Serving Cannabis Businesses and Cannabis Entrepreneurs Nationwide
Cannabis Business Licenses Attorneys
Exciting opportunities have opened up in the cannabis industry in the U.S. in recent years and these have got business owners, entrepreneurs and investors talking.
The bar of entry remains relatively high, however, because the industry is tightly regulated.
Cannabis occupational licenses are not given out freely and securing one can involve a lengthy process and a considerable pile of paperwork.
You can relieve much of the stress involved with getting started with your cannabis business by understanding the licensing laws and what you need to meet requirements from the outset.
We can advise you on how to secure a business license without the delays, knockbacks, and disappointment that many cannabis business owners have experienced.
What is a cannabis occupational license?
The cannabis industry, like several other industries in the country, is tightly regulated by federal and state governments and subject to restrictions that do not affect ordinary business sectors.
This is because cannabis is deemed to have a potentially major impact on the health, safety, finances or wellbeing of the general public. Other professionals like physicians, accountants, lawyers, and certain tradespeople are also often subject to tight occupational license regulations for similar reasons.
If you want to enter the cannabis industry in a business capacity, you will need a relevant cannabis occupational license (depending on the state in which you are based). By securing a license, you will be qualified to operate your business in the specific sector of the cannabis industry to which your license relates (see more below).
In states that have legalized recreational cannabis, there may be many potential applicants for licenses and the process of securing one can be highly competitive.
Can anyone apply for a cannabis business license?
Most states have appointed a dedicated body to oversee cannabis business licensing and many are still developing the rules for the following:
Qualifications for licensure
Procedures for obtaining licensure
Limits to consumer purchases and possession
Advertising and marketing regulations
The guidelines vary greatly from state to state and, to prepare your application, it helps to have the support of a cannabis business attorney who understands the local laws and the qualification criteria at play.
Restrictions apply in most states. Some states are strict, allowing only registered medical cannabis dispensaries to obtain a license. In others, only those who hold a wholesale dealer license for liquor may apply for a license.
It’s fair to say that no cannabis business license is awarded in the U.S. without considerable effort from the applicant and license fees are likely to be high in most cases compared to other occupational licenses.
Can you apply for a license with a criminal conviction?
In many states, anyone with a criminal conviction history may face restrictions with applying for a cannabis business license.
If an applicant or “controlling person” of the applicant has been convicted of any felony crime or an offense related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the applicant’s business, that person can be denied a license outright.
The states vary in how far back they look with a criminal history but most err on the side of caution with past convictions. This can be a huge stumbling block for cannabis business license applicants and one that you must be aware of when planning your business.
What types of cannabis business licenses are available?
The cannabis business licenses available in your state will depend on the local laws. Our cannabis business attorneys can confirm these details once we know more about your location and what you are aspiring to achieve in the industry.
Generally speaking, if you are looking to apply for a license, you will focus on one or more of the following:
Any business looking to sell cannabis in the U.S. must possess a valid retail business license issued by the relevant state authority.
While the name of the authority and the license differ from state to state, the requirement to have a valid license does not.
Retailing cannabis without an appropriate license is likely to expose you to criminal charges, fines, or even jail time.
Cannabis business formation application
To legally operate as a cannabis business in any state, you need a license for each type of cannabis-related work you want to perform.
You have already seen (above) the various types of operations in which the cannabis industry provides opportunities.
Your business may be able to apply for an integrated license if you intend to operate in more than one area of the cannabis industry (e.g., growing and retailing) or you may specialize in a particular area for which you require a specific license.
We can help you ready your business to meet the requirements of the licensing process by executing the correct corporate documents, leases, and real estate agreements, such as:
Articles of incorporation
Certificates of good standing
After this has been completed, we can help you with the documentation necessary to secure an occupational business license in whichever area(s) you intend to be active.
You will usually need a detailed business plan and information on personnel, security, compliance measures, technology, and so on.
Licensing and regulatory compliance
Your responsibility to comply with state regulations does not stop after you have secured your cannabis business license. In fact, it has only just started.
