The idea of owning and operating a dispensary is often romanticized. In fact, it’s perceived as a relatively simple, sure-fire way to make money. But legalization’s proven the opposite to be true. Opening a dispensary is a grueling, expensive, multi-step process that’s easy to botch. The legal hurdles of running a cannabis business are so intricate and expensive, it’s almost impossible to navigate the waters of compliance without some sort of professional guidance.

The team at Cannabis Advising Partners (CAP), a Long Beach-based consulting firm, specialize in helping people navigate the legal industry without getting chewed up and spit out by the merciless canna-laws in California. They gave us some stellar tips on the do’s and don’t’s of opening a dispensary. Keep in mind that, although these tips are exceptional, they won’t suffice for professional or legal advice. They will, however, provide you with a base-understanding of what you need to do to get your dispensary going.

Outline the Future

The process of getting licensed by the state is almost as daunting as becoming a dual citizen. It takes time, money, diligence, and a lot of research. But there are things you can do that can make the process a bit less complicated. Creating an outline that functions like a to-do list (or a plan of attack) is a good place to start. It should sketch out the brush strokes of the whole process from identifying your budget to opening the dispensary, and everything in between. Doing this not only helps you keep track of what needs to be done, but it will also assist with developing a business plan. A stellar business plan is the only way officials on the municipal level (and state regulators) are going to issue a canna-business a city permit, which is the first step to obtaining a license from the state.

“Creating an outline is Step Zero,” says Devon Martinez, a CAP compliance specialist. “You want to outline the steps you need to do prior to getting started, which will help you realize your budget requirements. From there, you’ll have a better understanding of what kind of building you’ll need, what cities you should look to operate in, and what the business plan will look like.”

Manifest Your Vision

Similar to creating an outline, Nathan Wofford, also a compliance specialist at CAP, believes having a vision for your business is a vital preliminary step to opening a dispensary. This vision, he explains, should be about who you are and what, specifically, you’re trying to accomplish with your business—for the community and beyond.

“If everything from your outline to vision to business plan basically says ‘we’re going to make money and you can take our taxes,’ it’s not going to look very good to the community or city officials,” Wofford says. “If you want to start benefits plans or help the industry actually become something that cohesively works not just from seed to sale, but from the top to the bottom of business structures, make sure that’s understood.”

Rent or Own in the Zone

After identifying the budget, creating a plan, and having a vision, the next step is finding the real estate—arguably the most important part of the whole process. But before putting money down on a place that may seem ideal, it’s imperative to find property in a “green” zone.

“Finding the right real estate can be very difficult and requires understanding the local cannabis laws and their zoning rules,” says Martinez. “Every city’s laws are different. So in one city where it’s required to be 1000 feet away from schools, it might only be a 500 foot requirement in another city. Other cities might have distance requirements from rehabilitation centers and beaches while others don’t. It’s nebulous—a complicated subject in its own right.”

Often, this is where people tend to lean on consulting firms or lawyers to help them—and for a good reason. Locating real estate in the proper zones is a time consuming and complicated process. But it should be noted that anyone can find this information. Most cities that permit cannabis activities have online portals on their website that outline where the zones are.

“Do your own research and don’t depend on someone just because they say something is zoned,” Wofford says. “Don’t put money down on a property just because your real estate person says it’s zoned only to find out that it’s not. Maybe they don’t know cannabis well, but if you would’ve done some extra reading, you could’ve figured it out.”

Seek Opportunity, Not Location

Wofford also emphasizes the fact that even cities within the same county are likely to have different laws. So, it’s imperative to do your research. At the very least, it will help you understand the type of risk you’re taking by opening a canna-biz.

“Pasadena is going to be different than the areas in LA that allow cannabis businesses to exist,” Wofford says. “But just because these cities are open doesn’t mean that other cities have given cannabis the green-light. Doing your due diligence will tell you if there’s a limit to cannabis businesses, if there’s a lottery system, if there are phases, and how much it’s going to cost you.”

The age-old adage of “location, location, location” doesn’t apply to the cannabis industry—yet. Considering most of California still prohibits cannabis, Martinez and Wofford say the mentality needs to be “where’s the opportunity” instead of being glued to a certain location.

