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Thinking of Opening up Your Own Cannabis Dispensary?

April 18, 2020

It really is a new age. Students are going to school with the dream of working in the cannabis field, and there’s no catch. It’s a booming and competitive industry, and if you’re thinking about getting involved, you’re opening the door for a lot of opportunities. 

If you’re already in or considering attending school, you may find yourself wondering, “what should I major in to open a dispensary?” It’s a big question that, unlike many other occupational fields, does not have a long history to look back on and reference. 

We’ve spent time with plenty of cannabis dispensary owners. After all, our Washington dispensary line spans six different stores across two states! That’s a lot of experience opening and managing dispensaries. 

One of the biggest things we’ve noticed over time as dispensary owners and staff is the amount of work this industry takes. Not only are we running a business and facing typical business stressors like many other companies, we have to ensure compliance through many avenues in this highly-regulated industry. 

See Related: How Much Does it Cost to Open a Dispensary?

Of course, it’s all worth it. We love our dispensaries and helping customers get exactly what they need for a successful experience with cannabis. 

So if you’re looking at the possibility of opening a dispensary in the future, let’s get into the heart of it!

Business degrees open doors for aspiring dispensary owners

We’ve heard many dispensary owners echo the same sentiment: owning a cannabis dispensary is just like any other retail job. It’s more fun, but it’s still work, and if you hate retail, you’re not going to like dispensary life. 

If your goal is to successfully open and run a dispensary, it’s a good idea to become an expert in all things business. This will help you immensely as you navigate all of the regulatory hurdles that come along with the canna-business. 

It’s not required that you become a business major to open a dispensary, but it can be helpful. There really is no magic path of education to lead you to own a dispensary. If you have the tenacity, you can make it happen. 

If you wanted to run a farm or be more involved in the scientific side of cannabis, a different path of study is in order. But as a cannabis dispensary owner, your job is on the retail side of the industry, which is why a business degree can be useful. 

Business degrees aren’t just all-encompassing though. There are a lot of business-related degrees you can obtain to lead you toward owning a cannabis dispensary. 

See Related: What Is A Dispensary?

What To Major In – Types of business degrees for opening a dispensary

Majoring in the accounting sector of business may not be the most direct path toward opening a dispensary, that is unless you want to be functioning as the accountant as well. However, you will still pick up a good business foundation from this major. 

Entrepreneurship 

Ding ding ding! If you’re looking to start, own, and manage a business, you’re going to be an entrepreneur. What better degree than an entrepreneurship one to accomplish this?

You’ll cover all sorts of business topics while getting your degree, from marketing to accounting and public relations. 

If you follow this course of study, you’ll be setting yourself up to be a well-rounded, successful entrepreneur. Whether that means in the cannabis industry or beyond, the world will be your oyster because you’ll be equipped with transferable skills. 

Marketing 

As a marketing major, you’ll know exactly what it takes to grow and manage a business from the ground up. Your focus will be on market research and strategies, as well as effective communication. 

You’ll know exactly what you need to do to build a reputable brand and retain customers, without having to hire outside help to walk you through the process. 

Business Management 

A degree in business management is a good option as well. You’ll learn the foundational principles of managing a business, from accounting to marketing and project management. 

Business management majors often go off to work in sales, administration, and other business-related work, but it’s a versatile degree that will undoubtedly have you prepared to run your own business if that’s the path you choose. 

See Related: Where Can I Smoke Pot In Seattle?

Consider a degree in economics to open a dispensary 

Some aspiring business owners shy away from studying economics because of its heavy focus on math. 

If you can handle the math aspect, you’ll set yourself up for a solid future with an economics degree. You’ll have a deeper understanding of money distribution and the ins and outs of trades and exchanges which will be imperative for running a business. 

If you’ll be avoiding economics for the heavy focus on math, keep in mind you’ll need to take some math-based (think accounting) classes for business degrees as well. 

See Related: How Many Grams is in a Pound of Weed?

Tips for preparing to open a dispensary in the future 

We’re so excited to be in a world where college students can study for a future in cannabis and nobody bats an eye. There are so many new jobs available with the rise of this booming industry. If you’re seeking answers to the question, “what should I major in to open a dispensary?” it means you’re already taking the next steps to be successful in cannabis.

Remember: Cannabis dispensaries are retail businesses. The first thing you should do to prepare to open a dispensary is to learn all you can about the world of business. That’s why we recommend a path of study that is related to business or economics. 

There aren’t any cannabis business degrees (that we know of – yet!) that will outline your path of study for you. Instead, you’ll need to become an expert in the world of business and apply that knowledge to the cannabis industry.

You don’t need a degree to apply for a business license or a cannabis retailer license. But the skills you learn while obtaining your degree will probably make the transition into the business world even easier. 

At this time, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) is not accepting new applications. So if you’re rushing to get your degree finished or worried because you’re just getting started or planning for your future, don’t stress too much. We are waiting for the WSLCB to announce the reopening of applications, but for now, there are no plans. 

How can I prepare to open a dispensary before finishing school?

Research, research, research. Understand the ins and outs of getting your business started so there are no surprises when the time finally comes to apply for a retailer license. 

Read through everything about marijuana licensing on the WSLCB website. Talk to other dispensary owners to see what they wish they had done differently or known before launching their careers. 

The cost of opening a dispensary can be a shock to some. You’ll need to pay $250 just to apply, and upon acceptance, you’ll have to pay $1,387 for issuance and renewal each year. 

Getting started is going to take a lot of time and require you to check off a lot of boxes. Save up, do your research, and plan accordingly to fit in with your path of study.

Hopefully, once the retail applications open back up in Washington, you’ll be prepared to launch your business. 

Satori MJ is a recreational cannabis shop featuring many dispensary locations! Check us on out on YelpLeaflyInstagramFacebookGoogle and Twitter.

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