Cannabis Licensing 101 – Part 2 of 2
On the second episode of the Higher Enlightenment Cannabis Podcast our host, Adam P. Kolbach, discusses Cannabis Licensing 101. Our guests are Emily Seelman, Higher Yields Lead Application Writer and Licensing Guru. Cory Waggoner, the Founder and CEO of HYC, will also be joining us to discuss some of the basic services that can help individuals seeking out a cannabis license.
Cory Waggoner, Emily Seelman, Adam Kulbach
Adam Kulbach 00:13
Welcome to the higher enlightenment podcast brought to you by higher yields cannabis consulting Hello and welcome to the higher enlightenment podcast brought to you by higher yields cannabis consulting your seat to scale Cannabis Business Solutions team and the creators of the innovative cannabis consulting business solution system, hire enlightenment. My name is Adam and I am part of the creative design team here at higher yields. And I’m here to introduce and give a little background on the higher enlightenment podcast. So what are these podcasts about? The higher enlightenment podcast was created to discuss everything cannabis. Whether it be Cannabis industry news, cannabis industry insider insights, advice and tips to establish your own successful cannabis business and cannabis pop culture in general. Also be discussing Cannabis News from around the globe. A new episode of the higher alignment podcast will be released every two weeks. The first episode features Corey Wagner, the CEO and founder of higher yields. And Emily Siegelman, our lead technical writer, they will be discussing licensing from a bird’s eye view. This is part two of a two part series. Now, let’s get in life. Oregon Emily, we appreciate your choosing our data. And to make this experience more enjoyable for everyone, we hope you’ll refrain from talking during the show. Thank you. As the conversation progressed, it seemed pretty obvious to me that the cannabis licensing process was a team process between consultants and client, how much responsibility lies with the client? And how much responsibility lies on the consultants themselves?
Cory Waggoner 02:46
Yeah, and we, you know, we get that question a lot when we get into these projects. And I think sometimes people feel like they’re just gonna write a check, and we’re gonna show up with all the documents and they’re gonna win. And that’s simply not how these how these projects work. You know, generally the client is hands on, from the beginning to the end, you know, we’re, we’re, we’re writing up and drafting documents, but it’s up to them to kind of review them and make sure that we collected all the information correctly, because at the end of the day, this, this is about them. And we want to make sure that we got all the details, right. And you know, further than that, you know, usually once a client’s had a chance to kind of put their hands on the work product, generally, they’re able to say, Okay, this looks good, but you know, maybe we could add something on this, or, Hey, you know, I did some, you know, charity event two years ago, or, Hey, we have this contact with the state, you know, being able to have that back and forth and dialogue and just knowing just clients knowing that this is all hands on board until it’s pencils down. I think that’s crucial. And some clients, you know, they choose to be more involved than others, like we can do these, you know, with a few interviews, we can get these things set up and get people headed in the right direction. But, you know, to really win these things, I mean, it takes it takes a good team on both sides. And it takes a lot of hard work on both sides.
Emily Seelman 04:09
So higher yields, is particular about the clients that it chooses it, we choose clients who are committed to the process. And not only that, we want clients who have a positive attitude. And I cannot understate that, or overstate that enough. They, we want clients who are in this to win it, and we’re competitive. We want clients who are thirsty to win, and they want this just as bad as we do for them. And we want that communication process throughout the whole the whole experience. So we want clients to be involved with in this with us. And so we expect that from clients and we expect that type of work. There’s a lot of things where, you know, if we were to draft this all on our own, they could look at it and say, well, this doesn’t paint the picture of who I am or who my team is. And that’s what’s so important about working with these clients because we want this to be over flexion of view, we want you to look at the application and see a mirror of your team and the work you’ve put into it. And we want to build you that Goldstar application. So we don’t accept all clients. We’re we are particular about who we accept. But we do only want the clients that are serious about winning and will do what it takes to one
Adam Kulbach 05:17
part of the cannabis licensing process involves crafting a business plan. So I decided to ask Cory and Emily about business plans, how they differ from an everyday business plan, as compared to a business plan that you’re using to try to get awarded a license.
