Medical marijuana businesses are full of risks, but the rewards can be great. A leading investors group claims Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana market will start at $125 million, and then grow at an annual rate of 180% during the first few years.
Fiscal reports from Pennsylvania legislators estimated over $300 million in revenue if 0.77% of Pennsylvania’s population qualified for medical cannabis. Many investors and entrepreneurs want to race into the emerging medical marijuana market, but Pennsylvania has not made it easy.
Entrepreneurial endeavors involving medical marijuana require a great deal of research and money. Only a select few can operate as a grower, processor or dispensary, but opportunities are limitless for supportive businesses.
Start Deciding What Type of Medical Marijuana Business You Want
Medical marijuana businesses in Pennsylvania could be classified into two divisions: businesses defined under the Medical Marijuana Act and businesses not defined under the Medical Marijuana Act. Every medical marijuana business is at risk of commercial litigation and criminal federal penalties. A software inventory system used by a medical marijuana business could be subject to investigation and forfeiture if the marijuana provider was negligent and marijuana was stolen or unaccounted for, or if a glitch in the system caused an illegal marijuana diversion. All businesses should consult an attorney to learn about potential risks in starting a medical marijuana business.
Marijuana Businesses in the Medical Marijuana Act
The Medical Marijuana Act defines three types of business organizations that are allowed to deal directly with marijuana: growers, processors and dispensaries. Healthcare facilities are allowed to use medical marijuana if they participate in the new Medical Marijuana Research Program established under the Act. Certain clinics that are accredited with an academic institution can also operate as a grower, processor or dispensary. Profit and non-profit medical marijuana businesses will exist.
Businesses Helping Growers, Processors and Dispensaries
Medical marijuana growers, processors and dispensaries will require employees, contractors and supporting businesses. Inc. magazine has pointed out the new jobs available as a Weed Critic, Security Operator and Analytical Chemist. Investors in the medical marijuana market have a plethora of supportive business opportunities available in healthcare, technology, security, science, agriculture and administration. All of these possibilities have risks, and an attorney should be consulted.
Who Cannot Start a Medical Marijuana Business?
Not everyone is allowed to start a medical marijuana business.
The Medical Marijuana Act makes it illegal for the following people to own, be a direct investor in, or be an employee of a medical marijuana grower, processor or dispensary:
- Persons with a previous drug charge or addiction
- Certain Public Executives
- Anyone who has violated Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act
The permit and application process also requires the applicant to be of “good moral character.”
Start Saving Money
Starting a business, any business, costs money. Starting a medical marijuana business as a grower, processor or dispensary is a costly business. Non-refundable application fees start at $5,000, and require an additional $20,000 or more for a permit. Medical marijuana businesses also have to prove they have the money and capital on hand to succeed. You won’t be able to scrape up startup fees then hope for the best. You’ll have to have cash in the bank and equipment on hand.
Start Reaching out to Regulatory Agencies
A medical marijuana business is subject to comprehensive regulatory compliance from state and federal agencies. The Pennsylvania Department of Health is responsible for health regulations and regulations set forth in the Medical Marijuana Act. The department is also creating new regulations and a Bureau of Medical Marijuana. Laws will constantly change. Medical marijuana businesses will also face regulations from the Department of Agriculture, Department of Labor and the Environmental Protection Agency, to name a few. You should be aware of the many regulations in place before you start your medical marijuana business plan.
Start Talking to an Attorney
Medical marijuana business owners, investors and employees face the possibility of criminal and civil penalties, including life-changing jail time and heavy fines. Talk to a lawyer about your risks and regulatory compliance. The Slocum Firm has attorneys on staff to advise you. You can call 570-209-7376 to arrange an appointment for a legal consultation.
Write a Medical Marijuana Business Plan
Once you have decided what type of medical marijuana business you want to start, determined that the idea is financially feasible, talked to an attorney and feel comfortable you can withstand the regulatory scrutiny and risk, you can start writing your business plan. Your medical marijuana business plan should include contingency plans for changes in marijuana laws and regulations.
Start Getting Permission to Operate
Medical marijuana growers, processors and dispensaries will have to submit an application for a permit before beginning operations. Other permits, licenses and inspections will be required depending on the type of business you are operating. An attorney at The Slocum Firm (570-209-7376) can help you sort out the necessary requirements to get your medical marijuana business started.
Start Having Patience
It could take up to two (or more) years to get your medical marijuana business started. Have savings on hand. Have patience. It’s a long road, but if you’re in it for the long run, you’ll find some profitable rewards at the end.
Image provided by Pixabay under Public Domain CC0.