In some states, existing retailers can get an endorsement to also allow for on-site consumption. But, as noted above, other states allow you to apply for a standalone license.

According to Seelman, if your goal is to open a cannabis lounge, the standalone license is probably the better option. Without it, you’ll have to go through the competitive application process for a retail facility. 

If you plan to operate in Nevada or Massachusetts, especially, look into whether you qualify for social equity, as they’re planning to open up specific social equity licenses. A social equity license may help reduce your fees, but keep in mind that you’ll still be competing for the license. 

Nevada is also a great choice if you’re only interested in opening a cannabis lounge. The state is offering both the standalone license and one attached to a retail facility, which could open up opportunities for more people to get into the industry at once. 

Higher Yields Consulting Licensing & Business Considerations for a Successful Cannabis Lounge

Another state to consider for your cannabis lounge is New York. The state is taking a pretty open stance on public consumption that allows for cannabis consumption even on sidewalks, so it’s likely they’ll take an open approach to lounges, too. 

Seelman predicts that cannabis lounges will become like high-end bars, with controlled environments and — as New York is currently exploring — sound mitigation. However, one consistency across states is that no alcohol is allowed on cannabis lounge premises. 

Designing Your Cannabis Lounge Facility

If you are considering opening a cannabis lounge, HYC’s Design Build Director, Jesse Larson, says the facility itself is the all-important base of the business. “I’ve seen businesses with great teams, great work ethic, and great product fail because of poor facility design,” he notes. 

Unfortunately, some municipalities have made it extremely difficult for new facilities to enter the area, limiting or even eliminating opportunities for cannabusinesses that are not multi-state operators or corporations. Denver, for example, has made it more difficult to construct new businesses or modify existing structures. 

As a result, it’s tough to plan, design, build, and operate an ideal facility. But the facility is crucial to the success of a cannabis lounge, because you have to draw people in and make them want to stay. Larson observed that e-cigarette lounges learned this the hard way, as customers went in looking to make their purchases and get out — not linger.

As you plan your facility, Larson recommends considering how people want to experience cannabis, and how you can facilitate that experience:

  • Education. Give people a place to learn how to safely enjoy consuming cannabis.
  • Welcoming atmosphere. Think of a cannabis lounge as similar to a coffee shop, where people feel comfortable passing the time. 
  • Entertainment. Sometimes people want to sit and space out; other times they want to be entertained through media, food, beverages, etc.
  • Conversation. People crave social interaction. More than just a place to smoke, they’ll come to a cannabis lounge looking to socialize.

Finally, do whatever you can to create less of a burden on the customer to come in. Partnerships with Uber and Lyft, for example, can remove concern over potentially driving under the influence, encouraging more people to come inside and stay a while.

A New Standard for Cannabis Consumption

Remember that on-site consumption licenses and cannabis lounges are new. We’re setting a standard for the cannabis industry, so we have a responsibility to do it right and pave the way for future generations of cannabusiness owners.

Before you dive into the application process, it’s vital that you determine the most lucrative path for you and the actions that will best set you up for success. 

With New York’s licensing round just around the corner, give yourself the best chances of success with a strategic plan from our industry experts. Get in touch with HYC for a Feasibility Study today!

The True Cost of Your Cannabis Licensing Application

Higher Yields Consulting Cannabis Licensing: The True Cost of Your Application

Putting together an award-worthy application for cannabis licensing requires a lot of time, hard work, and capital. Industry hopefuls must understand the true cost of winning a cannabis license, as well as the potential revenue streams that license could make possible. 

Higher Yields Consulting Cannabis Licensing: The True Cost of Your Application
A view of a general cannabis sign on the front of a building.

From there, you can determine whether you want to work directly in cannabis or an ancillary industry. In the case of the latter, our Pivot Program can help! If you plan to go right into cannabis, though, your state directly impacts the cost of the application. 

The bottom line is knowing what you’re getting into. Follow along, and we’ll guide you through all of the costs associated with your licensing application.

Seek Out Expert Consultants

The first and most important investment any applicant can make is in a consultant. In fact, your choice of consultant can make or break both your budget and your application. More often than not, you’re better off with a consulting firm with a history of helping clients submit winning cannabis licensing applications. 

