With the legalization of cannabis in Canada and certain jurisdictions in the United States, there are real opportunities for entrepreneurs to jump in and capitalize on a business opportunity. Although governments will control supply and pricing, the sale of products will in some jurisdictions be left to private enterprise.  This is different from what we all thought was going to happen – especially in Canada – where the initial proposal was for government to act as retailers in much the same way as they do with government-run liquor and beer stores.

The private sector is now in a position to capitalize on the business of selling recreational cannabis and cannabis related products – oils and edibles as an example. Medicinal cannabis will still be controlled by the government.

Here are the steps you must follow:

Licensing

In Ontario, Canada as an example:

  1. You must apply for an Operator’s license.
  2. You must apply for a Sales’ license for a specific location
  3. You must have your store management licensed – in other words all your management staff must be licensed.
  4. Your staff must undergo training and be certified in the same way that liquor servers must have their “smart serve”

To receive these licenses, you must meet a stringent set of standards and each individual must be “squeaky” clean. There is a fee related to each application. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, AGCO, regulates the licensing process so go to their Website for these applications and keep yourself informed about the ongoing changes.

Location

Once you have secured the various licenses, you then can move on to securing a location. Most landlords are going to want to see your business plan. There is a lot of misinformation about the issue of legalization of marijuana and landlords are nervous about renting space for cannabis retail outlets. The government has set out regulations for distances from schools, the need for a separate outside entrance etc. and therefore the licensee must select a location that will meet or exceed regulations.

Note: You can make an “offer to lease” with a condition that you secure the requisite licensing.

Financing

If you have secured the licensing and signed a lease, you may also need to apply for a loan. Again, you will need a Business Plan. This plan will outline the process you will undertake to go from where you are now to where you want to be. The plan must be heavily weighted toward the financial piece as this will demonstrate to the lender that you understand the economics of the business.

Your plan needs the following:

  • Overview
  • Financial Forecast
  • Start-Up Expenses
  • Security
  • Management

Note:    Your Business Plan serves two purposes:

  1. It demonstrates to the lender/landlord that you have a “handle” on your business.
  2. It shows you that your business is viable and sustainable.

Systems and Controls

After securing a licence, a space and financing it may be time to open for business. Being a business licensed by the government, you can expect to be monitored regularly and consistently. While there are hundreds of thousands of liquor licenses issued, there are a virtual handful of cannabis retail licenses expected to be issued. And since there will be a small number of licensees approved, those cannabis retail owner/operators can expect to be visited regularly.

You will need to keep an impeccable set of books. Having policies and procedures in place is also very important. Hiring help in these areas is imperative and will save you any hassles going forward.

Securing a retail license for the sale of recreational marijuana is a potential windfall for the operator.  Do it right! If you do it right, you will not only win today; but also win tomorrow.  You might get more outlets.

Paul Morgan, Plan2Profit, 1-844-752-6776