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The cannabis sector is a fast-growing industry, and many people are jumping on this investment opportunity. One of the ways of getting on the bandwagon is opening a dispensary. It provides a vast opportunity to benefit from the emerging industry, but it can also prove to be a nightmare for first-time dispensary owners. 

This is because of the numerous challenges that come with compliance regulations. Despite being a legal business opportunity, the cannabis industry is still under a lot of scrutiny, and for small business owners, setting up shop can be quite the task. Here is a compliance checklist to keep in mind when setting up your first cannabis dispensary.


Have the Proper Licenses and Permits

Before setting up a cannabis dispensary, you must make sure that you have everything you need, including the business licenses and permits needed to operate a dispensary. Because the procedures for being licensed vary by state and local government, the first step is to figure out what you need to accomplish to get a permit. 

Keep in mind that the sequence for completing the procedures will also vary from state to state. For example, you will need to get a municipal license before acquiring a state license in California. Do proper research and prepare everything, including the appropriate license application fee, to avoid setbacks during the process.

Update Your Licenses and Permits

The next step is to ensure that the licenses and permits are updated and well maintained. Most permits and licenses have a validity period of 12 months, so you need to carry out renewals every year. 

File Your Licenses Properly

Filing doesn’t mean keeping them in a cabinet somewhere that’s out of reach. It means storing them in an easily accessible place. In case of a compliance audit, your state authority might ask for your business permit. So, make sure it is easily retrievable once filed.

Cannabis Products Products 

Ensure Your Products Are Well Tested

If you intend to cultivate your own cannabis and make your own products, you must ensure your products are tested in a licensed lab. Tests are usually carried out to look for harmful substances like mildew or heavy metals. They will also assess the potency and homogeneity of your goods.

If you’re outsourcing your flower and manufactured goods, make sure you have all past testing reports for branding purposes. You must also confirm that all lab results have been recorded as per your state-mandated track-and-trace program.

Product Labelling and Packaging

Labels are essential for your cannabis products because they carry crucial information. Check with your state’s regulations to see their requirements when it comes to labelling information. Remember, all labels must indicate the quantity of THC in the product. 

For products such as edibles, topicals, oils, and cartridges, make sure to display the dosage and serving size information on the package before transporting them to a retail facility.

Other important information that you might need to include on your labels are: 

  •     Package ID 
  •     Net weight 
  •     Date of sale 
  •     Warning statement 
  •     Strain name and ID 
  •     Cannabinoid range 
  •     Tested status 
  •     Nutritional information 

Your product packaging needs to be child-proof, either through the use of proper exit bags or in the initial packaging. You also want to go for packaging that retains the freshness of the flower or product.

Conduct Regular Inventory Audits

Tracking your product throughout the supply chain is vital for any dispensary owner. Using smart inventory can streamline the process, making it easy to identify which goods are in the store and which ones are on the shelf.


Have a Practice Guide to Standard Operating Procedures

In the cannabis industry, having an operating procedure is crucial. What is the first thing you do when you arrive in the shop in the morning? How do you handle waste disposal? Who does what and at what time? 

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) are an excellent way to record your processes. They will help you ensure that the different processes—for example, waste disposal and management—meet the compliance requirements.

Pay Your Taxes 

Taxes on cannabis are more complicated than for other businesses. Consult your accounting and financial specialists to verify you’re collecting the correct amount of taxes, paying them on time, and maintaining accurate records.

Pay Your Taxes  Employee Vetting

Due to the nature of the cannabis industry, you will need to have only the best of the best employees. They need to be dependable and trustworthy enough to maintain your business. An excellent way to separate the chaff from the wheat is by thoroughly vetting new hires. 

The vetting process should include but is not limited to running thorough background checks, confirming their job history, and cross-checking with references listed on their application.

In some states, it is a requirement that all employees that directly handle cannabis products be certified and badged. Make sure you have thorough standard operating procedures in place that define how you hire, train, review, reward, and terminate staff.

Ensure Your Seed-to-sale Procedures Are Compliant

While the rules may vary from state to state, every region requires accountability from cannabis dispensaries on all cannabis products. From sales to inventory and disposal, you must keep thorough records that are to be reported to your respective state authority.

A proper dispensary compliance system makes it easier to automate your product tracking process and submit reports to your state’s compliance authority. Do some research to see what works best for your store before settling on a solution.

Prepare for Audits

Dispensaries, like any other business, are subject to regular financial audits. To be on the safe side of the law, schedule frequent internal audits. This will save you from paying hefty fines and incurring needless penalties for noncompliance.

Create a specialized checklist for your state’s audit requirements and maintain thorough records of your dealings. You should also ensure every aspect of your company complies with your state’s guidelines and that you can prove it with the necessary documentation. That way, you will be prepared for any regulatory audit thrown your way.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, you need to take proper care when dispensing cannabis. The cannabis sector is a sensitive one, and just one step out of line could put you out of business. To make sure you don’t cross that line when it comes to compliance, check with your state authority to find out the dos and don’ts in regard to running a dispensary.