Know Your Council Members

The licensing process in California is tiered. Before you can get a state license, you must first obtain a permit from your local government. So, it’s crucial to know who’s who in the city. Martinez explains that you want to know who on the council is for and against cannabis, and if there’s anyone outside of the council members–like the city clerk, for instance, who has involvement in the licensing process.

“When it comes to interfacing with government officials and bureaucracy in general, it’s imperative to interact with them as much as possible,” Martinez says. “Constantly put a face in front of them. Go to every city council meetings and speak during the public comments.”

Martinez recommends talking to the council about how much benefit your company is going to bring to the community and the city as a whole. The goal, he explains, is to cultivate the reputation that you’re always around and an ingrained member of the community. The best way to achieve this is through your presence.

Don’t Bribe Them

We’ve all heard of corrupt city council members who’ve taken money-offers from people wanting to open cannabis businesses. And we don’t recommend anyone do this. Because, even if it worked, it’s important to note that illicit-market behavior is not the smartest way to do business these days—especially if your city officials are scavenging for reasons to maintain prohibition. Although the cannabis world is still the Wild West in many ways, there are rules now and, thus, major consequences. Not only will your integrity be reduced to smushed bug on a windshield, but there’s a chance you’ll also get exiled from the cannabis industry by state regulators. Is a bribe really worth the risk? No.

“Don’t ever talk about financial compensation,” says Martinez. “Communicate from a place that’s going to benefit the community. Do not come from a place thats going to jeopardize your integrity.”

The post Six Things to Know Before Opening a Dispensary appeared first on High Times.

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1. What is CBD? What is CBD Oil?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring constituent of industrial hemp/cannabis. Its formula is C21H30O2 and it has a molecular mass of 314.4636. It is the most abundant non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, and is being scientifically investigated for various reasons.

CBD oil is a cannabis oil (whether derived from marijuana or industrial hemp, as the word cannabis is the latin genus name for both) that has significant amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) contained within it. Our CBD products and extracts are derived from industrial hemp, so they could be considered CBD-rich hemp oil, hemp derived CBD oil, CBD-rich cannabis oil, or plainly “hemp extracts” since they typically contain much more than just CBD. Again, cannabis doesn’t mean marijuana, but is the genus name, and general umbrella term which all forms of marijuana and hemp fall under. The form of cannabis we use for our CBD and hemp extracts is industrial hemp; we do not sell marijuana.

2. If a hemp extract is 40% cannabinoids, what’s the other 60%? What’s in your hemp extracts besides the naturally occurring cannabinoids?

Our Kentucky hemp extracts contain over 80 different phyto-cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD), CBC, CBG, CBN, etc.. In addition to the cannabinoids naturally present in our agricultural hemp extracts, there are also many other types of natural molecules and phyto-chemical compounds such as amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins (including B1, B2, B6, D), fatty acids (including omega 3 & 6), trace minerals (including iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium), beta-carotene, chlorophyll, flavanoids, ketones, nitrogenous compounds, alkanes, glycosides, pigments, water, and terpenes. The most common terpenes in our hemp extracts are Myrcene, Beta-caryophyllene, Terpinolene, Linalool, alpha-Pinene, beta-Pinene, Nerolidol og Phytol, trans-alpha-Bergamotene, Limonene/ beta-Phellandrene (Co-elution), and alpha-Humulene.

3. What’s the difference between Hemp and Marijuana?

Scientifically, industrial Hemp and Marijuana are the same plant, with a genus and species name of Cannabis Sativa. They have a drastically different genetic profile though. Industrial Hemp is always a strain of Cannabis sativa, while marijuana can be Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, or Cannabis ruderalis. The major difference is how industrial hemp has been bred compared to a marijuana form of Cannabis sativa. organic hemp seedsTypically speaking, industrial hemp is very fibrous, with long strong stalks, and barely has any flowering buds, while a marijuana strain of Cannabis sativa will be smaller, bushier, and full of flowering buds. However, newer industrial hemp varieties in the USA are being bred to have more flowers and higher yields of cannabinoids and terpenes, such as our Kentucky hemp we’re now using!

99% of the time marijuana has a high amount of THC and only a very low amount of CBD. Hemp, on the other hand, naturally has a very high amount of CBD in most instances, and only a trace amount of THC. Fortunately, the cannabinoid profile of hemp is ideal for people looking for benefits from cannabis without the ‘high.’ Hemp is used for making herbal supplements, food, fiber, rope, paper, bricks, oil, natural plastic, and so much more, whereas marijuana is usually used just recreationally, spiritually, and medicinally. The term cannabis oil can refer to either a marijuana or hemp derived oil, since marijuana and hemp are two different forms of cannabis.

