While any architect, consultant, or prospective business owner would prefer to plan out and design a business over the course of months, individuals who seek to open a cannabis business do not always have this luxury. Since there is no federal cannabis business application or standard, prospective cannabis business owners must comply with whatever guidelines and timeframes are adopted by the areas in which they are applying.
When licensing periods are announced, regulatory authorities establish guidelines for the cannabis business application, often requiring documentation such as a floor plan design, business plan, and security plan. Regulatory authorities also frequently implement license caps that limit the number of legal cannabis businesses permitted in an area by business type. This not only makes cannabis business licensing more competitive, but also creates additional challenges when combined with short deadlines.
Why Such Short Deadlines?
Cannabis business applications are typically only accepted during a predetermined window of time, and once this submission deadline has passed, no further applications will be accepted. Though the regulatory authority may open another licensing process in the future, there is no guarantee on when that will occur.
Some areas require licensing approval at both the state and local level, and approval from both entities is crucial to operating a legal cannabis business. When this is the case, localities may only allow application submissions during set licensing periods, but the state will often allow submissions on an ongoing basis to accommodate varying local submission deadlines.
The timeframes allowed for compiling the necessary materials for a cannabis business application vary by state, and sometimes even by localities within a state. Regulatory authorities may announce a licensing period months before they begin accepting applications, or they may only give prospective cannabis business owners a few weeks to submit.
Additionally, some cannabis applications are graded and approved on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. When this is the case, prospective business owners must try to put together all the components of a winning application, and must try to do so before other competing cannabis business applicants.
3 Ways to Ensure Quality
When prospective cannabis business owners are met with particularly tight turnarounds, the licensing process can seem like a race to completion. Regardless of the reason for the short deadline, there are still opportunities for prospective cannabis business owners to ensure quality and compliance on vital components of the application, such as the floor plan design.
The purpose of the floor plan in the cannabis business application is to demonstrate compliance and a commitment to preventing crime and diversion of cannabis. Additionally, this floor plan must also include all of the necessary work areas and elements necessary for the successful operation of that cannabis business type, such as a point-of-sales area for a retailer or flower rooms for a cultivator.
Since the floor plan is such an important section of a cannabis business application, it is crucial that it is designed correctly and compliantly the first time. Some of the best ways to accomplish this are to consult with experts, manage the project closely, and to conduct compliance checks.
Consult with Experts
One of the most important things that a prospective cannabis business owner can do to guarantee the success of their application is to consult with subject matter experts with experience in the cannabis industry. While some individuals may be tempted to draft portions of the application themselves or hire inexperienced consultants or people they know in an attempt to submit as quickly as possible, this can be detrimental to winning a license. Even if applicants are allowed to resubmit, failure can cause lengthy delays or cause those invested in the project to back out.
It is better to consult with experts and partner with professionals from the start to ensure a quality submission. For the proposed cannabis business’ floor plan, this may include architects, designers, and lawyers, as well as any other application writers or professionals attached to the project.
Manage the Project Closely
Once subject matter experts and professionals have been sourced to create the cannabis business application and floor plan design, someone will need to ensure that everyone stays on track to meet deadlines and has access to the tools they need to complete their components. For example, an architect will need to know information about the existing property and goals for the design of the new business, as well as the address so that they can adhere to local laws.
Those seeking to open a cannabis business may choose to manage their project themselves, or they may hire a third-party consultant or lawyer to serve as project manager. While individuals with cannabis experience may prefer to act as project manager themselves, those with little or no industry experience would likely benefit from the knowledge of a third-party to keep the project on track under a short turn-around.
Another important precursor of any quality cannabis business application is the use of multiple compliance checks. While every professional involved with the project should be familiar with the regulations that govern the application, adherence to these requirements should be verified by the prospective business owner or a third-party project manager. This verifies that all relevant regulations are followed and that none of the requirements have been omitted.
For floor plan designs, this could include compliance with state and local cannabis laws, zoning laws, the International Building Code, and ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Though compliance checks can seem like an after-thought when dealing with short deadlines, they are a vital step in creating a winning cannabis business application.
How Can RDC Help?
RDC’s team of expert architects and designers have worked extensively with retailers and cultivators in the cannabis industry. Our architects and designers work with business owners to design a successful and compliant business and we are ready to help design floor plans for cannabis business applications in New Jersey, New York, California, and throughout the United States.
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