Updated in October 2021 | Virginia Cannabis License Consultants
Best practices for winning a license and starting a cannabis business from our Virginia Cannabis License Consulting team.
Are you planning to start a cannabis business in Virginia? Now is the perfect time to get started.
Analysts predict the adult-use cannabis market in Virginia will generate ~$1.4 billion in annual sales by its 5th year, as reported by Marijuana Business Daily. A tremendous opportunity for east coast cannabis entrepreneurs.
However, before you can start your cannabis business, you’ll need to apply for a license. The application process can be confusing, time-consuming, and brutally competitive. But worry not!
In this article, our Virginia Cannabis License Consulting team will provide you with actions that you can take now to improve your chances of winning an adult-use cannabis license in Virginia.
You will receive advice and insights from our Virginia cannabis consulting team that has one of the highest success rates in the industry (90.12%) when it comes to winning licenses to operate marijuana businesses.
Virginia Cannabis Market Overview
Before our Virginia Cannabis Consultants dive into tips on how to win a license, let’s first discuss the current status of the Virginia Cannabis Industry. First, Virginia medical marijuana sales began in October 2020. On the other hand, adult-use sales are scheduled to begin on January 1st, 2024 (While 2024 seems like a long time from now, to improve your odds of winning a cannabis license in Virginia, you’ll want to begin preparing now).
Analysts predict sales of medical marijuana in Virginia to reach up to $20m – $25m in 2021, according to the 2021 MJBiz Daily Factbook.
Source: MJBiz Daily Factbook 2021
There are, at the moment, only five medical marijuana vertically integrated licenses currently operating in Virginia. However, once adult-use licenses are issued there are going to be dozens of new operators.
Adult-Use Cannabis Market Overview
In contrast to the medical marijuana market in Virginia, adult-use sales are expected to far exceed medical cannabis sales.
For instance, a study conducted by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission found that an adult-use cannabis market in Virginia could reach $613 million – $1.02 billion in annual sales by the fifth year.
Given the proposed 25% marijuana tax rate and the existing 5.3% state sales tax, the state is looking at $184 – 308 million in potential tax revenue.
Additionally, the study estimates the adult-use market will create more than 11,000 jobs in the state by the fifth year.
Overview of Adult-Use Cannabis Laws
Back in April 2021, Governor Northam passed House bill 2312 (HB2312), which is identical to the Senate bill (SB 1406), and it legalized adult-use cannabis in Virginia.
The bill creates the structure for regulating Virginia’s adult-use cannabis businesses, including the issuance of licenses to entrepreneurs and operational requirements. Also, the bill emphasizes public safety, social equity (see below for a description of social equity), and public health.
Virginia is in the process of creating the cannabis control authority that will oversee Virginia’s cannabis industry. Once created, the cannabis control authority and general assembly will reenact the bill in 2022 to complete the regulations and implement the social equity program.
Now, let’s discuss what the timeline for adult-use cannabis in Virginia looks like.
Timeline for Virginia Cannabis License Application
While adult-use cannabis consumption and possession began in July 2021, the regulated sales of adult-use cannabis won’t begin until January 1st, 2024.
To meet the start date of regulated adult-use sales, our Virginia Cannabis Business Consultants estimate Virginia will begin accepting and issuing licenses during 2023.
Our Virginia cannabis consultants will update the timeframes once more information is released. You can return here for the up to date information on when Virginia will begin marijuana license applications.
Types of Virginia Cannabis Licenses Available
First, our Virginia Cannabis Application Writers recommend familiarizing yourself with the types of Virginia cannabis licenses the state will issue. The types of cannabis licenses you can apply for are as follows:
- Marijuana Cultivation Facilities (maximum of 450)
- Marijuana Manufacturing Facilities (maximum of 60)
- Retail Marijuana Store (maximum of 400)
- Marijuana Wholesalers (maximum of 25)
You’ll need a separate license for each separate place of business you intend to operate at. There are also limitations on the number of licenses you can have ownership in or serve as a manager for (see below for more details).
Below is a short description of each Virginia cannabis business license. If you plan to apply for any of these cannabis licenses, I encourage you to reach out to learn how our Virginia cannabis consultants can help you obtain a license.
