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The cannabis industry is one of the fastest-growing markets in the nation, and business is booming. Sales are expected to reach $13.6 billion in 2019 and grow to as much as $30 billion by 2025. It’s not too late to get in on the ground floor, but it can be tricky to break into this fast-growing industry. Before you build your marijuana empire, you’ll need to do your due diligence. 

 

1. Move to a Cannabis-Friendly State

If you already live in one of the 11 states that allow recreational use (or Washington D.C.), you may be able to skip this part. However, if you live in a more prohibitive state, your first essential step is to go where the market is. These are your current options: 

 

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Illinois 
  • Massachusetts 
  • Maine 
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Vermont
  • Washington

 

Other states—like New Mexico, New York, and New Jersey—are weighing legislative possibilities for legalization and maybe the next in line. For now, though, the options above are your best bet.

 

While 33 states allow medical marijuana, they aren’t the best locations for people just looking to break into the industry. The regulations tend to be a lot more stringent and the opportunities far more scarce. For best results, stick with the recreational-use states. 

 

2. Know the Laws

If you don’t know the laws and regulations inside and out, you’re going to get into a world of trouble before your enterprise even takes off. The laws in California are vastly different from those in Colorado and Nevada, so make sure to research and learn all applicable requirements in your state and jurisdiction. Among other things, you’ll need to know: 

 

  • Licensing requirements
  • Packaging requirements
  • Applicable taxes

 

In addition, you’ll need to understand the minutiae of marketing, handling, and selling cannabis products. For example, cannabis imagery—like the pot leaf—is often forbidden for public display, and some states impose maximum THC restrictions on products sold. Failure to play by the rules can result in massive fines or even the loss of your license. 

 

3. Work in a Dispensary for a While  

Even if you ultimately plan on starting your own business, it’s often a good idea to begin at the entry-level. By working with experienced sellers and cultivators, you’ll learn a tremendous deal about the laws, the products, the terminology, and the trends. You’ll make industry connections, you’ll learn which products are most worth your time, and you’ll become an expert in specific cannabis strains, CBD delivery methods, and even lesser-known cannabinoids like cannabigerol (CBG). Most importantly, you’ll learn all about the business side of cannabis. Come for the paycheck; stay for the free education. 

 

4. Learn Your Trade 

Decide what you want to do, and become an expert. If you’re passionate about edibles, 

learn how to make the best brownies in the business. If you want to be a master grower, start with an entry-level job as a bud trimmer and learn the nuances of seeding, lighting, and cooling. If you want to open your own dispensary, make sure you have a rock-solid business plan (it’s highly recommended that you get your MBA first). Now you can buy weed online and reap all the benefits.

 

5. Save Your Money 

Regardless of your focus, breaking into the cannabis industry requires a lot of capital. For example, the annual licensing fee in California can range from $1,200 to $44,000, and that’s before you even get started. The initial costs for cultivation can exceed half a million dollars when you account for warehouse space, growth equipment, lighting, security systems, and labor. Running a dispensary has its own exorbitant set of costs, including licensing, rent, inventory, and wages. Business loans are notoriously hard to come by for canna-businesses, so make sure to save as much money as possible. 

 

If this all sounds daunting, don’t worry. Just start small, and do whatever you can to get your foot in the door. As you grow within the industry, the opportunities will come.