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From License to Launch: 5 Critical Success Factors for Adult-Use Dispensaries

Launching Your New York Cannabis Dispensary, the Right way

Have you secured an Adult-Use Dispensary license in New York, but unsure of your next move? This is one of the most common issues that aspiring cannabis dispensary owners run into after securing their long-awaited license. Whether you recently got a license, are planning to apply, or waiting in the queue, it’s never too early to start preparing for opening day.

The OCM has awarded hundreds of adult-use dispensary licenses, but there are only 78 open and operating adult-use dispensaries as of mid-March 2024. It’s no doubt that figuring out where to begin is often one of the biggest hurdles that hold dispensaries back. 

This guide breaks down the five keys you’ll need to open your dispensary doors and get customers buying!

1: Building Out a Compliant Dispensary

Once you’ve secured your license, you’ll need to start building out your dispensary. Before you begin making physical changes to your building, you’ll want to develop a security plan that aligns with the OCM’s regulations. Spend time reading and understanding all of the security requirements, and plan accordingly. You’ll need to install compliant video surveillance cameras, alarm systems, appropriate perimeter lighting, compliant door locks, and more.

By now, you should also be finalizing your site operational plans in case the OCM asks to view them before you open your dispensary. Building out a compliant location will be a deciding factor in whether you’ll be able to have a successful dispensary launch, and pass your OCM inspections. If you’re worried about passing your inspection, reach out to CannDelta.

2: Developing Your Product Portfolio

Once you have your license and are preparing to open your dispensary, you’ll want to begin developing your product portfolio. In other words, you’ll need to figure out which cannabis products you plan to sell at your store. Your product selection should be based on market research. Having a solid foundation of product offerings will help get the ball rolling with initial sales. 

Your product portfolio will need to be dynamic, evolving in response to emerging trends, new products, and fresh brands entering the market. Dedicate time to contemplate which products to feature and which ones may benefit from increased marketing efforts. Once you’ve made these decisions, you’ll need to contact vendors and order products.

Invest significant effort in curating and refining your product portfolio, aligning it with consumer demand and popularity. Ensure that your portfolio consists exclusively of items from licensed processors and adheres to the OCM’s standards for packaging and labeling. You should also have a POS system ready to go. This system should be able to track your inventory, report to the OCM. For further details on packaging, be sure to visit our New York retail webpage!

3: Hiring & Recruitment

Whether or not you’ve been awarded an adult-use dispensary license, it’s a good idea to consider staffing and onboarding plans that coincide with your operational plans and sales goals. Regardless of how big or small your dispensary will be, you’ll need multiple employees with specific cannabis training to manage your dispensary operations efficiently. All personnel interacting with cannabis products and clientele are required to be at least 21 years old and must receive training in compliance with OCM guidelines. The OCM has not yet initiated regulated budtender training programs, but it’s crucial to ensure your team receives cannabis training so that they are well-versed in product knowledge, cannabis science, and regulatory standards. This is an important component to maintaining compliance and fostering valuable customer interactions that will drive sales.

You’ll also need to make sure that any employees overseeing your dispensary are reported to the OCM. If you’re aiming to open additional dispensaries in the future, you’ll need to hire enough staff to ensure each store is managed effectively.

 Finding the right team can be challenging, but partnering with a cannabis recruiter can provide a strategic advantage. For assistance in securing the right talent for your dispensary, consider exploring services from our partner, CanMar, or reaching out to CannDelta today for professional advice and cannabis recruiter guidance.

4: Establishing Your Brand & Implementing Marketing Strategies

Carving out a unique brand identity is crucial to your business’s success and longevity. Building a strategy to distinguish yourself from competing dispensaries will develop a dedicated customer base. This is an impactful way to be noticed in your community, pinpoint your ideal customers, understand the dynamics of your location and community, the strategies employed by other successful competitors, and much more.

Consider all these factors and implement every piece of relevant information into a marketing plan that resonates with your objectives and audience. This will lead you to develop targeted advertising initiatives, launch social media accounts, and create compelling marketing materials like an SEO-optimized dispensary website. Serious considerations about initial branding and marketing strategies will allow you to establish a presence in the industry early on. However, marketing is a continuous effort that demands constant attention—it should never be an afterthought. 

Continuously staying up to date on marketing trends, social media activity, dispensary website development, community engagement efforts, and everything else that will keep your dispensary in the minds of consumers will result in long-term success of your business. Learn more about impactful marketing by exploring the marketing services offered by CannDelta.

5: Hold a Press Conference

When you’re finally ready to set an opening date, you’ll want to maximize positive exposure. The OCM provides an excellent resource on how new dispensaries can conduct a press conference. This is a very effective way to debut your dispensary to the local community and New York’s cannabis industry while attracting local newspapers, online media, and television networks. A press conference positions you as a credible, legal cannabis business that the local community will be keen to interact with.

To arrange a press conference at your dispensary, ensure your venue is well-prepared and pick a date that avoids clashing with other significant events. Preparing your venue will involve setting up your verification decal in your dispensary’s front window, a podium (preferably branded), a speaker system, microphone, and ample seating for all of your guests. To generate the most excitement possible, schedule the day so that your store opens as soon as the conference comes to a close. 

Completing an open dispensary form is also a pivotal step in your dispensary’s launch. Doing so  will notify over 50,000 New Yorkers about your dispensary’s launch through email. You’ll also want to put together a press kit for the local media you plan to invite, draft a press release for distribution after the event, and be ready for any interviews. This will drive initial sales and give you an opportunity to find your place in the local community.


Here’s a quick venue preparation checklist for before you hold your press conference:

  1. Verification Decal displayed at front window
  2. Press kits ready and available
  3. Podium
  4. Branded backdrop
  5. Speaker system
  6. Microphone
  7. Seating
  8. Designated employee providing live social media updates

BONUS: Consistency is Key

Your dispensary is open, and you’re beginning to attract attention in your community. While this is promising, how can you guarantee that customers will remain loyal? The key is maintaining consistency. Keeping up to date with regulations, providing thorough employee training, regularly updating your product lineup, and maintaining effective marketing strategies are all vital for ensuring steady sales. With new dispensaries popping up throughout New York, it’s essential to actively engage with your community both offline and online. Reach out to CannDelta today for a specialized cannabis business plan, and marketing solutions that will elevate your business past all your competitors.

How we can Help!

Our post-license services are designed to bring your brand to the top and supporting your businesses expansion. CannDelta offers specialized cannabis business planning and marketing solutions that will elevate your dispensary business past all of your competitors. Learn more by filling out a form below!

Frequently Asked Questions

Starting a weed brand does not require a New York Dispensary license application. Starting a cannabis brand will require a Type 1, Type 2, or Type 3 processor license. If you’re interested only in starting a brand, the type 3 processor license is a low-barrier entry point for those new to the cannabis industry or already existing businesses.

Becoming a professional in New York’s cannabis industry will depend on the type of work you are interested in doing. For example, if you want to open a dispensary, you will need to submit a New York Dispensary license application, create a cannabis business plan, and consider other things like marketing and location. Post-secondary education programs are becoming more popular to accommodate the  growing demand for cannabis industry professionals in the cultivation, manufacturing and processing fields.

Starting an adult-use cannabis retail dispensary will require an adult-use dispensary license. This will require that a New York dispensary license application be submitted and approved by the OCM. Having a successful application submission will require a series of detailed documents, a compliant location, and more.