As implied by the name, a Virginia Cannabis Cultivation License allows you to:
- cultivate, package, and sell cannabis to licensed manufacturers, retailers, and other cultivation facilities;
- buy and sell cannabis seeds and plants to and from other cannabis cultivation facilities in Virginia; and
- sell immature marijuana plants and seeds to licensed retailers.
Are you interested in starting a cannabis cultivation business in Virginia? If so, click the button below to speak with Quantum 9’s Virginia Cannabis Application Writers to learn how we can help you win a Virginia marijuana cultivation license.
In contrast to the cultivation license, the Virginia Manufacturing license allows you to conduct cannabis extractions and infuse cannabis products.
However, a manufacturer cannot cultivate cannabis. Instead, the cannabis flower used as raw materials must be purchased from a licensed cultivator in Virginia.
More specifically, the manufacturing license allows you to produce:
- Vape cartridges;
- and more.
Does the manufacturing license in Virginia sound appealing to you? If yes, contact our Virginia Cannabis Application Writers now to begin putting together your cannabis application.
Retail Cannabis Store License
Perhaps of interest to most, the retail marijuana store license allows you to:
- purchase marijuana, immature marijuana plants, and seedlings from a marijuana cultivation facility;
- purchase marijuana and marijuana products from a marijuana manufacturing facility;
- and to sell retail marijuana, retail marijuana products, immature marijuana plants, and seedlings to consumers.
Unfortunately, the following is prohibited for Virginia cannabis retail stores:
- Automated dispensing/vending machine;
- Drive-through sales window;
- Internet-based sales platform;
- Delivery service; and
- Giving away products for free.
Work with our Virginia Cannabis Application Writers to make the process of applying for your marijuana license a lot easier.
Our cannabis application writers in Virginia are experts in crafting narratives that will win you a retail license. For instance, we’ve helped clients get licenses for cannabis retail operations in over 20 states including both medical and adult-use markets.
The Virginia Marijuana Wholesaler License allows you to:
- purchase or take possession of cannabis, cannabis products, immature cannabis plants, and cannabis seeds from cultivation, manufacturing, or another wholesaler in Virginia; and
- sell and resell cannabis, cannabis products immature cannabis plants, and cannabis seeds to a manufacturing facility, cannabis retail store, or another cannabis wholesaler.
As stated in the Bill, wholesalers must ensure that their facility meets all sanitary standards adopted by the Board. This is to prevent product contamination and promote product quality.
Also, the Cannabis Wholesaler License must use an approved Seed-to-Sale tracking system for tracking all cannabis from the point of purchase to the point of sale.
Testing Facility License
Lastly, the fifth type of license that Virginia plans to issue is the Marijuana Testing Facility License.
In the case of a Virginia Cannabis Testing License, it permits you to:
- develop, research, and test marijuana, marijuana products, and other substances; and
- test cannabis and products for your own facility, from another licensee, or an individual consumer.
Especially important, the licensee must obtain accreditation pursuant to standard ISO/IEC 17025 of the International Organization for Standardization by a third-party accrediting body.
Of equal importance, the licensee cannot have any interest (ownership) in a cultivation, manufacturing, or retail operation. Our Virginia Cannabis Application Writer’s opinion is that the last provision helps to avoid fraudulent test results and conflicts of interest.
Now that you are familiar with the various types of adult-use cannabis business licenses in Virginia, let’s examine the license application process.
Application Process for Virginia Cannabis Business Licenses
You’ll want to thoroughly understand the process of applying for Virginia Cannabis Licenses if you want to win.
But keep in mind that the final application instructions for cannabis business licenses are not published yet. However, there are some general guidelines discussing the licensing process in Virginia, which our consultants summarize below.
First, you will have to apply for a cannabis license using the system or form provided to you by the State. Most States will use an electronic system.
Writing Detailed Business and Operation Plans
You’ll likely have to submit multiple narratives, including but not limited to a:
- Business Plan;
- Financial Plan;
- Operations Plan;
- Seed-to-sale Tracking Plan;
- Security Plan;
- Social Equity Plan;
- Environmental Plan;
- Community Impact Plan;
- Packaging Plan;
- and more.
Your application writing can easily result in hundreds, if not thousands of pages of technical writing.
Demonstrating Team Experience
During the application, you’ll also have to identify your team members and their related experience.
Choosing a location for your business
Another important aspect of the application process is identifying a location you’ll want to operate your business at.