In the USA the legal definition of “industrial hemp,” per Section 7606 of the Agricultural Appropriations Act of 2014, is “INDUSTRIAL HEMP — The term ‘‘industrial hemp’’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

4. Are hemp derived cannabinoids such as CBD as good as CBD from marijuana?

The short answer is yes. CBD is CBD, whether from marijuana or hemp. Most marijuana has a very low non-psychoactive cannabinoid profile (like CBD, CBC, CBG), so most of the time hemp would be much more preferable for anything besides THC. Marijuana is usually very high in THC (gives people the high) but usually very low in other non-psychoactive cannabinoids.

Nowadays in the USA, many farmers are growing industrial hemp flowers that are just as beautiful, odor-producing, and terpene rich as the best marijuana strains, such as our partnered farmers in Kentucky.

5. Why don’t you source your Hemp and CBD from within Colorado?

colorado growing operationWe feel that the hemp program in Kentucky is more well suited for our company in regards to growing hemp, and that because it’s 100% compliant with Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill (and the 2016 Agricultural Appropriations Act), procuring it from there is perfectly legal at the federal level. Kentucky’s ecology is perfect for hemp just as it is for tobacco. The growing season is longer than in Colorado, and the soil is richer, so the quality of the hemp and the yields are better.

6. What’s the percentage of cannabinoids and CBD in your product?

Our raw extracts have varying percentages of cannabinoid and cannabidiol (CBD) content, the range being 10%-99%. Each product has a unique formulation and uses varying ratios of our extract types. Our CBD Isolate is over 99% pure CBD.

7. What is the best method of use?

For our dietary supplements we can only recommend them for internal consumption. Our CBD isolate is for research purposes only. If you don’t like the flavor of the oil supplements, you can mix with something sweet like apple sauce or honey to cut through the flavor.

8. What’s the ideal serving size for me, and how often should I take it?

There is no easy answer to this. Our starting recommended serving size is 15 drops but we generally recommend experimenting to see what feels best to you. Some prefer 5 drops, some prefer over 50 drops per day.

9. What is the safety of your hemp extracts? Are there negative side effects?

Hemp is considered by many to be generally safe. We’ve never seen or heard of any significant or negative CBD Oil Extractside effects in our years in the industry. That said, we can’t rule them out. Please consult with your physician before using any dietary supplement including Hemp extract supplements.

10. Which of your CBD and hemp products should I get?

As a company who sells various dietary and food supplements, we can’t suggest any of our products for the prevention, treatment or cure of any disease or ailment.

When considering our different dietary hemp products, know that they all come in two strengths. Our Original Hemp blends (Classic Hemp Blend, Hemp Complete, Brainpower oil, & Signature Blend) all have 250+mg of cannabinoids per fluid ounce, and our concentrated blends have 1,500+mg per fluid ounce, six times the potency of our traditional oils. We’ve found that sometimes less is more, but nevertheless, some people like to take very large serving sizes of our hemp extracts.

The main difference between the four Original Blends is the additional herbal ingredients besides hemp. We suggest you research the separate components of each blend to determine which product may be most appealing to add to your dietary regimen. If you know it’s solely the hemp extract that you are looking for, with no additional ingredients, then Classic Hemp Blend or Classic Hemp 6x is what you’re looking for.

For dabbing and vaporizing or for research you can try our CBD Isolate.


11. Why do people use Hemp Extracts and CBD? What are the benefits and uses of CBD?

In accordance with federal regulations we cannot make health claims regarding our dietary supplement products. We can only recommend our products for general wellness.

12. Is a standard hemp seed oil the same as a high-CBD hemp extract?

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Absolutely not. Standard hemp oil, which can be found very cheaply at a grocery store, is a much different product than our CO2 hemp extracts (not from seed). Standard hemp oil is produced by cold pressing the seeds, whereas our hemp extract is a supercritical CO2 extraction of the hemp plant itself, not the seeds. Hemp seed oil is considered to be a great nutritive food, but it doesn’t have the naturally occurring terpenes, cannabinoids and other components that our extracts do have.

