What do I need to start a dispensary in the US Virgin Islands?
The medical marijuana industry is an extremely competitive industry. This is not Field of Dreams, simply opening your dispensary doors is not going to be your road to riches. Marketing, brand loyalty, sheer luck, and mixture of 30 other variables will make or break you in the Cannabis industry.
Starting any business in the US Virgin Islands is challenging. Starting a new dispensary throws some extra hurdles into the mix. Licensing Fees, start-up costs, location, security, WAPA and more all need to be considered before opening a dispensary. The Office of Cannabis Regulations (OCR), a sub-division of the DLCA, is the new agency that will be issuing licenses.
You must be 21 years old to apply or be invested in any cannabis business in the US Virgin Islands.
The Medical Cannabis Patient Care Act (MCPCA) states that you must be a resident of the Virgin Islands for 2 years before applying for a Marijuana Dispensary License.
Capital & Investments
Local loans are not going to be available. Until the federal government declassifies THC as a Schedule I drug, banking is going to be impossible. In Recreational States, options are available. But with USVI banking laws, and residency requirements for cannabis businesses, they will not be able to easily operate within the territory.
If you are an investor, residency rules do not apply, but you can only own less than 50% of the business. The majority stakeholders must meet the residency requirements.
Thinking about security of your business, employees and patients should in the forefront of most of your decisions. How will you run an all cash business? What steps do you need to take to secure your location and property?
Loss management and security will need to be included in your license application to the OCR.
The MCPCA states that a dispensary must be 500 feet from any public or private school in the territory.
Just like starting any business, location-location-location. Choosing the right spot for your dispensary can make or break your business, before you even open the doors. You can have the best business plan, huge amount of capital, the biggest celebrity in the VI, but if no one can find your dispensary, you are going to be working from a disadvantage. Convenience is king.
What location you choose defines what market you will be trying to capture. Do you want to serve resident or non-resident card holders? Are you planning on capturing the tourist market if the VI goes recreational?
Will you be able to properly secure this location? What natural security measures exist within the property? Does it have only one entrance and exit? Is it a convenient location, is there ample parking?
Licensing & Application
The fee to start your dispensary in the US Virgin Islands is $5,000. With an annual renewal rate of the same price.
Your application must be perfect with all the required documents and stipulations set by the MCPCA and the OCR. Applications that are denied will only be reimbursed $2,500 of their $5,000 application fee. Seek a professional before submitting your application!
To successfully apply for your dispensary license you will need:
- Legal Name of the Dispensary
- Physical address of the prospective Dispensary
- Names, birth dates, proof of residency for all owners and investors of the Dispensary
- Business Plan, including plans for security, record keeping and product diversion mitigation
The OCR will require more information when they start processing applications.
A large amount of dispensary technology options exist in today’s market place. While your chalk-board menu might be cute. You are going to need some serious tech to keep your inventory in check.
OCR will require detailed reporting on your inventory, where it goes, and where it came from. Failing to comply will result in your license being revoked.
This inventory technology will open up new areas of advertising and promotion. Websites with your up to date Weed Menu, prices, and inventory. Secure online ordering with pickup or delivery. Technology in the dispensary business will change the way others do business in the Virgin Islands.
While WAPA and it’s outrageous price for power is a major concern for growers, it’s still an important aspect to think about for any Virgin Islands business.
Climate control will be essential where marijuana is stored. Loss of product due to high humidity or unfavorable conditions is an unacceptable loss.
Marketing and advertising you new dispensary will be a big boost to your business. Word of mouth is not going to cut it. You will need to edge out your competitors in every way.