Paying the application fees
Finally, when you submit, you’ll have to pay the application fees when submitting. For Social Equity Applicants, you will have discounted or waived fees. The fees, unfortunately, are not yet published. But our Virginia cannabis license experts will update this section once fees are published.
Once again, the exact details of the application process are not finalized at this time. The information you read above is base on our experience in cannabis consulting across 27 US States and 6 Countries.
Now that you have a general idea of the application process, let’s start diving into some details on how to receive priority status on your application.
Social Equity License Applicants
Have you heard of social equity status for cannabis businesses?
Social Equity in the cannabis industry has become common in new cannabis markets. It’s essentially a provision created to give back to communities and individuals who have been negatively impacted by the prohibition of cannabis.
Why is this important for you?
You can significantly increase your odds of winning a license if you qualify for social equity status. For example, as a social equity applicant in Virginia, you will :
- receive preference in the licensing process;
- have a percentage of your application and licensing fees waived; and
- the option to obtain a low-interest business loan from the State.
So, how do you qualify as a Social Equity Applicant in Virginia?
You must have lived in Virginia for at least 12 months and either are an applicant with at least 66 percent ownership by a person or persons who:
- have been convicted of or adjudicated delinquent for any marijuana offenses that are eligible for expungement pursuant to § 19.2-392.2 or 19.2-392.2:1;
- is the parent, child, sibling, or spouse of a person who has been convicted of or adjudicated delinquent for any marijuana offenses that are eligible for expungement under § 19.2-392.2 or 19.2-392.2:1;
- have resided for at least three of the past five years in a jurisdiction that is determined by the Board after utilizing census tract data made available by the United States Census Bureau to have been disproportionately policed for marijuana crimes; or
- have resided for at least three of the last five years in a jurisdiction determined by the Board after utilizing census tract data made available by the United States Census Bureau to be economically distressed; or
- attended a historically black college or university located in the Commonwealth.
Unfortunately, the Board has not indicated which census tracks qualify as disproportionately impacted areas. Once this information is published, our cannabis business consultants in Virginia will update this section.
Do you think you qualify for social equity status in Virginia?
If so, you have a significantly greater chance of winning a Virginia adult-use cannabis license. If you’re still not sure, reach out today to speak with someone on our Virginia Cannabis Consulting team.
Step-by-Step Guide on How to Win a Cannabis License in Virginia
You, at this point, have a high-level understanding of the Virginia adult-use cannabis license application. Now, you can begin getting positioning yourself to win a Virginia marijuana license by following this step-by-step guide that our Virginia cannabis consulting firm put together.
Step 1. Read the bill
To begin, we recommend getting familiar with the bill (HB2312), especially the regulations surrounding the cannabis license type that you intend to apply for.
For instance, you will get a better idea of what you can and can’t do with a particular license. Are you interested in running a retail shop or cultivating cannabis?
Also, you’ll want to know if you qualify for the type of license you’re interested in applying for.
Get familiar with the regulation governing Virginia cannabis licenses, and the application process becomes twice as easy.
We understand how difficult it can be to digest the bill, especially with all the complex and dry lawyer language. If you want a distilled version and consultation on Virginia cannabis market regulations and how to best approach winning a cannabis license, we encourage you to reach out today and have a conversation with our Virginia cannabis consulting team.
Step 2. Choose a license type
Once you’ve read the bill, you should have a better understanding of the type of marijuana license you want to apply for and if you qualify.
You should, at this point, decide on the cannabis license(s) that you want to apply for. By choosing a specific cannabis license, you will have a clear direction and can start taking action specifically to that type of license.
Choosing a cannabis license can often be difficult. You may not be clear as to what each cannabis business license allows you to do, let alone if you qualify. Thus, at this point, we recommend engaging a cannabis business consultant to help you understand the pros and cons of each cannabis license type.
Step 3. Engage a Virginia Cannabis Consultant
Why should you engage a cannabis consulting firm to help with your Virginia marijuana license application? Well, a marijuana consultant in Virginia will serve as your coach and guiding light throughout the entire application process, including raising capital from investors. Put simply, a Virginia cannabis consultant will make your life easier by taking on the burden of the work involved in applying for a cannabis license.
For instance, our cannabis consultants in Virginia will help you develop a strategy to win a license. Moreover, we’ll execute all of the technical writing, help you garner local support, build a team, and more.
