You’ve Got Your Maryland Dispensary License. Now What?

Congratulations License Holders!

Now that you have your Maryland Cannabis Dispensary License, are you wondering what next? Here is your ultimate guide to opening a dispensary in Maryland, including key details like financing, real estate, staffing, store design, tech stack, and more.

Obtaining your dispensary license is the initial milestone in entering the thriving cannabis industry. However, opening a cannabis dispensary in Maryland comes with a multitude of regulations and guidelines.

Explore our step-by-step guide to opening a dispensary in Maryland. Before diving in, familiarize yourself with Maryland’s cannabis laws to stay updated on the evolving regulations amidst the transition from medical marijuana to adult use.

Location Requirements for a Dispensary

While Maryland dispensary license applications don’t mandate a location upfront, having one ready streamlines the process. Here’s a guide to ensure your chosen location aligns with local regulations and zoning restrictions. If you’re yet to finalize a location, this information is essential for your planning.

Here are some general guidelines to consider:

  • The dispensary location must be at least 1,000 feet away from schools, and places of worship.
  • Dispensaries may be restricted to particular zones or regions designated for commercial or industrial use and are subject to local zoning restrictions.
  • Having proper security systems, such as alarms, cameras for monitoring, and safe places to store goods, is required for dispensaries.
  • The dispensary must be easily accessible for patients and customers, considering factors such as parking availability and public transportation access.

Secure Funding 

Banks refrain from providing loans to cannabis businesses. As a result, several private investors have stepped in to fill this gap. These investors support marijuana ventures in the absence of traditional bank lending. They include venture capital firms, angel investors, and consulting firms specializing in marijuana businesses. Just like a bank, a private investor requires a cannabis business to undergo a loan application process. Typically, a private investor demands that a marijuana business seeking a loan:

  • Be legally incorporated 
  • Hold a business bank account in its name 
  • Present a detailed business plan 
  • Comply with state laws 
  • Provide monthly and yearly gross sales figures 
  • Maintain a credit score of at least 500 

As a cannabis dispensary licensee, if you do not want to borrow from a private lender, you can apply for a Cannabis Business Assistance Loan/Grant Fund (CBAF). 

What Loan/Grant Can You Apply? 

Social equity candidates have the opportunity to seek the License Application Assistance Reimbursement Grant. This grant, part of the CBAF initiative, is open to eligible social equity candidates aiming to receive support for the expenses involved in completing a cannabis business license application. Interested applicants can submit a no-cost application for a grant that covers 50% of qualifying costs, up to a maximum of $5,000. It should be noted that these grants are subject to taxation. 

Upon approval of their application, recipients will receive the allocated funds. To ensure proper utilization of the funds, recipients may undergo random audits. Any recipients found to violate the grant’s intended use may be required to fully repay the grant amount.

Store Design

With Maryland issuing 174 cannabis licenses in March 2024, the competition for local dispensaries increases. Your monthly revenue and daily operations will be impacted by the choices you make about the design of your dispensary.

Store Design Considerations:

  • Maryland dispensaries need secure layouts and clear signage for compliance.
  • To attract customers, create a welcoming atmosphere with informative product displays and offer privacy for consultations.
  • Tailor your design to your target audience, whether medical patients or recreational users.
  • Add elements that reflect Maryland culture or your brand identity to create a memorable experience.
  • Think sleek fixtures, natural light, and high-quality materials.

The Maryland Cannabis Board has published this report on the rules and regulations that may provide more guidance.

Cannabis Store

* Image by Unsplash

Here is a list of store designers you can hire:

Choosing The Right Dispensary Technology

You may be surprised to know that an average cannabis store is a lot more complex than any other retail setting. Along with the performance pressures that other businesses face, you also have to manage significant legal and compliance obligations. With the right dispensary tech stack, you will be able to navigate through all the legal and compliance requirements and stay ahead of the competition.

