How to Open a Dispensary (Part 2)

I’m writing today about how to open a dispensary, which I accomplished in 2019, in California. 

I was one of a handful of people who got through my City’s process for a conditional use permit in San Diego, and now I teach a course with my business partner, Sarah on how to do it.

One of the hardest things to do when you want to open a dispensary, is to convince the landlord to lease you the building. We go into more depth in our course with more tips and techniques you can use. But keep reading….

I started telling you how my process for talking to the landlord began, and how he hung up on me the very first time I called him.

Luckily, I had researched him a little beforehand, and I had expected him to be extremely conservative, and therefore not open to cannabis. So I guess, in a way, I had expected rejection. But what is key is that I didn’t him hanging up on me as not being able to rent his building, I saw it more as the start of a relationship. I mean, it’s the beginning of a negotiation, right? 

How to Open a Marijuana Dispensary

So, here are a few more pointers:

  • In any conversation with the landlord, do not make any promises you cannot keep.
  • If the landlord asks you a question that you do not know the answer to, explain that you do not know that answer, but that you’ll get it, and would like to get back to them with it.
  • Try to determine if you called a cell phone. Whether your call goes well or badly, it’s nice to be able to send a quick thank you via text. Sign your name so that the landlord knows who you are. 
  • Try to look at the first outreach attempt as if it’s the beginning of a series of attempts. As Sarah has learned in this industry, “no” does not necessarily mean no. It sometimes means, not today. 

All of these tips are a little bit of common sense, or if you’ve ever tried to sell somebody something, or persuade them to see things your way, what you’re really doing in that first outreach is simply trying to build rapport. You are simply building the beginning of a relationship. 

So a few more tips about reaching out:

  • Be as polite as possible.
  • Use proper grammar, and don’t use slang. Sure, we might say “weed” but your landlord probably doesn't, so use his language. His language is likely “cannabis”. So speak in terms he can understand and appreciate.
  • Write out what you want to say and keep it handy.
  • At some point, and not necessarily in the first call, if you have experience in the weed business, it’s helpful, and in fact, it’s fine to say you do, just don’t make a big deal out of it in case it wasn’t exactly legal weed experience. We know a lot of people who’ve been dealing out of their homes, cars, etc. for years, and are now trying to get legal, so allude to it, but don’t explicitly say you’ve been in it illegally. 

In my opinion, landlords are generally very savvy, and it only takes one bad tenant experience for them to tell you they are never going to rent to you. 

In my case, they had never had a bad experience with a tenant, but they were wary of cannabis, and so helping them understand the industry, the risks, who you are, your success track record, your background, your experience, etc. are all key to helping them sign a lease with you.

They were also wary of it ‘bringing the wrong types into the neighborhood’ or ‘pissing off the other tenants or neighboring businesses and landlords’ so consider what you might say to overcome these types of objections. You have a bit of a sales job to do, so now is the time to start role-playing with your partner, your friends, and practice. 

Practice makes perfect. 

Again, this aspect of opening a dispensary is one of the harder parts of the process. So definitely sign up for our course if you are serious about trying to open your own dispensary. 


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