Once you engage our Virginia cannabis consulting services (or if you decide to risk it by going at it alone), the next step is to begin building a team.
Step 4. Form a Business Entity
Before you proceed further, it’s a good idea for you to form a business entity. You will use the business entity as the applicant for your cannabis license application. But more so, you’ll need a business entity to form a bank account and begin executing contracts.
You have a few options to choose from when forming a business entity. For example, you can choose from the following business entity types for your cannabis business:
- Sole Proprietor
- Limited Partnership
- Limited Liability Company (LLC)
- C-Corporation (C-Corp)
- S-Corporation (S-Corp)
You can refer to this article on How to Choose the Best Legal Structure for Your Business for more information.
In our experience. must applicants will apply as an LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp. However, you should speak with an attorney for guidance on choosing the right business entity for your cannabis business license application in Virginia.
With your business entity formed, you can now start recruiting your team and raising capital.
Step 5. Build a Team
One major criterion that your cannabis license application is graded on is the team you apply with. Put differently, your cannabis license application will get scored on your team’s experience, especially experience in the cannabis industry or a related field.
If you’re going for a cannabis cultivation license in Virginia, you’ll want to include someone on your team with cannabis cultivation, agriculture, or horticulture experience, for instance.
Similarly, if you’re applying for a cannabis retail license in Virginia, your team should include individuals with retail and seed-to-sale tracking experience. A security agent, for example, is important for all types of marijuana licenses. In addition to your team, it can benefit you to recruit a team of advisors as well.
Equally, if not more important, is to build a team that allows you to qualify as a social equity applicant. Reach out to your network and propose your project to promising partners who can assist in the license application process for obtaining Social Equity Status. In short, the state will give preference to applicants who qualify as a Social Equity Applicant (see section above or click the link for more info on social equity applicants).
As mentioned above, our Virginia cannabis consulting firm can help you recruit a team of industry-leading cannabis professionals for your application.
Step 6. Develop Business Plan
At this point, you’ll want to develop a business plan for your cannabis business. It does not have to be perfect or the most polished cannabis business plan, but it must have realistic assumptions and credible data. You’ll want to keep it simple and have supporting evidence for your projections.
You can use this business plan to attract investors (if you seek outside investment) as well as in your cannabis license application. For instance, the projected cash flow model you build for the business plan can also be used in the Virginia Cannabis License Application process. Building a cannabis business plan will also help you thoroughly think through the process of starting a cannabis business.
Your cannabis business plan should include:
- an overview of your plans to apply for the license;
- a description of the proposed operation;
- projected financial statements;
- estimated return on investment;
- description of your team;
- branding; and
If you don’t have the time or ability to create a cannabis business plan, including a detailed cannabis business financial model, our Virginia Cannabis License Consulting team can help you put together an elegant business plan. Schedule a call today to learn how our cannabis consultants in Virginia can help you.
Step 7. Raise Capital
Once you’ve developed your business plan, you can present it to investors to raise capital. By handing your investors a business plan, it will significantly increase their confidence in you and your venture. As a result, you will have the ability to raise capital more effectively.
Are you familiar with the costs of starting a cannabis business? For instance, the start-up costs for a cannabis retailer generally range from $850,000 to $1,900,000. On the other hand, the start-up costs for a cannabis cultivator generally range from $3,000,000 to up to $17,000,000 and sometimes more.
Our marijuana consulting team can help you pitch your business plan to potential investors. We have raised millions of dollars to fund dozens of cannabis start-ups across the globe. Thus, reach out today to learn how our Virginia cannabis license consultants can help you raise capital to fund your cannabis start-up
Step 8. Choose the location(s)
With capital in hand, you can now start to identify and secure locations that you will want to operate your cannabis business out of. Your location can be an existing building or an empty plot of land.
In either case, you’ll want to ensure two things:
- the location is appropriately zoned and complies with local ordinances; and
- the current owner is willing to sell or lease the property to you.
However, you will want to wait until the final instructions for license applications are released before you sign any contracts to acquire or lease any property. Why you may ask? Well, in some States, you are not required to identify or secure a location until after you’ve been awarded a license.
Thus, you will not want to start incurring any costs until you are aware of the application instructions. But you can begin strategizing around locations that you would like to operate at. It’s never too early for you to start researching the location and building a relationship with the local governing body and organizations.