Cory Waggoner 05:36
Sure, yeah. And you know, in cannabis, there’s, there’s kind of two different types of business plans, sometimes an application will have a requirement for a, quote, business plan. A lot of times, that’s more of a kind of an operations plan of how the business is going to operate that they’re looking for. But in the more traditional sense of business plan, usually, this documents used for one of two, or both things, of giving some guidance to the business of where they’re going, what they’re trying to do, how they’re going to do it, the competitors in this space. And the other side of it is really to raise capital, you know, because generally, people are creating business plans to, you know, raise 5 million $10 million to go apply for a license and build a grow facility. And in whatever state or country it is, it’s important to have a plan because, you know, a goal without a plan is just a dream. And without being able to, you know, know where you started and where you’re going. One, a lot of people don’t take you very seriously. And two, it’s very hard to stay on track, when you don’t have anything to kind of reference back to, to show where you were and where you thought you’d be and where you are. And, and a business plan isn’t necessarily something that’s like in stone, hey, here’s how we’re going to do for the next three years. I mean, even like, ah, YC, you know, we’ve, we’ve diversified into different areas. And it wasn’t because I wanted to, necessarily is because the opportunity was there. And sometimes in business, especially in emerging industries like cannabis, things change, and they change pretty quickly. And you can either try to, you know, force it through, or sometimes it’s just easier to go with it, you know, and and kind of see where it takes you. As far as why to kind of go with H yc. I mean, I think the main thing is we’ve, you know, we write a lot of business plans, we’ve done a lot of market research and things not just domestically, but also internationally, we’ve we’ve written business plans all over the country. And this year, you know, we’ve written a couple business plans for Argentina $200 million dollar capital raise, and Hong Kong, Malta, Portugal Sutro. So some really interesting projects, and you know, all the wild people reaching out to us and each one being different, because each one of these areas kind of has different rules, regulations, and you really need somebody who understands the industry to come in and kind of dissect those models, because each model is going to create certain opportunities that maybe other models don’t, you know, for example, applications, we generally talk about applications as merit based applications and real estate based applications. states like Colorado where you check the boxes, you have your real estate, no felonies, and you got some money, here’s your license go wild. Whereas other states, you know, like New Jersey, you know, it’s very competitive. So, you know, in Colorado, the prices have dropped a lot faster, because there’s such a saturation of licenses and product on the market, whereas other places like New York and Florida, where they had a competitive merit based system, those those those licenses, one are worth drastically more than they are in other areas. And they also they also, you know, have other opportunities, you know, and different models to kind of capitalize on so, you know, having somebody who’s a professional and understands this niche industry, writing your business plan is a huge help. And really, you know, you’re starting, you’re starting from day one. So if you get off on the wrong foot, it’s it’s going to be a lot of hard lessons learned. But if you can go to somebody who’s already learned those lessons and kind of learn from their bad beats, it’s going to be to your benefit.
Emily Seelman 09:25
So business plans are really a foundational piece to permit applications first state. So when you’re applying a state’s going to look with a very critical eye, what you’re answering with business plan questions in your application, a state may not necessarily look at your full business plan or ask for your full business plan but they are going to ask key questions that are going to be pulled from that. And so they the state really wants to make sure that the applicants that they are going to approve for a permit are strong and are going to survive it’s competitive market. It It’s there’s a lot of challenges. And the state needs to be sure and looking at a business plan and asking questions related to business plans is going to be a foundational piece across the board for any state that you apply. And so after you win an application, that’s where your team’s going to want the full business plan. And you’re going to need to seek support to build that out, because you need to make sure you can not only pass your audits, but that you can build out quickly. This is not just a simple startup company, this is a startup cannabis company. And that’s unique in and of itself. So not only are you looking to build a startup, but you have to build it very quickly. You have to build it sufficiently, and you have to pass your audits very quickly. And you know, you could get fine, you could get delayed, you could get a suspension of your license, potential revocation of your license if you don’t pass your audits and, and a lot of that falls within your business plan and how your operational pieces are running. What are your processes look like your SOPs, then most importantly, this is how you secure investments you need to outshine your competition, you need to get the money you need the financial support you need to grow on the back end of this when you’re trying to build your business. And these investors want to know that their money secure, how are you gonna protect your money? And these business plans answer that. So higher yields has just as much just as much experience in in drafting business plans as we do in preparing applications. So none of this happens without a business plan, higher yield Tassie experience to provide that and we know exactly what you need to put in there to win not only a license but also when your investments.
