Back by popular demand: Two more tips for nailing your marijuana license application

Next Big Crop Managing Director Rich Cardinal Shares Some More Tips on Securing a Cannabis Business Application

When the Next Big Crop team is at cannabis industry conferences and expos throughout North America, one of the most common challenges we hear about from our colleagues in the marijuana industry is the cannabis license application process.

These marijuana license applications are a big lift, no doubt. But they’re also tasks we at Next Big Crop have a lot of experience with. And when we wrote an earlier blog advising those filling out these hefty cannabis license applications, we heard you loud and clear. You appreciated the guidance from Next Big Crop Managing Director Rich Cardinal, and you wanted more of his expertise.

And so back by popular demand, here are two more tips for nailing your cannabis license application, as explained by our fearless leader.


The decision-makers in the application process are looking for concrete information, not hypotheticals. This means you want to be able to back up your statements with accurate and pointed examples of how you will deliver.

“A lot of people will say, ‘I’m going to make vape pens’ or ‘I’m going to make cookies,’ and they might have some ambiguous language about how they’re going to have an SOP for making it happen,” Cardinal says. “But that doesn’t look nearly as strong as saying, ‘We’re partnering with an established cannabis company that is going to supply XYZ, they’ve already done X number of units nationally, they have solid SOPs in place.’”

Plainly and authoritatively state your objectives, and then show exactly how you’re going to achieve them, Cardinal advises. “Populate your team with someone who really does know how to do what you’re trying to do, and then show that you’re not going to be figuring it out on Day One. They’re not looking for folks who are doing product development; they want someone who can hit the ground running and produce right away.”


Sure, you’re likely to enlist help from people who already have experience with another legalized state’s market, but the truth is that tapping local experts will go a long way with the application reviewers.

“The board of advisers and the day-to-day operators are both critical to your success,” Cardinal says. “Make sure you choose well for your legal team, your pharmacist, your agronomist, your community and patient advocates, and always choose local over long distance when you can. If you’re in Virginia, it would be so much better to have the rank-and-file of a Virginia pharmaceuticals company on your side than the guy who oversees out-of-state pharma operations.”

One of the biggest mistakes first-time applicants make is underestimating how much time and effort will be needed to pull it all off.

“You need enough time to assemble that dream team, coordinate with investors, polish the application,” Cardinal says. “Most people think of those things, but don’t plan for delays, people out of town, the things that can eat up time. And then there are the little things, like getting documents notarized, printing and assembling thousands of pages, getting everyone to sign off on updates. Even after the application is written, there are still a lot of time-consuming tasks that need to be done.”

If you’re considering submitting a cannabis license application, Cardinal recommends giving yourself at least six to 12 months to pull it all together. “You can’t have too much time planned for this,” he says. “In reality, a year is a good goal, but at least six months, for sure.”

What applicants get when they utilize a consultant like Next Big Crop is the firm’s extensive collective experience with application project management. “We’re offering hands-on involvement and an intimate understanding of the process,” Cardinal says. “We have staff members who have done dozens of these applications, and we’ve been called upon to design business models based on all different types of markets.

“Our clients benefit from our knowledge and know-how regarding every aspect of the process.”