Cashier collecting the cash

*Image from Freepik

Here is what you can do:

  • Include interactive displays which provide details, recommendations for usage, and information about the products. Tablets work perfectly for this and are more discreet than large screens. 
  • Make use of smartphone applications that enhance the in-store experience. Customers may consider the advantage of exclusive offers, loyalty plans, and content to strengthen their bond with the brand. 
  • Ensure that every touchpoint is seamlessly incorporated into the overall retail experience. Customers want a seamless transition from their online experience to the physical world. Experiences in stores and online are the same; they are only different parts of the same journey. 

You can partner with Cure8 for all your tech requirements. We can customize services according to your business needs, procure high-grade hardware, set up and manage your network, cameras etc. and provide round-the-clock support.

Insurance Requirements for a Dispensary

Maryland Cannabis Board does not have any insurance regulations in place. However, insurance coverage is crucial for protecting a dispensary from various risks.

Types of Policies You Can Choose From

  • General Liability Insurance
  • Product Liability Insurance
  • Property Insurance
  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance
  • Cyber Liability Insurance
  • Business Interruption Insurance

Hiring The Right People 

Building a successful cannabis dispensary in Maryland hinges on assembling a knowledgeable and dedicated team. 

But before hiring, familiarize yourself with Maryland’s regulations regarding cannabis industry employees. This includes background checks, training certifications, and any specific qualifications required for certain roles. 

Given the specialized nature of the industry, prioritize candidates with a solid understanding of cannabis products, strains, and their effects. This knowledge ensures they can provide accurate information and guidance to customers. 

Maryland’s cannabis industry demands strict adherence to compliance standards and ethical practices. Look for candidates with integrity, professionalism, and a commitment to Maryland’s cannabis regulations. 

Hire a diverse team. A diverse team brings a range of perspectives and experiences, enriching your dispensary’s culture and customer interactions. Embrace inclusivity in your hiring practices to foster a welcoming environment for all.

Who Should You Hire For Your Dispensary Team in Maryland?

Job TitleAverage Salary in Maryland
Budtender$27, 576 – $35, 961 yearly
Store managerApprox. $117,571 yearly
Inventory manager$61,750 – $111,625 yearly
Security Officers$50,321 – $73,673 yearly
Legal Counsel$25,000 – $65,000 yearly
Chartered Public Accountant$25,000 – $65,000 yearly
Compliance Officer$25,000 – $65,000 yearly
Security Consultant$25,000 – $65,000 yearly

* Source: Talent, Indeed

Training Requirements 

The Maryland Cannabis Board requires licensees to train their registered agents. The licensee must provide training to registered agents covering federal and state cannabis laws, standard operating procedures (SOP), alcohol and drug-free workplace policies according to COMAR, measures to prevent diversion of cannabis, and security and safety procedures. 

Registered agents must also complete a responsible vendor training program that meets the minimum requirements specified in the Alcoholic Beverages and Cannabis Article, sections 36-1001—36-1003. Additionally, the training program must be registered with the Administration as outlined in section E(4) of the regulation. 

But are you equipped to train your staff? As a first-time dispensary owner in Maryland, you don’t have to be either. Partner with Forte for expert training! Their program is specifically designed for dispensary license holders, giving you the tools you need to succeed. Forte’s team of experienced cannabis retail professionals will guide you through every step, from planning and launch to growing your business.

Work on Promoting and Advertising Your Business 

Participate in community events, support neighborhood projects, and promote open communication to foster strong ties within the community. This strategy is an excellent way to advertise and market your company. Building a good relationship with the community will help your company become more widely recognized and foster a supportive environment. To increase visibility, consider other marketing strategies like flyer distribution and internet promotions.

How Can Cure8 Help

Obtaining a cannabis dispensary license is a complex endeavor, demanding considerable effort, time, and meticulous documentation. However, the true test begins post-licensing, where establishing your dispensary while navigating strict municipal, state, and cannabis laws is paramount for success.

Cure8 is here to guide you every step of the way. Contact us today for expert assistance in designing and implementing a winning dispensary customer experience tailored to your brand.

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