Adam Kulbach 11:47
will return to the higher enlightenment podcast in a moment. higher yields is happy to introduce our new national cannabis real estate networking group, this network of brokers, sellers, buyers, landlords, and developers from all over the country. monthly benefits of a membership include a newsletter containing important industry insight from the professionals at higher yields Cannabis Industry Reports noted by each YC researchers and CPAs unlimited listings on our real estate website, educational videos, video conference calls with the entire HVAC real estate network, get more listings, close more deals, be educated by industry professionals, keep up with industry changes, and newly emerging states be part of the growing brand. Join the network today to start succeeding in the cannabis real estate industry. To sign up, for more information, please visit the link in the description below. Or call 844 high yield. You can also visit our website at www higher yields consulting.com. We now return to the higher enlightenment podcast brought to you by higher yields cannabis consulting. At this point in the conversation, I decided to ask about teamwork again, when it comes to cannabis business plan, what responsibilities lie on the client and what responsibilities lie on the consultants themselves?
Cory Waggoner 13:32
I think you know, with a business plan, generally it works a lot like an application, you know, we can write a business plan without too much from the client. But the more that the client wants to be kind of hands on and help us really enhance that plan is going to be a big help. You know, as far as what’s included with it, generally we deliver three things we deliver the narrative, which is going to be an overview of the business, some of the market research, maybe a competitive analysis, maybe an overview of the regulations, like each business plan is a little bit different. And again, it’s kind of custom to what the client is trying to do. The second piece that we’re going to deliver those going to be your financials. So that’s going to be you know, all the financial projections that we’re estimating and, and having somebody with, with a good understanding of what these businesses actually profit and how they operate. It’s gonna make a big difference in your financials, because you want to make sure you know, when you do bring this to an investor, it needs to look real. And for it to look real, you really need an accountant or somebody who’s who’s had their hands on these types of businesses before. The third thing we we bring people as a pitch deck. So generally the pitch deck is just kind of the first thing you’re going to send out to your investor to kind of test their interest and to show you know, kind of build a little bit of anticipation of what it is that you’re doing and how it is you’re going to do it. Then the business plan is then delivered with the financials for them to actually get a better breakdown of what is going to go into this business, how much is it going to cost? What’s your ask? You know what, what is the what are you giving the investor in exchange for that? all really important things and all extremely helpful and making people look organized as they start to make that venture into raising capital.
Adam Kulbach 15:20
The cannabis licensing process differs from state to state and country to country. So where exactly this higher yields cannabis consulting provide licensing services?
Cory Waggoner 15:33
Yeah, so we offer those services, domestically and internationally. So any state where cannabis or hemp is or any country that’s looking to legalize, they’re looking for license holders, those those are, we’re pretty much open to to working anywhere.
Adam Kulbach 15:52
I presented Korean Emily with a hypothetical, I granted them both a million dollars, and asked them, if you could go and start a cannabis business, what state would you apply for a license in and why?
Cory Waggoner 16:08
As far as the best states, it’s kind of hard to say, you know, it kind of depends on your position. If you got a lot of money, and a lot of good contacts, you know, you want to go to a competitive state, you know, because you have an opportunity to get ROI on your investment instantly. Whereas maybe if you want to be a little bit long, more long term player and get a little bit more hands on experience, you know, states like Colorado, or Michigan or Oklahoma, where they’re a little more progressive and a little less strict on licensing, you know, are good ones. But overall, I think it’s somewhere in the middle. You know, I think that Colorado, there were a lot of people who got involved in it that didn’t really know what they were getting themselves into. And a lot of businesses went out of business, because it is hard. It’s not an easy industry. But in the same, you know, some of these merit based states, it’s, it’s really hard to keep it fair, you know, it’s like if somebody shows up with $100 million, and a whole bunch of lobbyists, you already got, you know, you’re you’re already getting killed. And, you know, kind of knowing where, where you fit in and where you should fit in. You know, I think it’s I think it’s somewhere I really liked the program, the Massachusetts as it’s not necessarily competitive, but it’s they do quite a bit of due diligence. There’s not a million licenses over there, I think, you know, last count on Oklahoma, there’s like 6000, or 7000 licenses, and it’s about the easiest thing in the world to go down there and get a license, you know, the joke is that it’s actually harder to get a fishing license in Oklahoma. And, you know, honestly, it is, you know, you answer 13 questions, upload a lease, and then a piece of property, pass your background check and give them 2500 bucks, and two weeks later, you got to schedule one license in the mail, to go sell cannabis or grow cannabis or extract cannabis. So, you know, states like that, it’s gonna make it very hard for anybody to be successful, because it is so saturated, you’re gonna have to have a lot of money and really just conquer in size, then, you know, it’s being a boutique or, you know, an efficient small group facility. So, it’s hard to say which one, I liked the most pros and cons to each, but it is interesting to see each state, you know, kind of doing things a little bit differently than others. And, you know, where some we feel like maybe they got it wrong, seeing how it plays out in another state. And sometimes, you know, we’re right, sometimes we’re wrong. But, but it is interesting to see, you know, how everybody’s kind of take on it and what’s going on across across the country.
