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Cannabis Retailer Application Process and Insights

This 3-part series takes you through the entire process of starting and running a dispensary. This is Part 1 and it covers the process of prepping for and submitting your cannabis retail license application. Part 2 covers the list of things you need to do before you open. Part 3 covers how to refresh your marketing strategy as the market matures and expands in your state. 

The by-product of the legalization that’s sweeping the nation is a massive number of cannabis retail license applications. That's hardly a surprise, considering that Arcview Market Research reported that legal marijuana sales topped $9.7 billion in 2017.

There is a lot that occurs between the intent to apply and actually submitting the application. This article will give you insights into what the application process is like and what is required from the applicant. We’ll share some inside tips into the key sections of the application, some of the unique state-specific requirements, and how Baker can help you stand out from other applicants.


Application Timeline and Process

Though the timeline is completely controlled by the state, we typically see the same trends in timing and order of events. First, the state will release the application to the public. In the meantime, you can use this guide to help you prep for the application prior to it being released – as this article will show you what trends can be found on the majority of applications. The state will allot a certain period of time between when the application is released to the public and when everyone needs to submit it. You can usually expect this time period to be between 3 and 9 weeks.


Application Preparation - Standard Requirements

Of all the sections on the license application, there are several that are key. These sections are often found in most states' applications. They include security, community involvement, financial plans and sourcing, diversity, facility lease and layout and company organization. Three of these key standard sections are security, standard operating procedures (SOP), and your facility.

As a business with higher theft rates than most, you need to have a security plan in place. And you will need to submit this with your application. This plan documents that your business has procedures in place for you to protect your employees, and quickly recover inventory and equipment. It includes safety measures and protections for a responsive, and well-trained staff.

Speaking of procedures, many applications require some form of operations plan as part of the process, as well. Be prepared to address any questions as part of the licensure process from detailed plans to the kitchen sink.

You should also be prepared to document your location, lease or ownership and the layout of the facility. Not all states require this as part of the application, but enough do that it's worth mentioning.


Application Preparation - Unusual Requirements

It is also important to note that not all states have the same application sections, nor do they score them evenly. For example, diversity is a much bigger priority for Pennsylvania than some other states.

In West Hollywood, where traffic and congestion is a concern, applicants are required to show that they have an e-commerce system such as Baker in place. This not only reduces lines, but it provides a positive customer experience and provides customers with product education, right from their homes.


Standing Out From the Crowd - How Baker Helps

While it is critical to answer the entire application completely and accurately, some areas are worth extra consideration, as they are typically weighed more heavily. There are also some additional things that can separate your application from the others.

Having technology infrastructure in place is one of these. Some pieces of technology are required (such as a Point of Sale system), or e-commerce in the case of West Hollywood. For dispensaries applying in West Hollywood, Baker has helped with more than just e-commerce verification. Baker has provided retail applicants insights and assistance with the application itself. This includes screenshots of the e-commerce solution, and even copy that is optimized for the application.

Even for those that don’t require an e-commerce or dispensary CRM, this is a great way to stand out on your application. Software, like the Baker CRM also present legitimacy and show that you’re well prepped. It also addresses another major state concern – Education. Baker provides retail applicants visuals, examples and even copy explaining how the CRM platform provides education to the consumers in a user-friendly way.

Having an expert assist in writing the application can make a world of difference. Baker’s industry expertise is beneficial in the application process will garner the right kind of attention to your application, with well-crafted copy that drawn on their industry expertise.

Applying for a cannabis retailer's license might seem daunting, but don't let it stand between you and your dream of opening your own business. There is plenty of help available from experts who are invested in your success, who can assist you in mastering the application process. Learn more about how the Baker platform can help you – Request a demo.

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» Ready for Part 2? Go to the Steps to Open a Dispensary

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