Once you obtain your business license, you will need to work hard to maintain full compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations—or risk severe penalties, including the loss of the license that you worked so hard to obtain.
The cannabis business attorneys at Cannabis Law Solutions can help you maintain regulatory compliance and stay on the right side of the law for the good of your business.
Get help with securing a cannabis business license
Whether you are looking to start a growing, manufacturing, retail or other cannabis business, you need the right advice before you apply for a business license.
Our cannabis business attorneys can help you prepare and apply for your cannabis business license. Call 866-329-0729for a consultation with a knowledgeable cannabis attorney atCannabis Law Solutions.
How will our cannabis and psychedelic business services help you
Cannabis & psychedelics business entity formation
Whether you are looking to form a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation, our experienced business lawyers can discuss the pros and cons of both and help you incorporate your business with the optimal structure to achieve your goals.
Cannabis & psychedelics business licenses
If you want to run a cannabis or psychedelics business, you will need a valid business license issued by your state authority as well as local permits. Eligibility criteria are likely to be stringent and we can help you navigate the often-complex license application process.
Cannabis & psychedelics corporate documentation
Whether you need to prepare for a license application, transfer of business ownership, change of corporate structure, transfer business location or another business process, we can help you identify and draft the documentation you need to operate legally in your state.
Cannabis & psychedelics administrative law
State authorities watch licensed and unlicensed cannabis and psychedelics businesses closely. If you violate regulations, you could face an administrative penalty. Our attorneys can provide representation or help you prepare for an administrative hearing, settlement conference or appeal.
Cannabis & psychedelics disputes and litigation
Whether you have a dispute with another business, a legal issue with one of your partners or a licensing or administrative issue, you may need legal assistance to help resolve it. We are adept at alternative dispute resolution methods as well as civil litigation.
Cannabis & psychedelics regulatory compliance
As the cannabis and psychedelics industries emerge in states around the U.S., they are more heavily regulated than most other industries. We can help your business navigate the red tape and plan to stay on the right side of the regulatory authorities in whichever state you are based.
McKenzie and her firm were definitely awesome. She was conscientious of my money, and made efforts to let me help to decrease the expense of my case. I was not confident about my chances of success before hiring her, but once I did, I slept so much better. Definitely the best choice (and I met with a few!)
These guys rock!!! Met with McKenzie about an issue I needed some help on. She was honest, professional and gave great direction that was easy to follow and solved the problem! Legal Solutions of New Mexico conduct themselves unlike any other lawyers I’ve ever seen – starting with their website, all the way through to the personal attention they provide! They are direct and get the job done while keeping their clients interests at heart. 10/10 would recommend to anyone needing legal help.
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McKenzie St.Denis is THE best! She’s very thorough and listens to you. She gives the best recommendation based on YOUR needs and wants. She genuinely has the clients best interest at heart—no doubt. I definitely recommend her as she has integrity—super sharp! One of the best for sure. Thank you so much, McKenzie!!!
Opening a successful and legal marijuana dispensary begins with hiring a knowledgeable cannabis attorney and learning all that you can about this industry and the applicable laws. The next step is to set up a corporate business structure and create a retail business plan, which an attorney can also help you with. You will also need to research potential locations for your business to find out where licensing is legal.
Next, obtain the necessary licensing to operate your cannabis business and ensure that your operational infrastructure follows all laws and regulations. If you are not growing or producing your products yourself, you will need to contract with cultivators and product manufacturers to supply your business.
Before you begin the process of applying for a cannabis license, you need to establish a business from which to apply. The state will not consider an application from an individual; instead, the applicant must be a business entity in good standing with the state.
Your business will begin when you choose a legal entity and file the appropriate paperwork with the Secretary of State. After that, you will file with the IRS and obtain a taxpayer identification number.
You would start with articles of incorporation and include other key corporate provisions in the bylaws that state how your company will be governed. If your business is a partnership or limited liability company, you will need an operating agreement. Depending on your line of business, you may also need other licenses to operate.
