We get it. Once you’ve made the decision to get into cannabis extraction, you’re eager to have the facility design, permitting, licensing, and buildout process behind you so that you can move on to the more juicy part – creating a myriad of concentrate products to carve out your share of the lucrative recreational cannabis market.
Since we’ve been there, we can relate to the urge to skip over steps that don’t necessarily seem important in the moment to get a facility up and running faster. However, we’ve also been in the industry long enough – and overseen numerous facility design and buildouts in several states – to know that skipping any step will end up costing more in the long run, in both time and finances.
A question we hear frequently is that of, “How long will it take to get my cannabis extraction facility up and running?” And while there are too many variables to allow for a definitive, tangible answer, there are some factors to consider that will help shed some light on what the correct answer is for you, as well as serve as a checklist of sorts to guide you through the process.
Work With Experts
Getting a facility to an operational phase with product successfully going to retail requires a team of experienced and qualified individuals. Far too often, we see groups overlook a critical piece early in the project that results in long delays. Many times these projects run out of funding and go under before they ever start.
Because of this, an invaluable piece of advice is to bring someone in early who can assess everything from local zoning, building and fire codes, contractors & vendors management, and ability to manage and train personnel. Many consultants don’t have the operational experience to actually produce the SKUs at the level you are after.
Site selection is an often-overlooked area when setting up a facility. Each state and county can have a wide variety of regulations that can make one jurisdiction much more advantageous than another. Many regulations work on paper, but other important considerations such as nearest vendors, laborers, and contractors should also be considered. In addition to site location, an appropriate building will need to be properly sized. Zoning, occupancy class, and utilities will all need to be assessed.
Extraction Team Training
Training can be one of the longest portions of any project, but it doesn’t have to be. Training Programs and Standard Operating Procedures can help reduce training time, but other considerations like equipment selection, experience, education, and operations management can be big contributors to the rate of training. Cannabis Processing is not a “one size fits all” industry and each site or processes will need its own tailored program. It is very important to choose consultants or vendors who have proofs of concept specifically in the cannabis industry, and a track record of taking projects from conception to production successfully.
Bringing in a group with operational experience is, without question, the most important aspect in bringing a facility online. Every legal market will present its own unique challenges from state traceability to quality control. To a new or inexperienced group these regulations can seem like a large hurdle to overcome, but experienced operators deal with this day to day. Make sure your operating partner fits the project. The Instagram consultant is likely not the best fit for your project.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, facility startup time is dependent on dozens of variables that with the right operational partner can be managed and planned for. Depending on the complexity of the project, the level of engagement, and regulatory delays, a project can take 3-9 months to get the facility, designed, specified, built, and permitted. We have even seen an additional 3-6 months past the buildout for operations to be greenlighted from city and state authorities. Overall, you’re looking at 6-15 months to have products on the shelf if your facility is not already designed and permitted and 1-6 months if your facility is designed, permitted, and ready for operations.