Careers in the Cannabis Industry: How to Open a Medical Cannabis Dispensary?

Soft Secrets
19 Sep 2020

A lot can be going on inside a medical cannabis dispensary in a day.

With the unprecedented boom of the cannabis industry within the last decade, those interested in pursuing a career can do so in cannabis cultivation, production, and dispensaries. If you find purpose in helping people medicate with cannabis, perhaps a medical cannabis dispensary career is the right fit for you. Below, we sketch out how to open a medical cannabis dispensary and what to anticipate from being part of this business.  Perhaps you've already had some experience working in a medical cannabis dispensary, or you're totally new to this perspective, but now - avidly exploring the options. Before we proceed with a quick overview of things you need to open a medical cannabis dispensary, let's find out how this type of business functions and for whom it might be the right fit.

What is a medical cannabis dispensary?

As you may already be familiar, cannabis dispensaries have a bridging role between cannabis growers and producers on the one side and recreational and/or medical users of cannabis on the other. The provenance and quality of the different cannabis strains and products available in a dispensary are accounted for, as a dispensary needs to have a license to purchase cannabis products legally from vendors to sell it to patients who medicate with cannabis or recreational users. A medical cannabis dispensary has a qualified physician on the board of directors to guarantee that patients' treatment complies with standard accepted practices. The staff of each dispensary is also trained and educated to respond to individual questions of patients who may want to inquire about the use of certain medicinal products the dispensary has in store. A medical cannabis dispensary serves patients who seek alternative ways to treat their medical condition, especially in cases where other drugs are failing or causing undesirable side effects. how to open a medical cannabis dispensary

How does a typical day at a medical dispensary look like?

A lot can be going on inside a medical cannabis dispensary in a day. A new law just came in, and you need to see its updates. A new cannabis product arrived, you need to store it and get familiar with its optimal use. A patient came in and did not have a medical cannabis card, which may be essential for them to medicate with cannabis. You should be able to explain the inquirer that they must refer to a physician, get an evaluation to obtain a doctor's recommendation and a card. You should be able to interpret the new law changes. A day at the dispensary can be a constant learning process.

Is pursuing a career in dispensaries the right thing for you?

Running a medical cannabis dispensary is the right job for people interested in alternative medicine and who want to help other people. Each day we find out something new about cannabis and its effects on the human body, so those working in dispensaries ought to be inquisitive and always stay up-to-date on medical research and news. That equally concerns the development of law, as right now, different states have different rules regarding the use and/or limitation of cannabis use. Careers in dispensaries have thus far attracted a lot of people who have obtained medical education; however, it doesn't necessarily mean that you need to be formally educated to be part of the business. If you have other talents, such as management, leadership, or cultivating cannabis, you can always partner with people whose background is more orientated on the science part or studied medicine school. Needless to say, running a medical cannabis dispensary or just being part of the management comes with the same share of responsibilities as would for any other position that requires leadership and organizational efforts and skills. how to open a medical cannabis dispensary

What are the needed skills and experiences?

Below is a checklist for skills and/or experiences that are recommended you have, especially if you explore the prospects on how to open a medical cannabis dispensary:
  • Have expert knowledge on medical cannabis and be able to efficiently tell its effects on different conditions both for your understanding and for your customers
  • Management skills so you can train and supervise employees
  • Negotiation skills to set good deals with growers
  • Communication skills as this is a job where you reach out to different profiles, including patients to whom you need to offer help 
Of course, you may have gained some of these skills if you've previously worked as a staff member of a cannabis dispensary. Dispensaries are the ideal places to learn various information on cannabis, including what's at stake with each business-related decision. 

How to open a medical cannabis dispensary?

First things first, you have to know the costs of opening a medical cannabis business. You can apply for a license to run a medical cannabis dispensary only in states where it's legal to do so, and the costs for obtaining the permit will differ from state to state. You also have to come up with compelling branding that will attract customers and set a tone where you'll build trust with users. Those users are coming to you for a cure.  With opening a medical cannabis business, you are inevitably forming a legal entity, which will require the payment of taxes, for which you must also obtain an EIN (Employer Identification Number). You also have to choose what legal entity you are going to form. For instance, a limited liability company (LLC) is a type of business structure, where, as an owner, you won't be personally liable if your medical cannabis dispensary faces any legal issue.  how to open a medical cannabis dispensary Second, you have to invest in capital, as you would for any other business. Your capital can expand depending on your business operations. For example, if you intend to extend your operations to cultivating cannabis to offer your product in the dispensary, it will normally require a more significant investment. However, this is also an opportunity for higher earnings, plus you don't have to deal with other growers. Third, it's not only the initial investments. You have to plan for all ongoing costs that there might be, such as paying salaries to the staff working at the dispensary, spend on advertising campaigns to promote your products, or settle the monthly rent if you are renting a facility to do business.  None of these costs should be underestimated. For instance, advertising and promotion would be essential to reach out to your target market, consisting of users who have been prescribed cannabis as the preferred treatment for their condition by a physician. Since we live in the digital age, going online is a must. And anyway, a lot of dispensaries opt to sell their products online. So, building your web presence should also be one of your significant investment.

Revenue making 

Once your company is established, you can open a business bank account and introduce accounting to track each expense and finally also the income you generate.  There are different products that you can sell as a medical cannabis dispensary, but to build trust with users, you want to offer an array of products that can match their needs, which will prove as the right strain or product for their condition. When you supply high-grade organic medical marijuana, the prices can range in hundreds per ounce.  Edibles such as foods and tinctures are also sold at dispensaries, and depending on the strength of the item, it can range from as little as few dollars if selling a cookie and up to $20 if selling a tincture.  Another stream of revenue could be selling cannabis accessories such as e-pens and vaporizers, which can range from as little as $20 to hundreds of dollars.  From a legal perspective, a medical dispensary can generate sales within the state where it's based. Given that cannabis gains a legal status at the federal level, selling between states may also become a reality in the future.  Of course, this is only a quick overview, simply sketching the steps on how opening and running a medical cannabis dispensary looks like. As every business, a cannabis dispensary requires effort - and clearly - a solid business plan, compelling name and branding, vision, and goals that you want to achieve. Therefore, opening a medical cannabis business should be seen as no different from any other business or startup type.
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