As opposed to lawyers, consultants offer the most thorough and affordable full application support. But before you hire one, be crystal clear on exactly what you’re getting. Some consultants aren’t clear as to what is and is not included, which essentially forces you to spend more money later on in the process.

As Emily Seelman, our Senior Technical Writer put it, at Higher Yields, “We pride ourselves on making it straightforward. We tell you ‘Here is what we include in our full coverage, and here’s what we don’t.’” 

Consider 280E Structuring & Cannabis Licensing Fees

As is the case with any business, you want to stay on the IRS’s good side. In cannabis, that means structuring your business to be compliant with Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code, which stipulates that cannabuisinesses cannot write off expenses because cannabis is still federally illegal.

Or, in the words of our Founder and CEO Cory Waggoner, “You can’t write off your mileage on your way to a bank robbery.”

Depending on the company’s size, it costs $5,000 to $10,000, plus state fees, to structure as a 280E business. That being said, it comes with plenty of benefits — like making you a more credible cannabis licensing applicant. If needed, the CPA who sets up your 280E compliance can even serve as the interim CFO on your application.

Application Fees

When it comes to the application itself, fees will largely be determined by the market in your state. If you apply in a state with high competition — like New York, Florida, Virginia, or Arizona — then the cost will surely be higher (think five to six figures).

On the other hand, low competition states offer a more affordable option with licenses being available for mere thousands. While these states — like Oklahoma or Massachusetts — make it less expensive to get in, their licenses are inevitably less valuable.

Other states, still, offer an option in the middle. Rather than charging a straight cannabis licensing fee, they make a portion of it refundable if you don’t win. This lowers the risk while maintaining the value of awarded licenses.

Work With Experienced Attorneys & CPAs

Cannabis-specific attorneys and CPAs play key roles in the application process as well, but not immediately. Although they both can do a lot, they tend to be expensive and lack expertise outside of their focus areas — legalese and accounting.

Higher Yields Consulting Cannabis Licensing: The True Cost of Your Application

Conversely, an experienced consultant will be able to tell you, “You should have an attorney review this,” or “This is something a CPA needs to set up.” That way you get everything you need without unnecessary costs.

Secure Real Estate

Another crucial component of your application will be securing real estate. In fact, it turns out to be one of the biggest upfront costs for new operators. For this reason, carefully mapping out and choosing cannabis real estate is one of the most important steps you’ll take.

As far as the cost of real estate goes, it varies. The size, geographical location, and number of potential buyers or tenants all impact the final price of the property. 

Even then, Seelman explains, “In competitive states, landlords or property owners will sometimes charge a deposit to engage in a letter of intent or a contingent purchase or lease agreement.”

Mapping Out Floor & Security Plans

With a location secured, you’ll need to map out a functional and profitable floor plan. In some cases, this task will be included in your consulting fees. If not, you’ll have to outsource it to an architect or engineer.

However, they don’t need to be stamped, official drawings. The floor plan is mostly for the state to see that your layout is designed for both safety and compliance.

Additionally, you’ll need an outline of your security plan. Like the floor plan, this may be included in your consulting fees, but overlays can cost an additional few thousand dollars., otherwise.

Licensing boards usually require cannabis security plans to be detailed and specific. All the way down to camera placement, window tint, and even your landscaping. Shrubbery, for instance, could be used as cover by would-be burglars, and you can be sure that the cannabis licensing board will point this out.

Assemble the Right Team Members & Operators

An expert team is the core of your operation, so you should assemble your team carefully and deliberately. Work closely with your consultant to assess the value of each candidate — especially the ones who charge to be on the application.

Also, be sure to thoroughly vet their history. Cannabis experience is a must, but an unclean record can sink your entire application. The same goes for any companies you work with. Always know what exactly they bring to the table and how it will improve your own operation.

Furthermore, Seelman warns “Some companies will charge for a letter of support. While there are some good reasons, you probably won’t need it. If this comes up, talk to your consultant to see if it strengthens your application.”

