Navigating the Application Process in the Medical Cannabis Industry - Part 1

“Start with the end in mind”

This post is Part 1 in the series titled Navigating the Application Process in the Medical Cannabis Industry, where Mora Mota Group looks to share some keys to success as a Small Business Startup looks to emerge within this industry.

Before you can plant a single seed, or get the chance to make your first sale, potential licensees should first identify their role within a State's Medical Cannabis program, and then develop a plan on how to adapt in a maturing market.


State Legislators have assembled across the United States to begin to tackle the daunting task of promulgating rules for a previously illegal substance, Cannabis, in order to create a properly regulated legal industry from scratch. As the stigma associated with adult-use and medical cannabis continues to crumble and the U.S. moves forward toward ending Cannabis Prohibition, the burden is in the hands of a group of individuals required to draft laws (with their constituents in mind) in a constantly evolving industry.

As these lawmakers consider those established frameworks in other medically legal States or Countries, they’re challenged with wading through the specific issues within these jurisdictions. There is considerable data that is constantly growing from these legalized markets, in which the public and legislators can begin to learn which regulations will help or hurt these businesses, so they may dodge similar mistakes in the past.

Nearly every State has implemented their own unique, specific application requirements, and one of the biggest issues with this process are the various barriers to entry involved. For example, one State may have a minimum residency requirements, while another will require that their employees take industry-specific training courses. Or in one State, which requires certain financial minimums to be met, the applicants must have a significant liquid capital account with a financial institution.

In States drafting brand new legislation, many are creating a merit-based application process where the “fittest” applications will rise to the top to ultimately win over the regulators. This may leave some small business owners wondering whether it’s worth navigating through this arduous process if they believe business owners from other legal market have the capital and experience to push them out of the market.

The cost of doing business is considerably high, and while the industry may be inherently too risky for most people, Mora Mota Group will help illuminate key points to consider before looking to enter the Medical Cannabis Industry:

  • Start with the end in mind: No matter how long you’re in the industry, there will become a time where you must end the business. Whether you’re looking to cash-out in three years, pass the business along to your kids, or, unfortunately, you must liquidate the business, there must be a plan in place for that exit. What that moment in time looks like to you requires a clear vision to help you reach that point, and becoming self-aware of this in your planning stages will enable you to stay hopeful and positive about the future.

  • Build a disciplined team: Success is never guaranteed in this business, but you can see the companies that built a strong team will eventually triumph over their competitors. It's true the Medical Cannabis Industry is constantly growing, but the means of producing Cannabis fits squarely within the agribusiness industry. There are management teams in this industry filled with professionals from Finance, Government, and Law firms whose backgrounds help create a prosperous business. While it may take time to compile a list of strong and disciplined individuals, it pays to get your ducks in a row (and hopefully most of them paid) before the application process is cleared.

  • Seek to understand your market: A business must become hyper-aware of the needs of the patients before it can start to fulfill their needs. Although you may have lived in a State your entire life and think you know and understand the culture, it’s still important to thoroughly research the final end consumer, the patient. Potential licensees need to fully grasp the social dynamics, demographics, age groups, racial backgrounds and other factors specific to their market. Where a flood of new patients will dictate the maturity of the market, while one product may have been popular with a patient group in another market, it should not be assumed that every patient group will also react positively, so constant innovation and development is necessary to staying relevant.

  • Learn from other’s mistakes: As you begin to compile the best strategies and techniques in either growing, processing or retail, always be on the lookout for the horror stories that businesses have encountered while in the infancy stages of other markets. Recent examples of compliance issues include pesticide limits in Oregon, labeling requirements in Colorado, and even interstate commerce issues where a former Cannabis Executive tried to deliver legal Cannabis oil from one legal Medical state to another. As egregious as these acts may be, staying current and up to date on compliance rules in your State and across the U.S. will give you an advantage towards achieving success.

  • And always, keep a good attitude: It’s important to consider your own personal reasons for entering the Medical Cannabis Industry, far beyond merely securing a license to legally operate in a Cannabis market. While you’re planning to meet your short-term and long-term goals, there will be significant challenges from both competitors and the government to steer you towards failure. Always keep in mind your reason for starting, as it will empower you to keep pushing forward towards your personal milestones. We can plan, plan and over plan, but trials and hardships will occur along the way, but maintaining a great attitude and spirit during the process will make your journey much more rewarding.


Hundreds, maybe thousands, of businesses have already entered the Medical Cannabis Industry, along with countless others looking to enter with dreams of becoming rich. In reality, as one expert predicts, up to 97% of these businesses will not make it, a failure rate higher than Silicon Valley startups during the dot-com boom. Navigating this Industry requires considerable patience, discipline, knowledge a and professional team from every area of business to carry you to the finish line, and beyond.


Check back next week to read Part 2 on Navigating the Licensing process in the Medical Cannabis Industry as Mora Mota Group provides more advice for small business startups in the Medical Cannabis Industry.