Step 9. Garner local support
In addition to getting approval from the State to operate a cannabis business, you will also have to get approval from the municipality. Beyond just approval from the municipality’s city planning department, you will also want to start identifying and building ties with community organizations that you would like to have a positive impact on.
During the application, you should identify these organizations, outline your proposed benefits, and show proof of the local community supporting your cannabis business.
Your plan for positively impacting your community will help receive a higher score on your application. Now is the time to start building your relationship with the local government and community organizations.
Our Virginia cannabis consulting team has assisted entrepreneurs with gaining support from many local governments, schools, community organizations, and more. We can help you obtain a letter of support from the most significant organizations in your community.
Step 10. Write a Cannabis Application
At this point, you’ve familiarized yourself with the law, developed a cannabis business plan, raised capital, and have a location picked out. Now it’s time for the cannabis business license application process.
Most importantly, you will now have to sit down to write the Virginia cannabis license application. Cannabis License Applications can require hundreds or thousands of pages of technical writing. The State wants you to describe your plans for operating your cannabis business in a safe, responsible, and compliant manner.
Sounds like a lot? Our cannabis consulting firm in Virginia has worked on over 84 applications with a success rate of 90.12%.
Putting together a cannabis license application in Virginia is like a full-time job. If you don’t have time, then it may be difficult to compete against applicants with full-time teams writing their cannabis license applications.
To improve your chances of winning a cannabis license, the best option is to speak with our cannabis consulting firm to learn how we can help you write a Virginia cannabis license application that will win you a license.
If you follow the ten steps outlined above, you are well on your way to starting a cannabis business in Virginia. You can begin taking action now to improve your chances of winning a license. Start by contacting our Virginia cannabis consulting firm to get a head start.
Now let’s discuss other matters that are important for you, the future cannabis business owner. We will cover ownership limitations, rules for selling your license, and how municipalities can regulate cannabis in their jurisdiction.
Yes, there are limitations on the number of Virginia cannabis licenses that you can have ownership in or serve in a management position for.
For instance, you can only have ownership in or serve in a management position in up to five licenses for one type of cannabis license.
Put differently, you can only have interest in one type of cannabis license in Virginia, but you can have interest in up to five in that same license category (e.g. retail, cultivation, etc.).
Selling or Transferring License Ownership
Unfortunately, you cannot transfer or sell a Virginia cannabis business license. Similarly, you cannot transfer your cannabis license from one location to another.
Our Virginia Cannabis License Consulting team would like to emphasize that you will have to reapply for a cannabis license to move to another location.
Municipal Regulation of Cannabis
In addition to the State laws and regulations, municipalities can also have their own set of rules and regulations (known as ordinances).
However, in Virginia, no municipality can “adopt any ordinance or resolution that regulates or prohibits the cultivation, manufacture, possession, sale, wholesale distribution, handling, transportation, consumption, use, advertising, or dispensing of retail marijuana or retail marijuana products in the Commonwealth” (§ 4.1-629).
But municipalities can:
- “regulate or prohibit the possession of opened retail marijuana or retail marijuana products containers in its local public parks, playgrounds, public streets, and any sidewalk adjoining any public street.”; and
- regulate hours that a cannabis retailer can operate.
Thus, when choosing a location for your Virginia cannabis business, make sure you read the ordinances of the municipality you are considering. You will want to make sure that the location you are choosing is appropriately zoned. If it is not, you can work with city planning to get it zoned appropriately.
Does this make sense to you? The difference between State and Municipal regulations is confusing. Therefore, feel free to reach out to our marijuana consultants in Virginia to make sure you’re choosing the right municipality.
Closing Remarks from our Cannabis Consultants in Virginia
While the process described above may seem brief, it includes countless steps that you will need to manage along the path of writing a Virginia cannabis application. The market is scheduled to begin in just a few years. By preparing now, you will have a greater chance of winning a cannabis license in Virginia.
To speak with our Virginia Cannabis License Application Writers about our consulting services, please visit our main website and leave your information in our contact form. Our team of Virginia cannabis consultants will help you seamlessly navigate the application process to success. Save time and money by allowing the professionals to write your marijuana license application for you.
Are you an entrepreneur or investor interested in starting a cannabis business in Virginia? If so, our related Virginia Cannabis articles will provide you with additional information you can use to win a license and start a cannabis business.