As more US states legalize cannabis, its growth, and sale, the cannabis industry and economy will grow. While this has opened new avenues of entrepreneurship for growers, labs, and retailers, it’s tricky to make a profit, much less to stay in business. Here are four facts about the cannabis business and why you should think carefully about investing in it or starting your own store, farm, or distribution network.

It’s Expensive To Get Started

Starting a business in the cannabis industry requires plenty of capital. Building a dispensary or farm also requires time and money to pay for equipment, property, employees, and overhead costs. You must also get licensing from your state, as well as pay various fees and taxes. On average, costs for opening a dispensary can run from about $400,000 to a cool million, or more! Crunch the numbers to be sure you can afford a startup before you get too far into the process. As a side note, not every bank will do business with a cannabis company in order to avoid legal issues.

It’s Not Legal Everywhere

While your state may have legalized the growth, sale, and use of cannabis, it might still be illegal in the next state over. What’s more, the federal government still has legislation on the books declaring it illegal. US states aren’t required to enforce federal laws, and for the time being, the federal government doesn’t enforce federal cannabis laws at the state level. Still, facilities that receive federal funding can’t sell or prescribe cannabis, and a dispensary in one state can’t sell or mail products across state borders. Even the best lawyer may have trouble advising you on the best course of action.

Taking Care of Waste

The cannabis industry produces waste, but unlike other types, cannabis waste requires special disposal methods. Any product or byproduct of cannabis—the materials you used to grow it, trimmings, soil, seeds, roots, oils and extracts, grinders, and even vape pens must be unusable before disposal. This means subjecting them to crushing, incineration, and composting, as well as removing labels or other marks.

What About Washington, DC?

How does all this affect residents in Washington, DC? While recreational cannabis use and possession by adults over 21 years of age was legalized in the DC area in 2015, selling cannabis in the district remains illegal, as does using it in certain ways. It is illegal to possess more than two ounces of cannabis or to use it in public. Here’s a fun fact about the cannabis business: Some merchants have skirted or avoided the no-selling rule by selling tokens or other items and providing the purchaser with a “gift” of cannabis. This has sparked a huge gift economy in DC. 

Some Washington, DC Locations

  • New Leaf Smoke Shop i71 Cannabis Dispensary in DC: Cannabis store located at 416 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002, USA. It has a 4.6 star rating on Google Maps with user reviews. Opening hours today are 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM.
  • Giving Tree DC: Cannabis store located at 1236 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002, USA. It has a 5 star rating on Google Maps with user reviews. Opening hours today are 12:00 PM – 9:30 PM.
  • Elevate Weed: Cannabis store located at 1314 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002, USA. It has a 5 star rating on Google Maps with user reviews. Opening hours today are 8:00 AM – 9:00 PM.
  • Farmerz DC Cannabis Store: Cannabis store located at 521 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002, USA. It has a 3.8 star rating on Google Maps with user reviews. Opening hours today are 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM.
  • SLS Weed Dispensary DC: Cannabis store located at 409 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002, USA. It has a 5 star rating on Google Maps with user reviews. Opening hours today are 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM.
  • Top Level: Cannabis store, Art dealer, Clothing store, Gift shop located at 3715 Macomb St NW Suite 201, Washington, DC 20016, USA. It has a 4.9 star rating on Google Maps with user reviews. Opening hours today are 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM.
  • Best Stop: Weed Dispensary | Marijuana in DC: Cannabis store, Alternative medicine practitioner, Delivery service, Flower delivery, Home health care service, Medical supply store, Store, Tobacco shop located at 5417 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20011, USA. It has a 5 star rating on Google Maps with user reviews. Opening hours today are 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM.
  • Takoma Wellness Center: Cannabis store located at 6925 Blair Rd NW, Washington, DC 20012, USA. It has a 4.9 star rating on Google Maps with user reviews. Opening hours today are 10:30 AM – 7:00 PM.
What the future holds is unknown, but the law is always subject to change.