In addition, you will also need other corporate documents that the Department of Health will want to see when they are considering your cannabis application. Of importance here, your application would ask you to provide:
Your articles of incorporation
Certificate of good standing
An attorney can help you both choose the appropriate business entity and draft and file any necessary documentation. When you are seeking to enter the cannabis field, it is important to get your business formation process right to make the best possible impression on the Department of Health. Doing so will allow you to devote as much time as possible to your cannabis-related business arrangements.
As a precursor to even being able to apply for state approval of your cannabis business, you must have a properly formed business entity. As a result, the first documentation you must file is the documentation establishing your business.
Next, you will need to obtain a tax identification number by registering with the IRS. In addition, the licensing application also asks you to provide your current state business license registration.
Beyond your general business licenses, you would also need specific permission to operate a cannabis business. This involves a very strict registration process where the state will closely scrutinize your application. You can expect the state to review each of the licenses that they request since it wants to be sure that your business complies with laws before they are granted the right to operate in the cannabis industry.
Compliance means making sure that you follow the myriad of laws that apply to your state’s cannabis businesses. Further, the regulatory landscape is fast-changing as the state gains more experience overseeing the businesses.
What this means for you is that knowledge is one of the most important things that you can have. Not only do you need an expert in the current laws, but you also need to be able to anticipate future changes in the law. This means that each business needs an expert who understands the laws and can advise them as to the best means of following them.
Also, compliance also means that you have sound policies and procedures in place that govern your business. The Department of Health is already looking at your policies when they evaluate your initial application. However, they reserve the right to audit and inspect your business to verify that you are complying with the law. You should always be ready for an inspection by documenting how you are following the regulations.
The best way to show compliance is by keeping your paperwork organized and conducting your own internal audits. The Department is interested primarily in your safety procedures, so you should be ready to show how you are following your own procedures. Further, you should always reevaluate your own policies to see if there are any weaknesses or changes that can be made to strengthen them.
The major thing that the Department of Health is interested in is the safety of both the product and the operation. As a baseline, the state wants to know who all of the owners are and the people who will be working in the operation.
While there are common documents among all the application classes that the Department is seeking, there are also special requirements for each of the categories.
For example, when the Department is evaluating a manufacturing application, it will pay close attention to measures that your business takes to ensure proper hygiene and testing methods. The Department also will pay attention to the manufacturer’s procurement practice and the security of its inventory.
With regard to laboratory submissions, the focus is partially on the testing processes and equipment that the business will use. The Department wants technical, scientific details of the exact tests and the quality control that the laboratory will use for testing. The emphasis is on ensuring product safety.
For courier businesses, the Department will scrutinize the safety and security of the delivery process, including the vehicles and the delivery routes that are used. The emphasis is on the safety of qualified patients, primary caregivers, and courier staff in light of the product being delivered. In addition, since there is interaction with patients, the Department wants to see how the applicant plans on protecting patient privacy.
Cannabis legalization often works in a series of steps. Broadly speaking, cannabis policy reform occurs in the following stages:
Prohibition: Criminal penalties apply for the possession or use of cannabis.
Decriminalization: Low-level criminal penalties are removed for cannabis usage (e.g., personal possession) and criminal penalties may be replaced with civil fines.
Medical legalization: Full medical legalization with commercial licensing and testing may come straight away or in a series of stages.
Legalization: State laws are changed to make any cannabis activity a crime no longer. Cannabis must be removed from the Controlled Substances Act and new rules added for the legal commercial cultivation, distribution, testing, and sales of cannabis.
Oregon and Colorado states have decriminalized the use, sale, and possession of psilocybin, which is the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms” and has been shown to have great value in treating certain medical conditions, like depression, anxiety and life-threatening cancers.
Besides these states, the cities of Oakland and Santa Cruz in California as well as Washington, D.C., Somerville, Cambridge and Northampton (Massachusetts) have all decriminalized psilocybin.
It should be noted that all psychedelics are illegal in the United States under federal law and drugs like MDMA, DMT, ketamine, LSD and psilocybin are Schedule 1 controlled substances. This means they are viewed as having no medical purpose and no legitimate commercial application