How to Start a Cannabis Brand

How to Start a Cannabis Brand

The cannabis market is on fire!

States are legalizing the industry and customers are more open to weed than ever.

Plus, large corporations are funding + acquiring smaller companies with innovative products.

It’s a great market either way!

But the cannabis market is a heavily regulated one so you’ll need to follow the law closely.

Here’s what you need to know…


1. Start your company

If you’re operating a business without registering as an LLC or Corporation, you’re taking a big risk. Your personal assets can be taken to pay your business debts. That means you can lose your car, house, and bank account on a product injury, a bad business deal, or a freak accident.

This is so important for cannabis brands because you never know how your product will react to people’s allergies or health. If someone develops a reaction to your product, you can be sued for damages.

Youʼll start by completing the state paperwork to register your entity.

Read more: How to Start an LLC

In states where cannabis is legal, you’ll need to follow your state laws closely.

In California, you’ll need to start with a local permit and then obtain a license from the state. Check with your local jurisdiction first to see the requirements for obtaining a local license. You may need to meet residency requirements, verify that you do not have a criminal record of certain crimes, and provide a business plan, odor mitigation plan, security plan, community regulation plan, and proposed hours of operation. You’ll need to ensure that you’re operating in an area that is zoned for cannabis operations.

2. Lock down your brand

Trademarks give you the exclusive rights to use your company name nationally.

So if someone else registers your trademark, they’ll own the rights to your name nationally. You'll only be able to use it in your geographic region (typically your city). That's not ideal!

Think about how many brand pieces feature your company name: your website, social media, business cards, products, marketing materials, press links, inventory, etc. If you want to operate nationally, you'll need to change all of that + pull back all inventory with the brand on it, or possibly pay monetary damages. You'll lose customers, money, and valuable momentum.

Bottom line: if you’re building a brand, you need to trademark it asap!

 Read more: How to Trademark a Brand in 3 Steps

3. Find your products

Have a plan for what you’ll sell.

You’ll want to have a contract in place with your manufacturer that spells out the items produced, specifications, production + payment timelines, and inspection rights.


4. Create a website

You need a gorgeous branded website to attract customers + convert them to buyers. You’ll also need a personalized subscription terms + conditions to secure your customer service policy.

Thinking it doesn't matter? Think again! Your online policies have a big impact on customer happiness and your bottom line. Plus, they'll need to meet certain legal requirements to prevent fines and lawsuits.

Your policy tells customers what they need to know about buying from your shop. You'll want to spell out the rules for placing orders, how they’ll ship, and how to cancel an order.

Fun fact…those FAQ pages may be helpful but they’re not binding on customers. You need to create a feature that requires customers to agree to your Terms of Use before placing an order.

Read more: What Your Website Terms + Conditions Need to Say

Nicole SwartzStart