Hiring Lobbyists

In addition to your official team members, you’ll want to hire lobbyists. Their connections will add merit to your cannabis licensing application and boost your credibility. Although this system is far from ideal, cannabis is a highly politicized industry that’s fueled by a network of social connections.

Whether you have a single lobbyist or in excess of ten, Seelman explains that they should either have cannabis experience, tobacco experience, or a vast network of connections — preferably all three. Together, you and your consultant can weigh their expertise with their fees and make a decision.

The True Cost of Cannabis Licensing

From consulting fees to real estate, applying for and winning a cannabis license gets expensive. If you do it thoughtfully and with intent, you can maximize your chances of winning while keeping your expenses reasonable.

Certainly, though, the most important aspect is knowing what you’re getting into. Otherwise, the costs will keep adding up, which can quickly leave you overwhelmed.

Are you ready to invest in your cannabis operation? Book a consultation today, and learn more about what’s included in our consulting packages!

Applying for vs Buying Cannabis Licenses

Higher Yields Consulting Buying Cannabis Licenses: New vs. Existing

When it comes to buying cannabis licenses, there are two basic pathways you can take: applying for a new license or purchasing one that already exists.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 36 states allow medical-use cannabis and 18 states allow adult-use. Thus, the state you intend to operate in will greatly affect the best option for you. Other factors to consider include upfront costs, the risks involved, and your future plans for the business. 

Higher Yields Consulting Buying Cannabis Licenses: New vs. Existing

Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of the two pathways for buying cannabis licenses so you can make the best choice for your business.

Option #1: Apply for a New License

Going through the licensing process comes at a gamble, as winning a license isn’t guaranteed. But with the right resources and planning — and the right location — it can be less expensive up front and give you more options for setting up your business. 

Benefits of Applying for a License

Buying cannabis licenses through the application process gives applicants more flexibility to choose their location, as well as freedom to build their business from the ground up.

Most first-time applicants become interested in applying because they’ve heard that their home state is opening up, and staying local certainly has its advantages. The licensing and permitting process is smoother if you’re able to attend meetings and visit establishment locations in person. 

Depending on the state you choose, applying for a new license could also save you money. Most applicants spend around $200,000 to $300,000 compared to the $1 million or more that an existing license can cost to buy. Also keep in mind that non-competitive states like Oklahoma are cheaper and easier to acquire licenses in.

Finally, while applying for a new license has a fairly steep learning curve, it’s a great opportunity to learn about the industry in-depth and make solid network connections for future growth. 

Downsides of Applying for a License

A common mistake when applying for a license is waiting too long to start the process. This can weaken your chances of winning the license, thereby increasing the risk of losing not only money but also time, energy, and other resources. 

High-competition states exacerbate the risk involved. In New York and New Jersey, for example, you have the potential to generate far greater revenue than in a saturated state like Oklahoma, but they’re also much more competitive and thus much harder to get into.

If you don’t have lobbyists behind you, your chances of winning shrink even smaller, as you’re likely going up against teams with plenty of time, resources, and as many as 10 or more lobbyists advocating on their behalf. 

If you do succeed in winning a license, you’ll also have to expend more time, energy, and resources building the business from scratch. And if you’re entering a less expensive, more saturated market, you’ll need to create an exceptionally strong brand to stand out from the crowd. 

Option #2: Buy an Existing License

Buying cannabis licenses from a previous owner removes some of the risk, since you’re directly paying for a license instead of hoping to win one. But the tradeoff is potentially higher costs and absorbing any mistakes made by the previous license holder. 

Benefits of Buying Cannabis Licenses

If you can afford it, buying cannabis licenses eliminates the guesswork of the application process. And it can pay off fairly quickly: A license valued between $10 million and $40 million could be worth upwards of $100 million in five years. 

But it is possible to find someone willing to sell their license at a reasonable price. Operators who are burned out or not doing well may be willing to sell for less than other license holders. Alternatively, you can buy from a company that has the ability to win licenses but no desire to operate a facility themselves. 

