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how to sell marijuana online

How to sell marijuana online

As local and federal governments across the globe move towards legalizing cannabis, more and more entrepreneurs are flocking to this budding market. Although legal marijuana for recreational purposes is still limited to 11 US states, that number is slowly growing with many business owners hoping for federal legalization on the horizon. Limited legalization isn’t stopping profits, however – legal marijuana in the US was reported to have made up to $23 billion in 2017 alone and is projected to reach $77 billion by 2022. Canada has also recently legalized marijuana across the entire country, both medicinally and recreationally, making the country a hot-bed for new online and brick-and-mortar cannabis businesses eager to enter the industry.

Although the cannabis market is still highly restricted, it also comes with an extremely passionate community that is easy to tap into. Weed enthusiasts are constantly seeking out the best legal marijuana to buy and try, making this industry a strong niche with a lot of potential to grow. So, if you’re located in one of the states/countries that has legalized marijuana, now is the time to enter it by building your own online cannabis store. With 3dcart, you’ll have everything you need to start and manage a unique and opportunistic business like one that sells cannabis. Gain access to a robust eCommerce toolset and get started designing a beautiful store, expanding your customer reach, building your brand and becoming a successful online cannabis retailer.

Understanding Cannabis
and Cannabis Products

The world of cannabis can be confusing to a newcomer – especially when learning all of the terminology for the first time. There are many factors involved that effect the growth, selling, use and legality of a cannabis plant. It all ultimately comes down to THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. The THC compound is a cannabinoid that creates the “high” feeling most often associated with marijuana; the amount of THC in a cannabis plant regulates whether it’s illegal to buy or sell.

While it’s 100% legal to sell CBD products with little to no THC in the US, selling marijuana (medically or recreationally) is still highly regulated and federally illegal. So, it’s important to know the difference between different cannabis plants if you’re interested in selling it online. Let’s go through the main forms of cannabis that you may end up stocking on your online weed store.

What is typically referred to as “hemp” is a form of the cannabis plant that contains 0.3% THC or less. Hemp is usually grown in a way that maximizes size and yield and is widely versatile in its uses; it can be made into textiles, paper, food, building materials, body care and more. Cannabis retailers typically sell CBD products made from hemp, as it is legal across the entire United States and in most countries.

Legal Marijuana

In contrast to hemp, marijuana (commonly referred to as weed) contains more than 0.3% THC. Marijuana is bred to optimize certain characteristics of the specific breed or “strain,” such as higher or lower amounts of THC and overall CBD content. Grown and cultivated in controlled environments to produce the budding flowers from female plants, marijuana can be sold for either medical or recreational purposes (depending on local laws). The legality of marijuana is much more complicated, usually coming down to whether it’s being sold for medicinal purposes or not – even medical marijuana is only legal in 33 US states.

Note: To sell medical marijuana, you’ll need specific licensure that differs from recreational marijuana sales.

Cannabis Indica, Sativa and Hybrid

Cannabis comes in two main forms: cannabis indica and cannabis sativa. Buds from an indica plant are typically sold as medical marijuana to patients looking for a relaxant. On the other hand, buds from a sativa plant are usually sold as recreational because they tend to make the user “high.” When the two are crossbred, it creates a hybrid that may come with the effects of both types depending on which is dominant.

Summary of Cannabis Products & Accessories You Can Sell:

  • Cannabis buds/flowers
  • Dried cannabis
  • Cannabis capsules & soft-gels
  • Cannabis topicals & skin care
  • Cannabis oil & vaporizers
  • Hemp-derived CBD products

While this list doesn’t include every single cannabis product available to sell, they are the most commonly sold. There’s also a wide variety of accessories that can be sold alongside these items, including glass pipes and vapes. By building your cannabis eCommerce website with full-featured software like 3dcart, you can easily bundle your products with accessories and make it easy for customers to make repeat purchases; you may even want to add the option for a subscription plan or recurring order, so customers never run out of their supply.

How to Choose a Cannabis Supplier

Due to the relatively new nature of the legal marijuana market, regulation isn’t as comprehensive as it is in industries like food and makeup in regard to product quality and ingredients. But legality is also much more complicated in this case – more than almost any other industry in eCommerce. That being said, choosing the right cannabis supplier can feel like a balancing act; you need someone who follows the law and grows a quality product for you to sell.

