Ask Cheri

Words of Advice on Starting a Marijuana Business 

By Cheri Sicard
July 29, 2020

Dear Cheri

My state is expected to legalize marijuana soon.  I am a chef and want to open a cannabis restaurant.  I think I even have a great location.  As a fellow cannabis chef do you have any words of wisdom for someone starting a marijuana business?

As chef no, but as a cannabis professional, yes I do.  I do not mean to rain on your parade, but please, SLOW WAY DOWN!!!

What people often fail to realize that “legalizing marijuana” really means REGULATING marijuana.  And mean regulating with a capital R!  I mean LOTS of lows, rules, regulations, and compliance requirements.  There is often a substantial cash entry level requirement.  And sadly, so far, most states do not allow restaurants at all (this is slowly starting to change in some locations).

If your state has not yet legalized, you probably still do not know what those regulations entail.  So before you settle on a location, you will definitely need to know those and you will DEFINITELY need to consult a good cannabis business attorney.

Like any other business, a marijuana business needs serious planning to succeed, but all those regulations make it more difficult than most other businesses.  Also as young as it is, a thriving industry with deep pocketed investors is already in place, and sadly it is these big players who determine regulations.  Likewise, those regulations often favor big corporate entities.

The best place, in my opinion, for anyone even considering a cannabis business to start, is Debby Goldsberry’s excellent book “Starting and Running a Marijuana Business.”  Debby is a successful cannabis entrepreneur, CEO of Magnolia Oakland dispensary, and a long time cannabis advocate and activist.  Her book does not sugar coat things, but if you are serious about running a marijuana business you wouldn’t want than anyway.

To be sure starting and succeeding in a legal marijuana business is a huge challenge, but it is not impossible.  This book tackles the complicated topic in full, in a practical and no-nonsense manner.

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