Higher Yields Consulting Buying Cannabis Licenses: New vs. Existing

At HYC, we’ve developed a model where we’re able to apply our expertise to win licenses and acquire cannabis-friendly properties, then make them available to our clients at affordable prices to help them get a foot in the door to the industry. 

Our Dome project enables aspiring cannabusiness owners to purchase a license and cannabis real estate for as little as $3.5 million and build a potential $40 million-per-year company. It’s a perfect opportunity for people who want to operate but don’t want to go through the stress and hassle of securing property and winning a license. 

Downsides to Buying Cannabis Licenses

Of course, if you purchase an existing license, you don’t necessarily get to pick the state in which you operate. And you have less control over your business’s operations and design. 

You also have to deal with any restrictions that were placed on the license, such as time constraints or transfer restrictions. If the previous license holder was given a social equity discount for which you don’t qualify, you may even have to pay that discount back upon purchasing the license.

Worse, you may find yourself owning someone else’s mistake. Any compliance issues or bad history associated with a license — even those that happened under the previous license holder — may need to be disclosed when you renew the license or expand to another state. 

Choosing the Right Path for You

The best thing you can do when considering which path you will take is find a consultant that you trust to help you navigate the process. 

I previously worked with a client who was all set to buy a license. But first, I asked them to answer a few questions: What restrictions are on this license? Are there any liens or marks against it? Are the license holders under social equity, and who will be responsible for the price increase?

They couldn’t answer any of these questions and ended up dodging a huge bullet. That’s why, whether applying for or buying cannabis licenses, it’s important to get in with a consultant who really understands the process and requirements.

For more guidance on buying cannabis licenses, reach out to schedule a consultation.

Cannabis Licensing Applications: When to Work with Consultants v.s. Attorneys

Higher Yields Consulting Cannabis Licensing Applications: Working With Consultants and Attorneys

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. 

Higher Yields Consulting Cannabis Licensing Applications: Working With Consultants and Attorneys

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.

 

Higher Yields Consulting Cannabis Licensing Applications: Working With Consultants and Attorneys

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.

Gaining the Upper Hand in Your Dispensary Application

Higher Yields Consulting Gaining the Upper Hand in Your Dispensary Application

Your ability to claim victory with an approved dispensary application in hand comes down to a handful of effective strategies that require consideration, planning, and education. 

Higher Yields Consulting Gaining the Upper Hand in Your Dispensary Application

Completing a dispensary application is not a solo endeavor; you need to know who to turn to for expert advice along the way. After all, professional support is not just the cherry on top it’s the foundation of your success. 

Here’s how to decide whether a dispensary application is right for you and how to gain the upper hand when filling one out.

Is a Dispensary Application Right for You?

Running a dispensary is a fairly cut-and-dry operation. Your capital investments will zero in on your point-of-sale systems and the product you are selling. 

Manufacturing and cultivation operations, on the other hand, require not only investing in pricey equipment but also adhering to complicated Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements

It’s not surprising, then, that many aspiring cannabis business owners will opt for the dispensary route. Those who are willing to put in the extensive time and energy that it takes to fill out a dispensary application and grow a successful cannabis business will come out on top. 

Once you’ve decided a dispensary is the right choice for you, you’ll need to fill out your dispensary application. 

Filling Out Your Dispensary Application

A dispensary license is more accessible than a cultivation license, but more accessible doesn’t necessarily equate to an easy dispensary application process. 

An unforgiving rating from the rigorous scoring process can prevent you from breaking into the cannabis industry altogether. But with the right support and preparation, the business opportunity may be within your reach.

Seek Guidance 

Surrounded by ambitious participants at a convention geared to educate applicants in Illinois, Medical Marijuana Program Director Joseph Wright gave insights on how best to approach the dispensary application process. 

According to Wright, a dispensary application will ask for “business plans, who will be involved and what their expertise is, how records will be kept, and how employees will be trained.” 

Higher Yields Consulting Gaining the Upper Hand in Your Dispensary Application

Making new contacts is especially important given the challenges you will face in this fresh industry. Refrain from approaching a dispensary application on your own and instead seek professional guidance from a cannabis consultant like Higher Yields Consulting (HYC)

Our team of experts can help your business gain a foothold from the competition and put its best foot forward on your dispensary application.