Emily Seelman 18:41
To give a little bit of a different take on it. i This is certainly subjective. I come from a kind of a regulatory view on on these types of questions. And what I’ve been noticing is how the Midwest and East Coast states have really modeled their laws off of the West Coast states. So they’ve closed a lot of loopholes and have noticed the gaps in the laws have, they’ve learned from the from the mistakes of the first states in the industry. And that’s just how life works. That’s how this works. So I really like how Pennsylvania is structured their process. Of course, there’s always issues whenever a state opens up this process, and there’s always the the fear or the concern that there’s, you know, political pieces to this, and it goes beyond what you’ve actually put in your application. But I like when states come at this from a medical perspective first, because they see the importance and the value in helping patients and that changes the hearts of the the that changes the hearts and the minds and of consumers. And I think that’s important in the way the states open up their process because to open in a state just immediately recreationally although I think in most of our hearts, we would love to see that because we hate To see the constraints on cannabis on this plant, but when when a state opens up first in medical, and then at adult use, it allows a time period where people can get acclimated with the industry and consumers can understand and get educated. And it also provides an opportunity for application questions to really be considering what applicants are bringing to the table to educate consumers and to help medical patients. So I really liked the way a lot of the East Coast states have been structured, legally, first medically and then opening up more to adult use, because I think that type of structure is important to the whole consumer process and the free market as it is. I liked the way Pennsylvania was structured for that reason, although I do think there’s loopholes that could have been closed in that state. I’m very interested to see how Illinois is going to do things, they’ve structured their laws in a very unique way as far as helping disproportionately impacted individuals and making sure to include them in this application process and providing extra points for that. So it’s just really unique to see the way these states are coming up with creative ways to help the disadvantaged and to help people who have oftentimes been overlooked in industries that are coming about and growing. So I’m excited about Illinois i It is not my home state but I am interested to see how it’s gonna play out it’s the next one really on the docket. So we’ve you know, we’ve we’re excited to to get clients there and the clients we have been receiving phone calls from and interest from and just hearing their stories and their passion and why they want to get in the industry. That’s my favorite part of this. So Illinois, unique Pennsylvania, Ohio was unique. Everyone comes with their own issues and their own problems, but I love the way the process is growing across the country and and it’ll be fascinating to see what the future brings.
Adam Kulbach 21:56
We’ll return to the higher enlightenment podcast in a moment. Do you need help in applying for cannabis business license? Do you have questions about the process? Are you feeling overwhelmed? Good news. higher yields cannabis consulting can help. Our cannabis licensing experts offer industry leading support for all cannabis related businesses. Our team of experienced application writers has worked on over 100 cannabis license applications. higher yields has worked on regulations and cannabis licensing in over 25 states across the USA and internationally in more than 10 countries. We’ve also helped our clients be awarded licenses. J plus married bass states. If you need assistance with the cannabis licensing process, don’t hesitate to call us. Our initial consultation is free. Please call 844 high yield or visit our website at WWW dot higher yields consulting.com. We now return to the higher enlightenment podcast brought to you by higher yields cannabis consulting Corp. He’s from Illinois, I decided to ask him about how excited he was about a state legalizing
Cory Waggoner 23:12
are really excited. You know, that’s that’s my home state I grew up you know, between there and Birmingham, Alabama, you know, that’s that’s where I spent most of my high school years and younger years. And it’s where my family’s from. So, you know, Illinois, we’re really excited to have it. And, you know, the program there has been pretty restrictive in the first round. But with some new leadership and Pritzker coming in, seems like they’re going to be a lot more progressive moving into recreational here in 2020. So you know, I’m really excited to to be over there and to bring back something to my state and to be working with people in there in the state, you know, definitely adds a little bit of passion for me to be able to to have something there.
