Opening a dispensary in Massachusetts can be a complex process. From obtaining the necessary licenses to advertising and managing product inventory, there is a lot to consider. This guide will provide all the information you need to get started on your journey of opening a cannabis dispensary in Massachusetts.
Research Local Regulations on Dispensaries:
Understanding the regulations in your area is the first step when opening a dispensary. Massachusetts requires applicants for cannabis licenses to enter into a Host Community Agreement with the local municipality where your business will be located. Host Community Agreements outline operational conditions such as taxes, employment criteria and community outreach that have been negotiated and agreed to by the cannabis business and local municipality. Local municipalities are allowed to set their own provisions for Host Community Agreements so long as they are in compliance with state law. Make sure to check local ordinances for your operational responsibilities including zoning laws for where your business can be located. The Cannabis Control Commission provides guidance on their website for negotiating and entering into Host Community Agreements.
Obtain a License from the Cannabis Control Commission:
Once you have secured a business location and entered into a Host Community Agreement with the local municipality you can apply for a cannabis license online through MassCIP. Additional application requirements include, but are not limited to, a regulatory compliance plan, positive impact plan, background checks, business plan, management profile(s), and standard operating procedures are also required. The requirements are extensive so applicants are encouraged to be thorough and have well thought out plans and procedures in place to be successful through the licensure process. Consult with industry professionals and build a qualified and experienced team to help navigate you through the process.
Finding a Suitable Dispensary Location in Massachusetts:
Securing a business location is one of the most challenging steps applicants face when starting a cannabis business. Your business location will need to be compliant with local zoning laws including distances to sensitive use sites such as schools or day care centers. Make sure you are familiar with local laws and consult with industry professionals to assist with lease negotiations and navigating through Massachusetts’ Host Community Agreement requirement. Additionally, dispensaries will want to consider other factors when searching for a business location including, but not limited to, foot traffic in the area, proximity to other businesses and types of businesses to attract customers, and ensuring the layout can satisfy security requirements and has ample space for customers and employees.
Develop an Advertising Plan for Your Dispensary:
A crucial part of getting your dispensary off the ground is to create an advertising plan. An effective marketing strategy will help you reach new customers and build loyalty amongst existing ones. Consider using various channels, such as social media, print media, radio, events, and referrals to advertise your products and services. Cannabis businesses must comply with restrictions and limitations when it comes to your advertising medium. Make sure to check local and state advertising laws. Additionally, think about ways to differentiate your brand from competitors by developing unique promotional campaigns or offering loyalty programs or discounts.
Create Secure Accounting Systems for Your Business:
Accurate financial tracking and reporting is essential when running any business, but especially one that sells a controlled substance. Make sure that you have secure accounting systems in place to record all transactions and handle taxes. You will also need to create administrative policies and procedures around how money is exchanged at your dispensary, including security protocols for both debit or credit card payments as well as cash transactions.
How we can help?
At Cannabis License Experts, we provide you with the cannabis industry guidance to plan your cannabis business, acquire funding, navigate the legal requirements, and acquire the appropriate cannabis license for your operations. As the United States and Canada cannabis industry develops, more and more licensed producers will be needed to meet the demands of consumers.
Cannabis License Experts offers support from day one of starting your cannabis business, including strategic planning, floor plan preparation, site audits, SOPs, Preventive Control Plans (PCPs), and more.
Our Edibles Compliance division can provide you with a solid plan for your edibles business to help get your products on store shelves.
Contact us today to discover how we can license and legalize your cannabis business to meet federal or provincial regulations.