A Step-by-Step Guide to Launching a Legal Cannabis Startup

a small bonsai tree on a table

As marijuana legalization gains momentum across the country, now is the perfect time to get into the legal cannabis market. As of now, there are 11 states in the US—Colorado was the first—that have legalized recreational marijuana. Because of the popularity of weed and the fact that’s increasingly becoming accepted—even in conservative circles—experts forecast significant growth in the marijuana industry.

While marijuana has become legal for recreational use in some states and medical use in most states, it’s still illegal on a federal level. Furthermore, different regulations are governing the use of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). As you can see, you’re going to have to split a lot of hairs to stay on the right side of things. Continue reading to learn how you can make your cannabis startup a success.

Seek legal advice

When you decide to go into the legal cannabis business, your first step should be to get some sound legal advice. You’re going to need an attorney with experience in recreational cannabis and medical marijuana law experience. Even if you live in a state where marijuana is completely legal, it’s still against federal law.

To navigate the marijuana industry, you’re going to need someone on your side who has years of legal experience. First, you have to register your business with the state, and then you need to form an LLC for tax purposes. You also have to find a location—which isn’t as easy for a marijuana dispensary as it is for a convenience store.

Furthermore, you have to find a bank that’s willing to hold your money. National banks don’t service the cannabis industry because marijuana is illegal at the federal level, and national banks are federally regulated. The last thing they want is federal prosecutors trying to bring them down as financiers of illicit trade.

For all of the reasons above, you need a marijuana attorney in Colorado who can handle your legal issues and help you to adhere to federal and state laws. The only thing you need to focus on is how to grow your business—let someone else deal with the legal issues.

Choose a business model

Once you have your legal affairs in order, it’s time to make the choices that will make up the framework of your business. If you don’t have extensive experience running your own business, then you may want to get the help of consultants. For the record, your friend who’s been a pot connoisseur for as long as you’ve known him is not an actual consultant.

You also have to develop relationships with growers and develop a supply line of CBD and THC products. You should also do some market research to see what products consumers are buying. For instance, a lot of people are turning to hemp cigarettes and cigars to replace their nicotine intake with CBD.

Wild hemp cigarettes make an excellent substitute for people who are trying to quit smoking nicotine products. They have an odor similar to regular marijuana, but they don’t have any THC in them.

Before you stock your shelves with products, you need to make an informed decision about what kind of cannabis store you want to open. For instance, if you sell recreational cannabis with THC in it, then you can’t sell any CBD products that don’t have THC in them. In other words, are you going to target consumers for medical or recreational use, and what retail products will you offer?

Market your business

Even though people are becoming more tolerant of hemp and marijuana products, it’s critical to your success that you’re tasteful about how you market your business. Be mindful of any marketing campaigns you put together, and be careful about who your ads target.

If you’ve paid attention to what’s happened to the vaping industry recently, it’s a textbook on what you shouldn’t do. You don’t want to put out colorful ads or campaigns that attract kids and teens.

As legal marijuana continues to trend upward, now is the perfect time to get into the marijuana industry. Recreational weed is legal in 11 states and illegal at the federal level. Now is the ideal time to get into a growing industry that’s still in the fledgling stages. By the time legalization has spread nationwide, your dispensary could become a national brand.