Define Your Challenges 

Like any business, a dispensary will face its own challenges, such as market saturation, market demand, and employee turnover. By anticipating your potential hurdles early on, you can address them before finalizing your dispensary application.

Notably, location can make or break a cannabis business, so investing the time into finding the perfect spot – while keeping in mind your local zoning laws – is an absolute must. Ideally, you’ll have a space selected before you even start your dispensary application.

We’d also advise making connections with pillars in the community and ensuring they are open to a cannabis business setting up shop in their town. 

Screen the Market Regions 

When choosing the most profitable path for your business, the state you are in can make all the difference. If you’re not sure where to set up shop, here are a few states worth considering:

For applicants interested in putting down business roots on the east coast, Massachusetts is a lucrative hot spot for its low-barrier entry and robust cannabis market.  

Michigan is another prime location thanks to its steady customer traffic. Yet, there are far more roadblocks as many of the state’s municipalities frown upon the cannabis industry. 

Illinois dispensaries that would normally be up and running are at a standstill with their applications, so consumer demand has skyrocketed. That said, expect to face many dead ends and litigation issues because the social equity section of the application tips the scales, often resulting in an unfair tally system. 

Compared to those of other states, Oklahoma’s dispensary application is easy. The catch, however, is that the market is only open to medical marijuana dispensaries. 

Wherever you choose to open your cannabis business, a dispensary application is just one target of many that you need to meet to get your dispensary license. It’s not an overnight process, but if done properly, you’ll be joining a growing industry in its early years of development. 

If you are seeking support in completing your dispensary application and acquiring a license in your state, reach out to us to schedule a consultation.

The Cannabis Licensing Guide: 4 Strategies for Success

Higher Yields Consulting The Cannabis Licensing Guide: 4 Strategies for Success

The cultivation of a successful cannabis operation starts with a single crucial step: winning a license. However, even that first step involves a long process that requires time, effort, and expertise. This cannabis licensing guide will help ensure your business is a strong candidate for licensing.

If you’re hoping to win a license, the time to start preparing was yesterday. After all, advanced planning isn’t a luxury, it’s a strategy. Beginning as soon as possible gives you time to secure real estate, lobby local officials, and become compliant. Starting ahead of schedule is one of the smartest strategies for winning a license.

Higher Yields Consulting The Cannabis Licensing Guide: 4 Strategies for Success

Along with proper preparation, effort, and a head start, our cannabis licensing guide will help your budding business nail the application and get licensed in no time.

Location, Location, Location

In any industry, real estate plays a huge role in business success. In the cannabis industry, that role is even larger. The majority of states require applicants to have commercial real estate locked into place, and a lack thereof usually results in the applicant’s disqualification.

Whether your business opts to buy or rent a space, our cannabis licensing guide suggests considering two primary elements. First, make sure your site is in a Green Zone — that is, a place where cannabis operations are allowed. Green Zones will allow you to narrow your search and stay compliant with local zoning regulations.

Then, evaluate the return on investment (ROI) of potential locations. This analysis of local competition, product demand, and other factors will reveal the most lucrative locations for your business.  

Controlling Your Capital

On the financial side of the industry, most states want to see short-term operating plans and long-term financial sustainability. To achieve such sustainability, we suggest engaging with investors without compromising company equity.

Cannabis investors infuse your operation with the capital necessary to grow. Solidifying your investors early and continuing to engage with them builds a relationship that yields financial security. However, companies should avoid giving away too much equity in the process.

Especially in states with low start-up costs, operators may be tempted to award investors large shares of equity. Giving away too much up front can leave your business vulnerable if you need to pay employees in equity or fundraise again later. 

Striking a balance between raising liquid capital and maintaining equity is crucial for successfully navigating the cannabis licensing process.

Assembling an Expert Team

A cannabis operation is only as strong as the team behind it. Putting together a core team of experts will, throughout the process of cannabis licensing, guide your business to future success.

