How to Start a Marijuana Restaurant?

Pritam Nagrale

Updated on:

Start a Marijuana Restaurant

Marijuana restaurants are the latest trend in USA as more and more states legalize weed for recreational use. As social taboos over use of marijuana vanish rapidly, an increasing number of investors will definitely eye opening such restaurants and cafes.

Start a Marijuana Restaurant

Therefore, if you’re looking at a superb investment opportunity and wish to invest in a very exclusive and profitable business, I strongly suggest you to start a marijuana restaurant.

Before I guide you about how to start a marijuana café, let’s look at the legal aspects of weed use.

Legal Aspects of Marijuana

Currently, 11 states in USA permit the sale and use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Other states allow marijuana and its derivatives strictly for medicinal purposes only.

While more states are to grant permission for recreational weed use in 2024, the Covid-19 pandemic seems to be causing delays in this legal process.

In 28 other states, Marijuana use is legal in some form or the other, though public use for recreational purposes isn’t permitted.

However, news reports clearly indicate that an increasing number of states will be legalizing recreational use as well as possession of Marijuana, once they amend the necessary laws.

According to news reports, legit Marijuana sales in USA are projected to touch or even cross the $23 billion by 2025.

Of course, all this weed isn’t merely for recreational purposes only; it includes medical and industrial uses too as well as exports of pharmaceutical products containing Marijuana derivatives.

Cannabis Café Makes History

Opening a marijuana restaurant in America is perfectly legal.

The first restaurant of its kind, named Cannabis Café, also known as Lowell’s Cafe opened on October 1, 2109 in West Hollywood, California, marking a historic moment for USA.

Since opening, the café is witnessing a steady flow of discerning customers from around the country, though it had to suspend operations due to the Covid-19 pandemic that’s ravaging America and the world.

How to Open a Marijuana Café

Before the opening of the Cannabis Café in California last October, there weren’t any specific laws that would permit any such restaurants to open anywhere in America. However, the owners of the café, Lowell & Co, had to navigate carefully through various laws to get the necessary licenses.

And strangely, such laws don’t exist till date. Possibly, due to delays in lots of administrative and legal processes due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Therefore, my guide on how to open a Marijuana café in USA is based upon information available from various online sources.

Let’s go over them in 6 simple steps.

Step 1: Select Your Area for Marijuana Restaurant

Earlier, Americans wanting a Marijuana restaurant had to travel all the way to countries in South America, the Netherlands or Asia where the use of this soft drug is legal.

However, in recent years, several US cities are emerging as favorites for Marijuana tourism, thanks to legalization of weed.

Therefore, the first thing to do when opening a Marijuana restaurant is to select a city where recreational weed use is legal.

While this list will definitely grow in 2024 and beyond, it’s best to consider opening a Marijuana restaurant here since real estate prices across USA have spiraled downwards due to the Covid-19 pandemic and it’s economic impact on the national economy.

A major aspect to consider while opening a Marijuana restaurant is also the actual location. Unlike liquor or tobacco, Marijuana smoke can adversely affect or even cause intoxication among non-users at some distance.

That’s because Marijuana smoke tends to be denser and doesn’t dissipate as easily. Therefore, you’ll require a location that’s fairly far from residential and business areas with lots of open space.

Step 2: Apply for Restaurant Licenses

The most complex part of opening a Marijuana restaurant comes after you finalize the city and the exact location. And that’s applying for restaurant licenses and employee permits.

While there’re elaborate laws for restaurants that serve liquor and allow smoking, rules and regulations for Marijuana restaurants have yet to come.

There’re some other licenses you’ll need to apply. Check this website as well as your local licensing offices for requirements. Getting these licenses can prove very simple if you have the necessary documents and resources. Apply for the permit that allows your customers to smoke.

You may have to designate a non-smoking area, if you wish to attract people that would visit the restaurant only for food and drink and don’t consume Marijuana or tobacco.

Step 3: Get Marijuana Retail License

Getting a Marijuana Retail License is the single most important part of starting a Marijuana café in America. As recreational use of Marijuana grows, various states are increasing the prices of Marijuana Retail Licenses.

And prices will go up as recreational weed use gains ground in America. Therefore, I suggest you apply for one at the earliest.

