Three key real estate tips for cannabis entrepreneurs
Real estate is one of the most important considerations if you are going to be operating a cannabis business. It is one of the first factors entrepreneurs should consider before applying for a business license.
Currently, the market is very competitive. Cannabis is a multi-billion-dollar industry that will continue to grow at an exponential rate. When I opened my first dispensary in 2009, all I had to do was fill out a one-page sales and use tax certificate and I was in business. Today, applications can be thousands of pages, and often there are 10 times as many applicants as there are available licenses, so finding the right property is essential to your success.
Here are three steps to turn your property investment into a prosperous endeavor.
Assemble Your Team
A knowledgeable real estate agent and a local general contractor will have the expertise and the connections to help you find the right property. Their comprehensive understanding of local building and zoning department processes will prove invaluable in getting things done quickly. This might not save you any money, but it will save you the legwork and put you one step closer to building a successful cannabis business.
Research State Rules and Regulations
Even before real estate regulations have been released, there are some good rules of thumb to follow to ensure your location meets requirements.
- Most states have adopted a 1,000-foot rule, meaning that a cannabis operation (dispensary, processor, cultivation facility or laboratory) cannot be within 1,000 feet of a zoned residential area, school, day care, place of worship or public park.
- In some states, local municipalities will have their own regulations and requirements, such as special use permits, traffic impact studies and town hall meetings.
- If you’re constructing a dispensary, keep in mind seven key factors during the build-out: adequate handicap access, safe entry, patient area (lobby), limited access area (where cannabis is dispensed), restricted access area (where cannabis is stored), secure safe room and a safe receiving area.
- Consider greenhouse versus warehouse options for your cultivation facility. Greenhouses generally cost less and take less time to build. They are also more energy efficient, while still providing the necessary level of security.
Invest in the Community, Win as a Business
Real estate is much more than a property; it is your community connection as a business. You can have the perfect location with all your desired features, but you still need community support to succeed. Here are some innovative ways to make a positive impact in your neighborhood.
- Attend any community-based meetings so your neighbors know your intentions. Make sure you are professionally prepared with an agenda that explains your business plan and provides educational data on cannabis.
- Research opportunities and partnerships where you can participate, such as getting involved with a local community garden.
- Sponsor educational classes to increase knowledge about the medical benefits of cannabis for patients, doctors and community members. Or work with the local emergency responders to create a class on drug safety in the home.
- Work with a job placement agency to put people in your area to work; reach out to local universities and post ads for local residents to find employees. Make sure diversity is part of your focus.
- Find out your community’s needs and v If opioid addiction is a concern, consider supporting a local addiction and recovery center.
The cannabis industry is not just a new industry, but a new kind of industry. It originated in grassroots advocacy and is deeply connected to a diverse community of patients, activists, consumers and entrepreneurs. If you are serious about joining this industry as a business owner, start out on the right foot with the right plan.
Diane Czarkowski is a founding partner of Canna Advisors, a cannabis consulting firm with a track record of serving businesses in competitive, emerging markets. An industry leader and insider, she owned one of the first dispensary and cultivation operations in Colorado and has more than a decade of experience in real estate development. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.