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How to Start a Marijuana Food and Beverage Business

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Now that marijuana is legal throughout Canada and parts of the United States, this is the perfect time to introduce something new to the market. Do you have an idea but don’t know where to start?

Let’s say you want to sell cannabis infused blueberry jam, you could go ahead and start telling people on social media “I’m selling cannabis infused jam” or you could sell it like this “wild cannabis infused blueberry jam from the pristine meadows of the east coast. Prepared with my grandmother’s traditional recipe, Available in 350 ml glass jars, and only available by special order.”

The idea is to come up with a description for your product that arouses curiosity.

What I am trying to tell you is, before you do anything, explore the vast reaches of your brain, find an idea and define a product. Once it’s fully defined in your head, you will have a clear vision of the type of business you want to create.

The worst thing you can do is spend all your life’s savings on a half baked idea.  I know. You are excited to start your own business, but don’t skip the planning or quit your day job before you start making real profits.

Marijuana Food and Beverage Ideas

To some people, the only thing you can do with marijuana is roll a joint and smoke, they don’t realize that if you extract cannabis oil. You can use it to cook anything, let’s take crisps for example, instead of deep frying sliced potatoes in normal oil; why not deep fry them in cannabis oil?

See the thing is, not all of us enjoy smoking. Think about it, smoking is bad for your health and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. On the other hand, edibles taste good and you don’t have to worry about carcinogens.

The point is, think beyond brownies. Think cannabis infused tacos, sodas, smoothies, sweets, cakes, gummies etc.

But, but, cannabis oil/cannabutter tastes like poop

The smell and flavor of cannabis is determined by terpenes, terpenes are aromatic organic compounds found in plants that enhance your high and hold numerous medical benefits. For example, limonene is a terpene found in lemons and some strains of weed. That means that, when buying or growing weed you intend to use to cook, you should pick the strain wisely. Alternatively you can use ingredients that have strong taste and flavor to mask the smell and taste of cannabis oil.

Another option is to filter your oil, place it through the filtration process to remove chlorophyll and excess plant material, doing that will improve the taste and smell.

 Business Planning and Market Research

Is there a market for your product?  What if you spend all your money on an idea and no one buys your product or what if you start a business and the government shuts you down?

See the thing is. Marijuana is illegal on the federal level. That means that, the government can shut you down at any time. Also if you violate the law, for example, if you sell cannabis infused jam to a teenager, you may be thrown behind bars.

That’s why it’s very important to understand marijuana laws and plan your business within these laws.

What type of Food and Beverage Business do you Intend to Start?

potato coins

Before you register your business you must decide on a business structure. In most places there are five main business structures namely sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, limited liability partnership and limited liability limited partnership. Take some time to understand how these structures work and find one that suits you and your business.

Right now, it is very difficult to find financing and insurance for your marijuana business. Because of that, you may have to handle all the costs out of pocket. The thing is. Most financial institutions avoid doing business with people who deal with marijuana products because they are worried about federal authorities.

Don’t assume that you will get a loan to start your business, start saving for it now.

Retail Food Business or Wholesale?

If you decide to sell your product directly to consumers your business is classified as a retail food business. On the other hand, wholesale food business is one which sells food products indirectly to customers.

State laws are different, the best advice I can give you here is to talk to a lawyer in your area and find out what works.

Test your Product

Testing your product is not just about finding out if there is a market for it, you should also find out if it’s safe for human consumption.

On the FDA website you will find all the regulatory requirements needed to start a food and beverage business. Generally, as an owner, operator or an agent you are required to evaluate hazards that could affect food manufactured, processed, packed, or held by your facility, provide assurances that food is not adulterated and maintain records.

Do people like your product?

For your product to sell people must like it, also the way you introduce your product to the market matters. Your family and friends may sugar coat feedback to make you feel good even if your jam tastes like turd. The best option you have is to seek feedback from strangers i.e. find people who don’t owe you anything.

Hand out free samples or find willing participants on social media.

Testing multiple products at the same time can be frustrating; on the other hand, if you focus one product, you will perfect that recipe. Think about it, most successful businesses only sell one product. So don’t complicate things, find a product that works and stick with it.

Note that not everyone will like your product, so prepare yourself and take negative feedback like a ‘man’. Instead of letting negative feedback weigh you down, use it to improve the product.

Another thing you should do is create a pitch, give people a reason to want to buy your product. For example, tell them it’s good for their health or it improves a particular body function. This will arouse curiosity and they will want to try it.

Never forget, the customer is king, therefore make what they want. Not what you want.

If it all works out, register your product, find people willing to sell it and introduce it to the market. Of course there is the illegal option, wink!

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