Marijuana licensing laws differ according to every state. Therefore, find out the local licensing laws online or the Cannabis licensing authorities of your state.

At some locations, you might require more than one license to sell Marijuana. These can include permits to import, store, weed transport as well as sales to customers.

If you’re planning on growing own Marijuana, it’s necessary to apply for a Cannabis cultivation license too.

Also check on permits, terms and conditions under which customers of your Marijuana restaurant can use weed on your premises. The Food & Drug Administration has very clear guidelines on use of Marijuana for recreational and medical purposes. Get familiar with these rules since compliance is compulsory.

Step 4: Comply with Smoke Related Regulations

Compliance with smoke-free regulations for restaurants is something you’ll definitely have to comply with to open a Marijuana café in America. An increasing number of states are now enforcing no-smoke laws at restaurants. Fortunately, certain categories of restaurants are allowed to permit smoking on their premises.

In such cases, you might have to restrict children, pregnant women, persons with lung disorders and those prone to allergies from tobacco smoke and aromatic substances from entering your Marijuana restaurant.

This can prove to be a proverbial Catch-22 situation. The US Constitution strictly prohibits discrimination in any form. Therefore, you can face expensive lawsuits and other problems if you prohibit anyone from dining at your restaurant.

At the same time, there’re also several laws that allow you to protect health of consumers. Hence, you’ll need to create a non-smoking zone at your restaurant and separate it from the place where people are allowed to smoke pot.

This again can prove very tricky since pot and tobacco smoke doesn’t clear away easily and can spread throughout the restaurant. Hence, you’ll have to clearly mark smoking and non-smoking zones and put warning signs.

That way, you can buy protection against discrimination and health related claims arising from any customer. Since you’ve put proper warning signs and notices, people entering the pot smoking zone would do so at their own risk.

Step 5: Install Ventilators & Air Purification Systems

The Cannabis Café in California has spent a formidable fortune to install ventilators and air purification systems to ensure that pot smoke doesn’t affect customers, especially non-smoking patrons in their designated areas.

As I mention earlier in this article, pot smoke is heavy and has an acrid odor. Hence, you’ll have to invest a considerable amount of money to ensure that every table has ventilators to let out Cannabis smoke and air purifiers to maintain high quality air inside the premises.

You might have to get such ventilators and air purifiers custom-made to suit the premises. It’s possible to open an all-outdoors Marijuana café.

However, the flipside is that your restaurant will have to close during winter months and inclement weather when people can’t enjoy weed outdoors. Therefore, the best idea would be to offer both, indoor and outdoor seating facilities.

Step 6: Employ Joint Rollers

Joint rollers are the most important employees your Marijuana restaurant needs to hire. That’s because joint rollers are the ones who’re skilled in filling cigarettes and other delivery devices with the right quantity of tobacco and weed.

They also know how to create a shisha or pipe, if your customers so desire.

Joint rolling is an art and only skillful people can do it. Therefore, you might have to employ some recovering or practicing addicts as well.

Nowadays, there’re websites where you can employ joint rollers, thanks to the growing legitimization of pot for recreational use. And you’ll also have to invest some money on Cannabis rolling equipment.

At Cannabis Café, a standard joint or cigarette filled with Marijuana and tobacco skillfully costs $18 and more. This means, you’ll have to calculate payroll expenses on joint rollers as well as cost of the weed, tobacco and other gear to fix your prices.

More Information to Open Marijuana Restaurant

Getting customers for a Marijuana restaurant isn’t as easy as any ordinary café or diner. Often, people that smoke pot want some privacy. Others may not be as discreet.

At the same time, you need to guard your restaurant against hardcore drug addicts that can get high on weed and create problems for other customers. Hence, you might have to hire a couple of bouncers too.

Smoking weed and driving can prove dangerous and even fatal to the customer and others. Though you mightn’t get into legal problems directly, it can cause enough bad publicity for your business. Therefore, take all precautions possible.

Wrap Up

As you can see, it’s not impossible or difficult to open a Marijuana restaurant in the US provided you follow proper guidelines and laws. According to unconfirmed reports, dozens of entrepreneurs are already waiting to invest on such ventures due to their uniqueness. Marijuana cafes will surely be taking vice investing to a new, higher level.

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