Are you thinking of starting a marijuana business? A few years ago this may have seemed like something you wouldn’t easily have the option to do. Times have changed and now as the stigma starts to lower the barrier to entry into the world of cannabis has become a lot easier. The legalization of cannabis across the United States and other countries means that you can become a mogul in the world of cannabis. However, to become applicable, you must follow all of the local laws and guidelines.

Cannabis is still regulated to a very high level, and this is a good thing. There have to be guidelines set in place in order to keep the use of cannabis safe for people (and the supply of marijuana at top notch).

Basic Legal Requirements for Marijuana Business

To start, there are a few basics to be aware of. Due to regulations, you need to make sure you are complying with the standards within the state you are residing or looking to start a business. Wherever your business operates will play a large part, as will the area of business you are working in. For instance, growing marijuana might have different restrictions than selling it state by state.

A business license is one of the very first steps, along with a permit and  registration documents.

You will need:

  • A general business license. This will legally allow you to trade as a business in the area specified.
  • Your tax ID number. This means you can be tracked by the tax authorities and it prevents issues like money laundering.
  • Permits. Issued to allow you to operate in certain business sectors. Different permits may be needed for different cannabis businesses. For instance, if you prepare edibles, you may need a license for food prep.
  • Business formation documents. These formalize the business, partners involved and who has the responsibility and liabilities within the business.
  • “Doing business as” filing. This is a document that allows you to trade as a name different to your own, and to effectively brand your marijuana business for cannabis marketing purposes

Marijuana Business License Requirements 

Unfortunately, we can’t give you one specific set of requirements that covers the entire country of the United States. Different states and countries have their own set of requirements and you will need to check according to your locality. For instance, some states have only allowed a few companies to have business licenses for cannabis.

When applying for a marijuana business license in your local area, a lot will depend on your personal background and residency, too. If you have been convicted of crimes in the past it is very unlikely that you would be issued with a cannabis business license.

While we wish we could advise on the specifics of licensing, the best way to get this information is to speak to your local state government or consult with local law practitioners to help you to establish what is required. A solicitor will also be needed to keep you safe from a legal standpoint.

Which department is responsible for marijuana business licensing?

This is another question to which there is not one simple answer. The responsible department can vary depending on where you are based, too.

In many states you might need to file all of your paperwork with your Secretary of State office. There may be local agencies who are responsible for cannabis licensing though, so it is worth checking.

In Nevada, for instance, the responsibility of regulating all of the recreational and  medical marijuana falls on the Department of Taxation.

Californian businesses have the option to go through agencies such as the Bureau of Cannabis Control, CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing and Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch. These are all responsible for different areas of the cannabis industry, so work out whether you are involved in cultivation, retail or production before contacting one.

Pay close attention to local regulations

This really is the best piece of advice anyone can give you. States are all responsible for their own cannabis laws, and they all have different pieces of legislation and guidelines. The locality in which you plan to operate will dictate exactly what licenses and permissions are required. There is a lot of red tape in a lot of the USA, so don’t take any chances with what you are doing. Make sure you are legally covered before trading.

Maybe you’re more interested in working within cannabis? Check out these 15 unique jobs in the cannabis industry. 

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