Adam Kulbach 23:54
As I mentioned earlier, Corey is from Illinois. He also spent his high school years in Alabama. He went to college in Birmingham. And Emily currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina. Neither one of these areas have a very lucrative if any kind of cannabis program going on right now. So I decided to ask them, What exactly would you tell people who are in states with no real cannabis program? Or no real cannabis program on the horizon? What can people do in that situation?
Emily Seelman 24:31
That’s a great question. You know, I think a lot of people have that question a lot of people ask. Beyond their state, there’s countries who have no cannabis program and and that’s a big question, how can they prepare for legalization? Or how can they help in that in that effort? So I would strongly suggest first doing research do the research on your state or your country get a gauge on the status of the cannabis program that’s that’s there. You may be farther along than you think it may be in a certain stage that you’re in aren’t aware of. So firstly, that the foundational piece, get educated on it, educate yourself on what this process looks like, generally speaking, learn from states in the past what that process looks like, and how you can effectively become or become involved in the state you’re in based on what people have done in other states. And it might be you actually coming up with these programs, like other people had to do grassroots efforts in their states. And if you really have a strong desire to do this and be on the ground floor, you’ll you’ll make that effort, you know, you can always, of course, reach out reach out to higher yields, to determine you know, what beginning steps you can take to lay that foundation, especially, you know, a few of us believe your state or country is turning the corner to opening its program, you might be interested in actually applying in a state or country outside of where you live. And that’s also an opportunity. states do have residency requirements. But it’s not an end all be all, there’s members of teams all over the place that may not necessarily be from that state. And it’s perfectly acceptable for you to apply in states that don’t where that you don’t live in. And there’s, it’s rich with opportunities. So if you are interested in pursuing this industry, get involved in a state outside of yours, maybe get the experience in those states, and then bring it back to your state, higher yields. Like we mentioned before, we help prepare cannabis laws in a number of countries. So if you are in a country that is new to this or doesn’t have those pieces in place, you can certainly reach out to us if you believe your country can use our services to help your government prepare for that. We helped prepare those comprehensive fare laws and put them in place to help people and provide people with the access to cannabis that they need and deserve. So
Cory Waggoner 26:42
you know, you got to start somewhere. And you know, seeing some of these states starting to come on, like Georgia now starting to talk about and regulate cannabis and creating a medical program. And you know, what was really interesting to me is, you know, a few years ago, Georgia and Alabama both legalized CBD. And I personally felt like it was going to take a lot longer for that to make its way down there. So it is it’s interesting to see kind of the the cultural change of cannabis in the last five or 10 years and how far it’s come. And, you know, the types of supporters you know, back in the day, if you had a family and kids it was a drug and we stay away from drugs. And I think like, with like Charlotte’s Web and Phoenix Tears and those sorts of things, and people seeing like the the effect that this plant can have on MediCal patients, whether those medical patients are nine months old, or 90 years old, it doesn’t matter, it helps. And I think that was kind of when we started to see a little bit of a change in the culture, because people started to recognize that it does have some medicinal benefits. You know what they are? I don’t know and which plants have the best and what they you know what they work the best for, you know that that’s yet to be seen. But I think at this point, most people are believers that this plant has some some medicinal benefits and there are people out there who have case studies of of having better lives because of this
Adam Kulbach 28:07
plant. So with that, we’ll wrap up our conversation today with Corey Wagner and Emily Steelman. Both of them the team of higher yields cannabis consulting, they are cannabis licensing experts. I’m sure we’ll be back with more detailed and advanced questions and nuances of the whole cannabis licensing process. My name is Adam. And I’d like to thank everyone for joining us today on the higher enlightenment podcast brought to you by higher yields cannabis consulting. That’s all the time we have for now. Thanks for listening, and please stay tuned for some parting announcements. For information on how to follow the higher enlightenment podcasts, please be sure to check out the description below. You’ll receive all the latest and greatest podcasts news and announcements will also let you know when we release new episodes. If you’d like to be a guest on a higher enlightenment podcasts, or have ideas about upcoming episodes, please be sure to check out the description below. For information about sponsorship or advertising on the higher enlightenment podcast, please call us 844 high yield that’s 844 HHI WWII ELD or visit our website at WWW dot higher yields consulting.com. Be sure to check out our next episode coming in two weeks episode three We have a new enlightening talk with Derek Porter, who’s an expert in the cannabis business secure. Thanks, have a great day and we’ll talk to you soon