Looking into opening a recreational dispensary in Seattle?
There are incredible benefits to owning your own business! For example, there’s a lot more independence and flexibility that comes with working for yourself. Other people find personal fulfillment from running their own store rather than working for someone else.
Owning any business has challenges, but opening a cannabis shop is especially unique, and it can be difficult.
Even though medical and recreational marijuana is legal in Washington state, you still have to apply for a license with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB).
Furthermore, working with any drug means that you must properly vet and train your employees.
Here’s what you need to consider to successfully open and run your dispensary!
Create a Business Plan for Your Recreational Dispensary In Seattle
Just because you’re selling cannabis, it doesn’t mean that your business is different from any other business!
Every successful business results from the strategies found in a strong business plan.
You’ll want to consider things such as who your target market is, and where will you be getting your product from. Now is the time to start planning out the details of your operation, including who will be running your marketing so that you get business immediately. Also, since it’s already possible to buy Seattle marijuana, what will set you apart from the competition?
Feel free to study competitors to see what appears to be working for them!
To acquire and maintain your marijuana retail license in the state of Washington, you must have a protocol for each of the following items:
● Employee qualifications and training
● Disposal of waste products
● Traceability and security
● Product inventory and display
Find the Perfect Location for Your Store
“Build it and they will come,” right?
Well… that old saying is only partially true.
You still have to do some strategic planning that considers the location of your recreational dispensary in Seattle.
First, you’ll need to meet the state’s requirements. A cannabis shop cannot be within 1,000 feet from an elementary or secondary school. It also cannot be that close to playgrounds, public parks, libraries, public transit, public parks, and any arcade that allows minors to enter.
In Seattle, it can be difficult to find a spot that meets all of these qualifications. It’s true for most urban centers, but it is possible!
If you cannot find a location that meets all these requirements, your county has the legal authority to reduce the 1,000 foot requirement down to 100. However, the reduced buffer still does not apply to elementary schools, secondary schools, or playgrounds.
Obtaining Funding for Your Business
Now that you have a business plan and have found the perfect location, it’s time to fund your business!
For some entrepreneurs, they’ve been able to save up enough dough from a traditional career to open a dispensary without any outside funding!
If you need financing, please note that it may be more difficult compared to other businesses to obtain funding through a bank. Due to federal banking regulations, it’s not uncommon for banks to consider dispensaries a “risky business”. This is mainly due to the fact that marijuana is still considered federally illegal in the United States (at the time of writing).
If banks are unwilling to loan you money, then you may have to seek out investors. It is permitted for out-of-state financers to invest in your business as long as they are U.S. residents. Make sure that you submit an Application for Additional Funding to the WSLCB if you are using financing from out of state.
Determine a Structure for Your Business
As of this writing, the WSLCB is not issuing new licenses.
Once they reopen applications in the future, you should definitely apply for a new marijuana retail license if owning a Seattle marijuana store is something you want to do!
But if you want to enter the industry sooner, then there are two options available: (1) invest in an existing dispensary or purchase an existing licensed business.
Whether you’re purchasing or investing in an existing dispensary, it’s critical to understand the structure of the business. For example, is it an LLC or corporation? Some dispensaries are even considered “sole proprietors,” but be aware that this business structure has very little legal protection compared to an LLC or corporation.
Of course, feel free to meet with a business lawyer to fully understand the difference between these structures.
In general, an LLC is a good structure, as it stands for “limited liability.” This means that your personal assets are typically protected. If for whatever reason the business is sued, only the LLC would be at risk, not you financially.
Again, meeting with a business mentor or lawyer could help you understand these nuances so that you can make the best decision for your particular situation.
Fulfill All the Regularly Requirements
The first requirement is making sure you have a marijuana retailer license. To emphasize, since the WSLCB is not currently issuing new licenses, you’ll have to wait til they reopen applications, invest in an existing dispensary, or purchase an existing dispensary.
Other factors you should consider:
● Be prepared to provide government issued ID for financiers, owners, and spouses
● A criminal background check may be required for financiers, owners, and spouses
● You’ll need to provide a financial statement accounting for all money invested in the dispensary
● You will also need to submit copies of your recent tax returns and bank statements
It’s greatly helpful to research all legal and licensure requirements in-depth yourself, and be ready for shifts in this highly competitive, highly-regulated industry.
As long as you’re 21 years old and have been a resident of Washington for at least 6 months, you’ll be able to hold a Washington marijuana retailer license! If you have any questions along your journey, be sure to meet with a business mentor or seek guidance from a legal expert.
Best of luck!
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