How to Open a Dispensary in Massachusetts

Posted on May 29th, 2022 to Education by

Are you looking to open a dispensary in Massachusetts? Mass. was actually the first New England state to get on board with the legal cannabis movement. Well-built infrastructure throughout the state that’s been easily made cannabis-ready is just one of many reasons MA is posed to have a booming cannabis industry. In 2021, there were over $1 billion in cannabis purchases in the Bay State. Nevertheless, barriers to entry when you are on the outside trying to get in can be pretty high. The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) has a well-formed but arduous set of guidelines for newcomers to retail cannabis. Take a closer look at how to open a dispensary in MA.

How to Open a Dispensary in MA – Necessary Steps

1. Get to Know MA Cannabis Business Laws

Getting familiar with the laws regarding retail cannabis in MA is the first step. These laws will determine:

  • How your sales will need to be tracked
  • How much cannabis you can sell to customers
  • Where your dispensary can legally be opened
  • How you can advertise your cannabusiness
  • What cultivators and product manufacturers you can work with for inventory
  • How you can transport cannabis products to and from your establishment

FindLaw offers a good collection of specifics with MA cannabis laws with links to useful applications. However, be sure to go over the marijuana regulations published by the CCC as well.

2. Establish an Extensive Business Plan

A solid business plan is your roadmap when starting a cannabis business, but also required when you submit your application in the state of MA. Create a detailed business plan that covers things like:

  • The aim of your business – Medical or recreational? Certain types of products are all cannabis products? Who is your target customer?
  • How your business benefits the local residents – Will you create jobs, support diversity, or create opportunities for an area that has suffered from prior cannabis regulation?
  • Where your dispensary will operate – Have you arranged a community outreach meeting?
  • Projected financials and profit potential – What is your operational budget? What will be the costs from month to month compared to profit?
  • How you will stock your business – What cannabis transport company will you work with? Do you have cultivator connections?

3. Raise Capital

The estimated cost for an MA startup getting into the cannabis business is anywhere between $325,000 and over $1 million. And, it is a good idea to have the funding in place before submitting your application to get a cannabis business license from the Cannabis Control Commission because the application specifically requests a financial overview to show you have access to enough funding. Due to the fact that you may not qualify for traditional funding, you may have to look at other means of securing capital for your business, such as:

  • Finding a private investor
  • Securing a personal loan using existing assets as collateral
  • Working with capital brokers
  • Raising personal funds

4. Find Your Location

Securing a location for a planned cannabis dispensary in MA can take some thorough evaluation. Each city has its own ordinances about where and if they allow cannabis dispensaries, and the state sets forth regulations as well. For example, a dispensary may have to be in a standalone building, not part of a retail complex, and may have to be located a specified distance from schools.

5. Host a Community Outreach Meeting

In MA, interested cannabis retailers must work with the local municipality to host a Community Outreach Meeting. During this meeting, the prospective retailer delivers information about the establishment in progress and how the establishment could potentially impact the community. The applicant must publish a notice of the meeting in the local newspaper two weeks prior to the meeting, and then proof of the event and community agreement must be submitted during the application process.

6. Apply for Permits and Licenses

With all of your plans in place, you will be ready to apply for the proper permits and licensing. The types of permits and licenses you will need will vary depending on the type of dispensary you intend to open. The application fee for a registered marijuana dispensary (RMD) is $1500, while the application fee for a retail dispensary (adult-use) is $300. If your application is approved, you will then be required to pay fees for your actual license: $30,000 for an RMD and $5,000 for retail.

When you initially apply for a dispensary license in MA, you will have to provide several bits of information, such as:

  • Your personal identifying information
  • Agreement to submit to a background check
  • Your signed Host Community Agreement
  • A list of entities and individuals that will be affiliated with the applicant and proposed business
  • Financial status to prove the initial capital requirements (must have at least $500,000 available)

7. Build Your Business Network

The supply chain in cannabis is similar to that of other industries. To effectively operate a new retail cannabis establishment, you will need a full network, including:

It can be helpful to work with industry professionals that already network with existing entities in the cannabis industry as you put together your own network. For example, companies Like Plymouth Armor Group that transport cash and cannabis products for other establishments are excellent sources of information. Learn more about networking in the cannabis industry.

Need Help with Logistics or Transport?

As you work to establish your new retail cannabis dispensary, having a logistics/transport team on your side is a must. Plymouth Armor Group can help you with everything from cannabis warehousing and storage to wholesale cannabis and cash transport. As a middleman in the cannabis industry, we also offer valuable insight into building connections with cultivators and manufacturers in your area. Reach out to get the discussion started.

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