Strategically selecting your core team based on business acumen gives your operation a competent and diverse foundation. Additionally, varying degrees and types of experience among your team looks good on applications. In particular, most states like to see teams with experience in ancillary cannabis businesses.

Operators & Management Staff

Outside of the core team, experienced cannabis operators and management staff bring more value to the table. Experts who understand the ins and outs of the industry and have multi-state experience can fill expertise gaps on the team.

Furthermore, your choice of operators and management staff may benefit your future goals. For example, some businesses choose to begin solely as dispensaries and eventually grow into cultivation as well. In these cases, operators with vertical integration experience in both areas look very attractive on applications.

Security & Legal Compliance

If there’s anything that can easily sink your business, it’s a lack of proper security and compliance. For this reason, our cannabis licensing guide, along with countless other blog articles, emphasizes the importance of such measures.

Anyone can write a security plan, and there are plenty of cookie-cutter templates available. However, these avenues don’t set you apart from the competition. A comprehensive, thoughtful, and robust security plan demonstrates that you understand the risks in the industry as well as how to effectively mitigate them.

That being said, don’t promise more than you can provide. If your plan is too ambitious or too expensive to implement, then the state will likely deny your application. Because of this, businesses should aim to design a plan that balances necessary security with financial viability.

Higher Yields Consulting The Cannabis Licensing Guide: 4 Strategies for Success

Additionally, staying compliant with local and state regulations is crucial for remaining in business. In states that require METRC, the process can be confusing at first but is ultimately very effective. 

If your state doesn’t require METRC, be sure to vet and test your inventory system thoroughly to avoid any costly errors. Also, look for a system that can easily be integrated with METRC should your state someday require compliance.

Navigating the dynamic landscape of local and state regulations can be exhausting and time-consuming. Here at Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting, we’re lucky to have Director of Compliance, Marissa Cortes, helping our clients stay on top of regulations.

Cannabis Licensing: Guide Your Business to Success

The cannabis industry is a difficult industry to start in, but advanced preparation can set you up for success. By following the strategies we’ve set out in our cannabis licensing guide, your operation will be well on the way to winning a license.

Are you looking to maximize your opportunity to win a license? Book a consultation and work with our crack team of seasoned professionals!

Bermuda Prepares for Legalized Cannabis

Bermuda Prepares for Legalized Cannabis

Crystal blue waters and pink sands may be the key to Bermuda’s charm, but thanks to a new proposal from the island’s government, Bermuda looks to be moving towards legalizing cannabis. On June 3, 2020, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Kathy Lynn Simmons announced the Bermudian government’s intention to fully legalize and regulate cannabis for adult use by the end of the year.

Higher Yields Consulting: From Pink Sands to a Green Rush: Bermuda Prepares for Legalized Cannabis

Simmons has released a draft of the Cannabis (Licensing and Regulation) Act 2020 for public comment. For anyone paying attention, this comes as no surprise. Change has come incrementally to Bermuda, first with a decriminalization bill in 2017, and then with a move to legalize hemp in 2019.

With full adult-use legalization on the horizon, a new world of opportunity is emerging in Bermuda. Here’s what you need to know.

Bermuda & Cannabis: How We Got Here

Though Bermuda’s government has taken swift and decisive steps to legalize cannabis in 2020, regulation is hardly a new topic of discussion. In 2018, the possibility of expanding patient access to cannabis-based treatment was being explored. However, when the proposal was brought forward for public consultation, it was met with unexpected criticism — and not in the way one would assume. The overwhelming consensus was that the government’s aspirations, impressively proactive though they were, didn’t go far enough.

Full legalization was demanded. Bermudians wanted a simplified framework that would allow all citizens to participate, no matter their economic standing. They also wanted help to bring a semblance of social equity, which was especially important because of the stark economic disparities that have long been a part of island life.

Bermuda’s population is basically made up of rich and poor with no prevalent middle class to speak of. As an island nation, Bermuda relies on imports for many everyday staples, which pushes up the cost of living and further widens the divide between the haves and the have-nots.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated these circumstances. With international travel ground nearly to a halt, Bermuda’s tourism-based economy has taken a catastrophic hit, leaving an overwhelming number of Bermudians with no way to make ends meet.