13. Do I need to move to Colorado to get your Hemp Extracts and CBD? Where do you ship?

No. We actually source our hemp from Kentucky, as it’s legal to ship across state lines. Many people are under the impression that the only way to acquire hemp extracts and CBD for themselves or a loved one is to move to Colorado or another cannabis-friendly state. Many major news outlets are misinformed and are unfortunately spreading the idea that you can only get CBD oil in the states where medical marijuana has been legalized. This is simply not the case though. Because our extracts comes from hemp instead of marijuana, we can and do ship to all fifty states, and no medical marijuana card is needed. There are some exceptions, like with Indiana, Missouri and South Dakota we can’t sell our concentrated products due to state legislation.

We also ship to Japan, Australia, the EU, Switzerland, and Brazil. For all EU orders contact our exclusive distributor thereCannawell.

14. Is your Hemp Extract Oil similar to Rick Simpson Hemp Oil?

Not quite. Ours are from hemp and RSHO is usually using marijuana, a different form of cannabis than industrial hemp. Our industrial hemp extracts are more standardized and will usually have a much higher content of non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD than one produced through the Rick Simpson method. And oils produced through his method will usually have a much higher THC content, as it’s typically marijuana that is used for RSHO.†

Generally speaking, most marijuana producers and sellers (especially on the black market) don’t test for contaminants (metals, pesticides, bacteria, etc.). Rick Simpson Hemp Oil is actually more a method of extraction than it is a specific product. People use the Rick Simpson method with hundreds of different strains of marijuana, so the THC, CBD and other cannabinoid content of the final oil is always varying greatly, depending on the cannabis the consumers are acquiring. Usually what’s used for Rick Simpson oil is a strain with an inferior CBD content (and high THC), because that’s what the vast amount of marijuana is nowadays.

15. Where do you source your hemp and CBD from?

We have partners in Kentucky who grew a dedicated plot for us this year (2016) which is being used in our products now. mjna message boardWe also currently source from Europe but we’ll be changing that soon.

16. What kind of testing/analysis is performed on your products?

We have an industry leading quality control system, and we have third party laboratories analyze all of our hemp extracts and our final products for cannabinoid potency, heavy metals, bacterial and microbial life, mycotoxins (fungus), and pesticides.

17. What is CO2 extraction? What’s the difference between subcritical and supercritical CO2 extractions?

CO2 extraction is an extraction process that uses pressurized carbon dioxide to extract phyto-chemicals (such as CBD, CBG, or terpenes, flavonoids, etc.) from a plant. CO2 at certain temperatures and pressures acts like a solvent, without the dangers of actually being one. It is the most expensive extraction method, and is widely considered the most effective and safest plant extraction method in the world.

Many hemp and CBD companies boast about their supercritical CO2 extractions, but that’s actually only one (and perhaps an inferior) method of using a CO2 extraction machine. There are also subcritical CO2 extractions, and ‘mid-critical’, a general range between subcritical and supercritical. Subcritical (low temp, low pressure) CO2 extractions take more time and produce smaller yields than super-critical, but they retain the essential oils, terpenes, and other sensitive chemicals within the plant. Supercritical, on the other hand, is a high pressure and high temperature process that damages most terpenes and heat sensitive chemicals, but can extract much larger molecules such as lipids (omega 3 and 6), chlorophyll, and waxes. A truly full-spectrum CO2 extract includes first performing a subcritical extraction, separating the extracted oil, and then extracting the same plant material using supercritical pressure, and then homogenizing both oil extracts into one. In the essential oil industry, an extract made using this specific process is referred to as a CO2 Total.

18. What is the endocannabinoid system (ECS)?

“The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a group of endogenous cannabinoid receptors located in the mammalian brain and throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems, consisting of neuromodulatory lipids and their receptors.” Wikipedia

There are two main types of receptors in the ECS, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are primarily located in the central nervous system and brains of mammals, and CB2 are generally found in the peripheral nervous system. There are two main cannabinoids mammals produce- 2AG and Anandamide (named after the Sanskrit term “ananda” which translates to “peace”).

For hundreds of millions of years every vertebrate on Earth has been equipped with this ECS, a crucial system in the body, and it has been known about in the scientific and medical communities since the 1980’s. However, it’s still not taught about in most medical schools.