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Retail Tips for Dispensaries

Any entrepreneur looking to get onto something big should look at the opportunities that the cannabis industry offers.  Concrete extraction technicians, researchers, marijuana cultivators, marketers, marijuana processors and developers will all have a place in the industry.

There are professionals from a range of backgrounds that are seizing the opportunity offered by the industry, Wall Street Daily has stated that there are over 300 publically listed businesses within the cannabis industry and this increased from 13 just 2 years ago.  One of the best things is that almost all of these businesses have generated profits with relatively small capital amounts.  If you are considering entering this industry then you should consider some tips to help you get started.

For states that are not yet recreationally legal, please see section below on “Starting a Collective“.

Research Your Competitors

If you want to have an advantage then you need to keep close tabs on your competitors.  This will help you target your audience and find new customers.  You should also look at the services, products and prices that your competitors have to determine what your business model should be.  A cannabis consultation company can help give you a head start with focus on various areas of marijuana.

There are a few ways that you can track your competitors including:

  • Online searches
  • Engagement on social media
  • Conferences
  • Inquiries from customers
  • Online surveys

Be Active In The Community

One of the best parts of the cannabis market is the community that drives it and you need to use this to your advantage.  Join MeetUp groups, participate in rallies and volunteer in the community to get your name known.  This will help your business visibility and will help you develop the connections to the community that you need to be successful.

The community also offers start-up businesses the opportunity to become a part of a larger collective.  There are groups like Canopy Boulder and Women Grow which have specific missions which help cannabis businesses start.  Women Grow is a network for female entrepreneurs and mentors, while Canopy Boulder has investors that are looking to sponsor the next big company, as long as they do not work directly with cannabis.  The methods will also help ensure that your company prospers.

Create And Maintain A Website

Regardless of the type of business, you are looking at you need to have a website.  This will offer business credibility and allows you to reach a larger audience.  You can educate your customers, provider customer service and save money with advertising.  There are some things to remember to get the most out of your website.

You should educate your readers by answer questions potential customers have before they actively ask them through the use of searchable keywords.  Of course, you should not stuff your website full of keywords or phrases because the search engines will penalize you.

You should showcase your service and products.  Many people like to compare products and services before they buy so you need to have an online portfolio and some testimonials.  This could transform a visitor into a paying customer, but only if the information is up to date and attractive.

All of your information needs to be accurate and fresh.  Fresh content helps you get leads, but it will also help your ranking on the search engines.  You need to update your website regularly or create a blog for the site if you cannot update the website itself.

Connect to social media by integrating your accounts into your website and offering share buttons and ensure you get some Facebook and Instagram followers.  Engaging with your customers on social media is free, takes little effort and will help your customers share your business with others.

Determine What Business You Want

While this article is about marketing your dispensary, you do not have to specifically open your own cannabis dispensary to get into the market.  There are a number of ways that your skills can be used to develop a business.  You could also look into business management, cultivation, design, marketing, financial services, activism, security, computer programming and content creation.  If you are skilled at these, you can make a business out of it in this market.

Otherside Farms marijuana dispensary

Otherside Farms marijuana dispensary

Starting a Collective

The Model of a Collective

Unlike a for-profit corporation, the purpose of a consumer collective  cooperative corporation is to serve it’s members interests, rather than make a profit.  In a collective, each patient is allowed a certain number of plants.  As a group, the collective is able to grow that number of plants and share the medicine amongst it’s members.  Members return to the collective and offer a donation in exchange for the effort in the collective manufacturing and providing medication.

Such a corporation is democratically controlled and the members can limit each member of the corporation to one vote regardless of how many shares of the corporation a member owns.

Forming a Consumer Collective Cooperative Corporation

As with all corporations in California, to create a consumer collective cooperative corporation, you must file articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State’s office.  This can be as easy as doing it yourself, or going through a service like legalzoom, which offers review services and other useful services as well.

A medical marijuana collective in CA can really be any type of entity, but the only entity recognized for this purpose in CA is a non-profit C-Corporation, which provides all of the benefits and protection necessary to the owners of the collective.

A C-corporation is typically filed with the CA Secretary of State as is non-profit status with the state and you can have non-profit status in CA. There is no need to apply for federal 501c3 status, because of the federal law issues with marijuana, only state non-profit.   You would still have to file and pay regular corporate federal taxes.

The statutory requirements for the articles are set forth in California Corporations Code section 12310, which states that the articles must include the corporation’s name and address, as well as a special statement that the corporation is formed under the Consumer Corporation Law and whether member voting will be equal or based on ownership interest. The corporation’s name must include the word “cooperative” and an indication of its corporate status by use of a designation such as “Inc.” or “Corp.”

Collective Membership

In a collective, each patient is allowed a certain number of plants.  As a group, the collective is able to grow that number of plants and share the medicine amongst it’s members.  Members return to the collective and offer a donation in exchange for the effort in the collective manufacturing and providing medication.

Consumer collective cooperative corporations can have an unlimited number of members or no members at all. If neither the corporation’s articles or bylaws state whether it will have members, the corporation shall have no members. A consumer cooperative cooperation without members vests all voting rights in its board of directors.

The directors are authorized to issue memberships for no payment or to set the amount of payment required per membership, unless otherwise prohibited by the corporations articles or bylaws. If the director’s set the membership payment at $300 or less, the memberships are exempt from registration with the Department of Corporations.

Uses

A consumer cooperative corporation is the preferred form of corporation to ensure compliance with other laws. For example, in 2008 the California Attorney General recommended the use of such a corporation by qualified persons to comply with the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 regarding medical marijuana. Because the act prohibits diversion of marijuana for non-medical purposes, qualified persons can work cooperatively regarding the handling of the marijuana for the members’ benefit and safeguard it from improper diversion.

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