Tips for Opening a Licensed Cannabis Facility

Written by Jenny Germano

Opening a licensed cannabis operation is no small feat, and in fact it can take up to two years to become operational from business conception, to applying for the license and up to the operation launch. Once awarded a license the business will then take everything submitted on the application and convert it into reality. Using our tips for opening a licensed cannabis facility will help.

At ICS Consulting we’ve often said that the application process is the easy part, and implementing those plans is where challenges can begin. We know the application can be challenging, but when you’re taking what is written on paper and applying it to the reality of life, things can happen. For example there can be delays with the build out of the operations for all types of reasons, or there could be issues with existing buildings, permits, contractors or materials. There can be many curve balls during each phase. 

A Structured Plan is Key

Having a well thought out and structured plan in place, will allow a little wiggle room in case changes need to be made. Being prepared to get operational is the key, and knowing that in this industry, things change all the time and it’s important to have the skills to adapt quickly to change. 

Here are a few good reminders to consider when mapping out implementation of the plans to get operational. 

Standard Operating Procedures

Before you open, ensure the SOPs from the license application have been updated to reflect actual operating procedures. The SOPs submitted for an application are completely different from operational SOPs. 

  • SOPs for application are expected to reflect the rules and laws only and may not be practical to use for operations.
  • Operational SOPs may take into account the actual room names and numbers. 
  • Application SOPs are abbreviated for space, actual SOPs should spell everything out.

Supply Chain Agreements

Regardless of the license type, supply chain agreements will be critical for continuous and smooth operations. This is especially helpful in new emerging markets when products are limited in the first year. 

  • Sourcing products that will be successful in your market is important. 
  • Products may need to be purchased months in advance to ensure availability.
  • Securing raw material for manufactured products may result in paying a premium over “market” price. 

Employee Engagement

Employees responsible for engaging with consumers should be educated on the products being sold. Examples: Responsible Vendor Training and/or working with vendors on product education. 

  • Knowing the difference between Rosin, Resin, Shatter and Wax will foster loyal customers that will respect the knowledge of the employees.
  • Understanding the rules and regulations will keep you from “Looping” and other practices that could lose your license. 
  • Being knowledgeable will help when building vendor relationships. 

Software Integration

Validate the integrity of all software integration prior to opening day. Examples are POS integration to the Seed-toSale Software. 

  • Software integrations are instrumental to efficient operations. 
  • Consider the connections between seed-to-sale, POS, and inventory.
  • Seed-to-sale violations are the number one reason for fines. 

Lastly, do research and educate yourself as much as possible about the operational side of the cannabis industry. Connect with others who have industry experience and longevity to gain more context. 

Here are some additional ICS Blogs that could be helpful when opening up a Cannabis facility, especially for the first time. Check out Avoiding Operational Pitfalls in the Cannabis Industry, How Employees Can Make Or Break Your Company: Finding And Keeping The Right Team For Your Cannabis Business, and Occupational Health and Safety in your Cannabis Operation

ICS Consulting specializes in Compliance based services, such as Third-Party State Regulatory Audits, State and Local License Application Support, Technical Writing, Standard Operating Procedures Development, Compliance Operations Training, Employee Retention Solutions, and Employee Onboarding. For more information on how ICS Consulting Service can help your Cannabis Business, book a free 30-minute consult and we'll help you map out your next steps to be successful in the Regulated Cannabis Industry.