It’s no coincidence that the Bermudian government has now decided to accelerate the cannabis legalization process. In fact, the pandemic’s economic impact has been directly cited in documents for public consultation on the topic. As of July 3, 2020, the window for submission of public comments officially closed, setting the stage for the bill’s final adjustments ahead of becoming law.

Setting Up the System

Public documents released thus far have cited the regulatory frameworks of Canada and neighboring Caribbean nations as Bermuda’s inspiration. However, U.S. industry operatives will also find similarities to the framework of Colorado.

Higher Yields Consulting: From Pink Sands to a Green Rush: Bermuda Prepares for Legalized Cannabis

Regulations will be overseen by a five-member board — the Cannabis Advisory Authority — selected from the “disciplines of health, scientific research, business, planning, and agriculture.” The Authority will be responsible for advising on policy matters, the distribution of educational materials, the execution of training programs, and the receipt and submission of licensing applications. The Authority will also give recommendations on approvals and refusals. Let’s take a quick look at the broad strokes of the proposal:

  • Adults age 21 years and older will be permitted to carry up to seven grams on their person.
  • Personal cultivation will be allowed but will require an annual license of $750.
  • Individuals with prior cannabis convictions will NOT be automatically barred from participating in the new industry.
  • Retail cannabis outlets will be required to submit to an inspection by the Commissioner of Police a minimum of once every six months.
  • Retail cannabis outlets will be permitted to allow consumption on their premises with the proper licensing.
  • Licensing will be required for every level of the vertical, including cultivation, importing, exporting, manufacturing, retail, transportation, and research.

The Bermudian government is implementing rigorous protocols to ensure that the system can’t be scammed. Still, excessive regulations are being adamantly avoided so as not to unduly burden aspiring participants.

Pushback

Despite the overwhelming popularity of legalization among Bermudians, not everyone is happy with all of the details of the proposal. According to an article in the Royal Gazette, Social Justice Bermuda — an activist organization — has taken issue with the $750 licensing fee for home cultivation. The group argues it will disproportionately exclude Black citizens from taking part in the legal growing scheme. Moreover, Social Justice Bermuda argues that such an exclusion would only further encourage illegal activity.

While there has been no direct response to this objection as of yet, the statements that have been released do bode considerably well for Social Justice Bermuda’s agenda. In her update on the public consultation,  Attorney General Simmons stated emphatically that all comments submitted by the public were being considered. The update also noted that license fees were being re-evaluated in hopes of finding a balance between the costs of all available licenses and “to achieve the best participation for under-represented or marginalized groups.”

The Island Way

Throughout all of this—the language of the bill, the process by which they created it, and the consultations by which they refined it, one thing is abundantly clear: This piece of legislation is for the people.

bermuda cannabis consulting

There’s no buying or selling of licenses allowed, meaning it won’t become a game of Monopoly for the rich. Bermudian citizenship is also required for participation. Most importantly, the Bermudian government has made it clear that their goal is to tip the scales in favor of the underclass. They’ve doubled down on that assertion through a rare attentiveness to the populace and a dynamic response to their concerns.

Still, even the most reasonable of regulations can prove to be an arduous regimen for the average entrepreneur to tackle. Having a green thumb or a silver tongue doesn’t typically correlate with a propensity for bureaucratic details. Those are the Devil’s domain, according to the old cliché.

As the Bermudian government takes the final few steps to make the dream of legalization a reality, an entirely new territory of opportunity will be opening. If you’re a Bermudian approaching this new opportunity with a plan and a passion, make sure you’re equipped to stake your claim.

If you’re not sure where to start, we here at Higher Yields Consulting can help. Since 2008, we’ve been putting our diverse skillset to work for the cannabis industry — both in the U.S. and abroad — and have consistently garnered stunning results for our clients.

Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation.

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Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting

Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting

Higher Yields Consulting is a Marijuana Consulting Group comprised of industry experts with decades of combined experience in the legal industry. Whether you are looking to get into the business or already have a license we can help your business succeed. Call (844) HI-YIELD to schedule an initial consultation.

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