Can I Have A Dispensary If I’m a Convicted Felon?
If you have a criminal record, you may be wondering if you’re still eligible to open a dispensary?
While having a felony conviction does limit your options, felons who were convicted of a cannabis-related crime are still allowed to obtain licenses to open dispensaries. In most states, they even have first priority.
Businesses that Sell Controlled Substances
Dispensaries are regulated by the State, and most states have laws that prohibit convicted felons from owning or operating businesses that sell controlled substances like cannabis or alcohol.
According to the New York Liquor Authority, “Individuals with a felony conviction in New York State or another state or federal jurisdiction are not eligible to hold a license, unless they have a Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities, have received a pardon or have been issued a Certificate of Good Conduct.”
Those convicted of nonviolent felonies such as cannabis cultivation, possession or transportation, as well as other related misdemeanors, typically have better chances than those with other types of convictions such as assault or robbery.
While not always the case, a felony record may be indicative of a history of disregarding state laws, which could potentially result in consumers being exposed to unsafe practices.
Laws preventing convicted felons from owning and operating these establishments is a measure taken by the state to ensure that only qualified and law-abiding individuals are running these businesses.
Through stringent policies like this, states can work together with dispensaries to foster a safe and secure cannabis market for all customers.
Exceptions to the Rule
In states like California, Washington, and New York, there are exceptions to the rules in state propositions which allow people with certain nonviolent convictions to apply for a cannabis license.
Like many states, California’s Proposition 64, has allowed for a social equity program to be implemented, which can provide equitable ownership for those who were impacted by the War on Drugs.
Social equity programs go further in giving these individuals the chance to positively rebuild their lives post-conviction, proving themselves to be equally responsible as their counterparts.
In New York state, the Cannabis Adult Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) program is for social equity applicants. The goal is to help communities that have been disproportionately affected by the enforcement of cannabis laws to participate in the legal industry, and to benefit from the economic opportunities it provides.
The program is part of the state’s efforts to promote social equity and to ensure that the benefits of the legal cannabis industry are shared by all communities.
By granting these individuals a first-priority license to operate a cannabis business, it gives them the opportunity to get ahead of their past, create their own company and grow the cannabis industry.
Check your State Laws
If you’re interested in opening a dispensary, your best bet is always to check with your state’s laws to see if you’re eligible.
Starting a dispensary can be a daunting task, with complex regulations and plenty of potential pitfalls to most inexperienced entrepreneurs. But if you’re up for the challenge, it’s worth taking the time to check the laws in your state or local jurisdiction to see if it is even possible to open a dispensary in the first place.
The regulations vary drastically from state-to-state and even city-to-city. Doing research now could save you from making costly mistakes later on down the road.
Running a Dispensary is Challenging
For those who are eligible, remember that running a dispensary is a lot of work – so make sure you’re up for the challenge before taking the plunge!
Starting and running a dispensary isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes considerable team effort, capital, and resources to maintain operations.
Before you consider taking on this challenge, make sure you’re prepared with the proper team, and that they are up to par with the necessary skill sets. You will also need to have a reliable lawyer and accountant on board. There will also be overhead costs associated with training bud-tenders, handling payroll, rent payments, taxes and other expenses that come with running a business.
If you want your dispensary to truly succeed in the community, you’ll have to provide more than just products – think about ways your team and store can help give back locally. All these things should be taken into account before plunging into the business of owning a dispensary.
Ultimately, if you have considered the highs and lows of running a cannabis shop, and still feel passionate about the process, it is important to do your digging.
Research your state’s laws thoroughly, and determine whether or not you are eligible.
While every state has different legislation when it comes to this sort of thing, don’t hesitate to ask around, or even seek out a current dispensary owner for their input.
At the end of it all, owning a dispensary is an amazing opportunity and a privilege. It’s understandable why the state government does not hand out licenses freely, and why they would require extensive background checks first.
Should you decide to embark upon this journey, remember that nothing good ever came easy!
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