Finding reliable, reputable, high-quality cannabis vendors to supply your licensed dispensary is a crucial step in preparing your retail store for opening.

It is not as simple as reaching out to people you know that grow cannabis – you are operating under a licensed dispensary, so you need to do things by the book. This will mean only doing business with licensed cannabis growers. 

This process consists of plenty of research, vetting, and relationship building. We are going to share with you our experience sourcing product for our retail store, Cannabis Central.

Understanding supply and demand of cannabis in your state

Finding cannabis vendors is not black and white across state lines – the amount of effort you’ll need to put in greatly depends on the number of licensed growers in your state.

For example, in Washington, we had a huge shortage of product at first. There were hundreds of retail licenses, and only 25 licensed growers! This may be the case in your state, or, it could be the opposite – excess supply.

More often than not, the market levels itself out – but since the government regulates the cannabis industry and awards licenses to growers, it is really up to them to fix supply/demand imbalances.

Nevertheless, things have changed. Nowadays, there are tons of licensed growers in Washington. The same is true of Oregon, where prices are plummeting due to a huge surplus of cannabis products. In the future, hopefully cannabis can move across state lines and issues with supply/demand will become more scarce, but unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be on the horizon just yet.

How to find cannabis vendors for your dispensary

The process of finding licensed cannabis vendors for your dispensary is going to involve some digging. 

In Washington, I was reaching out to cannabis vendors well before we had our license. I wanted to be very proactive, and get ahead of the curve so to speak. I started emailing, calling, and even sending mail to these vendors to start building relationships. 

As you may already know, relationships are everything in this industry. Creating a relationship with your cannabis vendors will ensure long term success for both parties.

Introduce yourself, and get vendors familiar with your store. Do your due diligence in vetting your potential cannabis suppliers. Make sure the quality is where it needs to be, and make sure they are operating by the book as well. 

Vetting your cannabis vendors

Finding cannabis vendors is one things, but knowing how to work with them and vet them is another. There are a few things you should do with every vendor you talk to, including:

  • Verifying their vendor license is active and up to date
  • Discuss barcodes on products
  • Communicate your expectations for the relationship
  • Discuss variations of product
  • Discuss lead times, stock, and their ability to meet demands

While it may sound like a lot of dirty work, making sure you’ll have plenty of sources for inventory is important. And rest assured that eventually, as your store grows, vendors will start reaching out to you! These days, we get tons of vendors reaching out wanting to put their product on our shelves. Again, establishing relationships and spreading the word that you are opening will go a long way in attracting quality cannabis vendors.

Need help sourcing cannabis vendors for your dispensary?

If all of this sounds a little overwhelming, and you don’t know where to begin, let’s chat. Drop a comment below, or reach out to me with a message and I’ll respond asap.

I understand the dynamic between cannabis retailers and suppliers. There are things I had to learn the hard way that I can help you avoid, such as:

  • Knowing the differences between sourcing cannabis according to the time of the year
  • How to develop a system of reaching out to vendors
  • What your vetting process should look like
  • How to build authentic relationships with cannabis vendors early on
  • How to negotiate price with cannabis vendors

The most important takeaway here should be putting an emphasis on relationship building with other figures in the cannabis industry. There is room for everyone, and by getting to know the other players, we can all work to further the cannabis industry, while ensuring you have high quality product in your store at all times.