Tips for Opening a Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Texas

Learn some tips about how to open a cannabis dispensary and be involved with cannabis community and advocacy in Texas.

Written by Lisa Sewell

I founded Comfort Solutions Cannabis Co. in May of 2018 and will be applying through the Department of Public Safety when the Texas Compassionate Use act expands during the 2019 Legislative session. Currently my company focuses on the retail space of the medical dispensary without cultivation, but this may change depending on the bills that will be introduced here in the upcoming months of legislation. We want to provide the safest, highest quality products to our patients with their specific needs.

When I began my business plan, I realized that not only are Texas residents under-educated about the plant itself, but the Endocannabinoid system, along with the medicinal benefits this plant provides. Therein lies one of our first obstacles of our Texas landscape:

In order to obtain a license through the state of Texas, you must first have a location. The catch-22 is how can you have a location confirmed without having a state license? It doesn’t add up. So, as a business owner, I recommend you focus on the cities that will be more welcoming to the cannabis industry. How do you do this? Here is what I have learned:

  1. Find a location that you vision your company in.
  2. Contact the Management company or owner directly who manages the site. Introduce yourself, explain your Mission statement and frankly ask if their owners are willing to lease to a Medical Cannabis dispensary. My most common reaction was, “No,” or “That is a great question. Let me call you back.” What intrigued me is almost every commercial real estate agent called me back. I don’t think it was because they knew their owner would say no, but they, themselves are interested in this scope of the market and it is just not being talked about enough in North Texas, specifically. I have had many “yes” too, so don’t get discouraged.
  3. Once you confirm an owner is willing to work with you, contact the cities’ Zoning and Permit Department Director. Email them explaining your position in the industry, your intentions with your company, and request official Zoning Special Use permits.
  4. Don’t forget that most of these cities know about the Texas Compassionate Use Act, but it is not on their high priority to-do list of zoning. They know it’s an immeasurably valuable tax revenue resource, but, with the application process currently closed as of today, this is why it’s the time to reach out to your cities and request zoning.
  5. How to get the City department to follow-up with zoning requirements and not blowing it off: Reach out to the City Council. Introduce yourself here as well. Request to speak at their monthly Board meeting. Explain intentions and request a special use permit for your business.

Big Tip: Most City Council members are familiar with the TCUP, but not with cannabis in general. Your success with the city is contingent on being able to work directly alongside their City Council. Always remember they are your biggest ally in the success of your business; they just need to be educated. This is your job.

Note: This is an important process in the success of your company. Once you get State approval, you will then submit your permit application through the local cities’ Zoning department. This must be approved prior to confirming your space with the landlord or owner, so it is understood that by accomplishing this will expedite your ‘Opening process’.

Some other helpful tips for our Texas community:

  • Make sure your operational procedures work and work well. Do your research and buy books such as “Starting & Running a Marijuana Business” by Debby Goldsberry.
  • Currently Texas is a seed to sale state. This means you can only sell what you manufacture in house. There is no transportation plan in place. Let’s face it, we know what amazing products are available in other states but are not allowed to provide it to our Texas community, so make sure you understand what seed to sale means.
  • Your attorney is your best friend. Make sure when obtaining an attorney they are very familiar with cannabis laws not just in Texas but in all states. They need to actively be following these markets to ensure you have the best chance in not making a drastic innocent error.
  • Research your trademark laws. As the cannabis industry booms thousands of company names are entered every day. Trademark can apply not just to your company name, but to the design of your store and setup.

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019 is our first day of the 2019 Legislative Session. In Texas our legislators only meet every two years to review laws and vote on them. Thanks to Texas NORML and Texans Responsible for Marijuana Policy there are bills being introduced this year, but most of our legislators are uneducated about the benefits of cannabis and need to hear from their constituents. If you are interested in making your voice heard, start calling the representatives now. If you want to assist in Lobby Day at the Capitol in Austin, please join us Wednesday, February 6th, 2019. More information can be found on . Texas Responsible for Responsible Marijuana Policy is a coalition of organizations and individuals who are committed to promote honest, fact-based dialogue, remove penalties for adults’ possession of marijuana for personal use, and allowing seriously and terminally ill patients to safely obtain and use medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendations. Heather Fazio has done an amazing job keeping this group to the highest of standards and is a great resource for our Texas community!

If you are interested in joining the Texas Cannabis community as an entrepreneur, the time is now! North Texas Cannabis Group is located in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and provides routine meetings, both macro and micro events. You can find them on Facebook. Green Seed Nation, an accelerator program founded by Rick Martinez, is in the San Antonio area. Both companies are committed to providing up to date information on the next steps here and what the landscape is looking like in the days to come.

So what’s the next step Texas? Get involved with local groups. Educate everyone you know. Vote. Begin your business plan. Take comprehensive educational courses. Most importantly, don’t get discouraged. The growing trend in the United States is moving in a positive direction for us, and the larger we stand together the more powerful we will be.

We grow better together. Onward!

Author BIo:Lisa Sewell is the CEO of Comfort Solutions Cannabis Co., is a proud mother, cannabis advocate and pioneer in the North Texas cannabis industry. After attending the University of Texas Arlington, Lisa worked for the multifamily and community management industries for 15 years.

“I’ve always understood the importance of cannabis on a personal level, and have seen firsthand the positive differences it has made on so many peoples lives. Being so empowered by the movement and wonderful people in the industry, I knew my purpose in life. I am a caregiver by heart, and I could not be more pleased to help others find that, too.”

She has received education though Pharmacology University, a member of multiple of local advocacy groups including of Board member for DFW NORML, member of Texas NORML, member of NTX Cannabis Group, and soon to be member of Texas Americans for Safe Access.

Comments
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StationHand
StationHand

I agree; awfully optimistic. Texas regs are horribly restrictive: One prescribable condition (intractable epilepsy?); <.3% THC oils only; public physician registry (Dr Shaming) and tough CE requirements. The legislature decreed there would be at least 3 dispensaries state-wide and that DPS would regulate them and adopt provisions for future licensing; DPS has approved only 3 dispensaries (even though CBD stores are popping up everywhere) and has yet to lay out a licensing program. Entrusting the program to DPS, a partisan for the prison-industrial complex, ensures the CUA will remain a sad joke. We'll have Indian Casinos before we have reasonable medical cannabis regs (and rec? um, yeah). Best to push for decriminalization and for OK to adopt rec rules in 2020. Its a much shorter drive to Durant or Lawton.

Vujotx
Vujotx

I think this article is a little more optimistic than the current reality of the program in Texas. After having worked for a Texas dispensary and worked very closely with DPS during dispensary inspections. I can assure you they aren’t too keen on even letting the current dispensaries expand. You can raise all the investment money you want to, but at the end of the day it won’t change how DPS views the CUP. If DPS won’t change their perspective, we all have a problem and a long road ahead.

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