by Nate Kurash
When I started in this industry four years ago, I had no idea what to expect. I had a tremendous opportunity to experience the entire process from start to finish with virgin eyes. Fast forward to now and I am part of a group that owns three cultivation and three processing licenses in Missouri. It has been a crazy ride, and here is what I have learned thus far.
• WAIT until the rules and regulations are released before making any major decisions, i.e. buying or leasing a piece of real estate, hiring a consultant, investing money into another person’s/entitity’s “soon-to-be cannabis business.” Everyone assumes they are going to get a license. That is NOT the case.
• Start becoming familiar with the 280E tax code. Filing taxes for a “normal” business is hard enough. When you are in the cannabis business, it is even more complicated.
• Applying for a license is hard, but once you are awarded a license the real work begins. Getting your business off the ground is NOT a part-time, I-will-do-it-in-my-spare-time job. Be ready to work 60 to 70 hours a week.
• Being first to market is huge. The demand for cannabis is strong, and when supply is low and demand is high, there is a lot of money to be made. That being said, do not rush, be process-driven, have a plan and follow it.
• Choose your business and investment partners wisely. Take the time to vet them, perform your due diligence, and do not be afraid to ask the tough questions. If you are not satisfied with the answers and/or documents they provide, walk away.
• Security is one of the aspects of this business most scrutinized by the regulators. DO NOT go cheap on security. It can delay you moving forward should you get a license. Inadequate security is one of the most common reasons your license can get suspended or revoked.
• This is an expensive business to be in. Whatever you budget, double it. Be ready for delays and price increases in all aspects of the business.
• The devil is in the details as they say. Find yourself a good attorney and make sure they review ANY and ALL documents before you sign them.
• Plan for the best but prepare for the worst. Numerous things will go wrong and you need to be resilient. This industry is tough. There is a lot of money to be made and, conversely, a lot of money to be lost.
• When dealing with the regulators, keep in mind these people are overworked. Their department is understaffed. In this industry, the squeaky