When looking into your options for cannabis suppliers, be sure to do your research. Remember that both medical and recreational marijuana are restricted based on location and chemical content, so don’t let anything slip past you so your business won’t suffer from for legal repercussions. Here’s some tips on how to choose the right cannabis supplier for your online store.

Product Selection

Weed enthusiasts are all about having a wide selection of strains, breeds and product types to choose from when they’re buying cannabis. So, keeping that in mind, it’s best to look for a cannabis supplier or wholesaler that carries a variety of products so that you can cover all your bases in your online store’s inventory. Be sure to stock several forms of legal marijuana (including indica, sativa, and hybrid) so that you have something that can appeal to any customer.

Location

Sale and transport of marijuana is highly regulated across North America. If your business is located in Canada, then you’ll want to exclusively work with Canadian cannabis suppliers. However, if you’re in the US, then you’ll need to make sure that you’re working with a supplier within your state – shipping cannabis through the mail is restricted, so you’ll need to either pick up your products or rely on a delivery service.

Growth & Cultivation

One of the most important factors in the quality and effect of cannabis is how it’s grown and cultivated. You’ll want to make sure that your cannabis supplier shows proof that its products are grown in controlled environments with non-toxic chemicals, so you know exactly what’s gone into the product you’re selling.

Legal Compliance

Since sale and use of cannabis is still highly restricted in many areas, it’s a good idea to ensure that both you and your supplier are abiding by local laws. Not only does your business need to be properly licensed with permits for cannabis sale, but your supplier also needs to be for cannabis growth and distribution. Check for evidence of compliance on your chosen supplier’s website or contact them to confirm that your business dealings stay legal.

Payment Processors for Cannabis Stores

If you’re selling legal marijuana, or any cannabis product, then you’ll need to work with a high-risk payment processor. Any industry that involves more legal requirements than normal or is at higher risk for fraud is classified as a high-risk industry. Not every payment processor is willing to work with a high-risk merchant, so it’s important to work with a processor that’s willing to accept any possible extra risk. 3dcart integrates with many high-risk payment providers that are ready and willing to work with your business to provide your needed payment solutions.

Fort Point Payments is a network of more than 30 domestic and international banks and acquirers that work to provide payment processing for high-risk merchants. Merchants using their payment processor will be able to accept all major credit cards, including Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and more.

eMerchantBroker, or EMB, is a payment facilitator that works mainly with eCommerce merchants within high-risk industries. Working at competitive rates, EMB is a well-known processor that specializes in getting high-risk merchants approved.

NETbilling supports eCommerce and brick-and-mortar stores in credit card & eCheck processing at low rates. They support multiple-currency transactions and offer 24/7 support all year via phone, live chat and email.

Maverick BankCard accepts a wide variety of payments with added fraud prevention, chargeback mitigation, detailed reporting and strong support. Located in Los Angeles, this leading merchant services provider is ready to support your business.

PayKings is a reputable payment processing company that’s well-versed in supporting high-risk merchants with unique needs. They offer low rates, accept all major credit cards, and offer fraud protection services.

High-Quality Cannabis Wholesalers

If you’d rather not grow and cultivate your own cannabis, then there’s several suppliers across North America that offer quality products for you to buy wholesale and stock on your online store. But, you shouldn’t just pick any cannabis supplier – you need one that’s right for your business needs that operates legally with quality products. As weed slowly becomes legal, more wholesalers are popping up that are worth your time.

Looking to start an online marijuana dispensary? Our website builder can help you start your online cannabis business and start selling marijuana products online

It’s Complicated: Can You Sell Cannabis Online?

The legal cannabis market is growing exponentially every single year. Experts estimate that the industry will be worth more than $73.6 billion by 2027. Despite its popularity, this swiftly growing sector is missing out on one of its biggest potential markets — e-commerce. Can you sell cannabis online? Let’s take a closer look at what it takes to sell cannabis online legally in the United States.

Shipping Troubles

Your average e-commerce transaction goes something like this — a shopper finds something they want and puts it in their virtual cart. From there, they enter their information, input their credit card number, and click the complete order button. In a couple days, the ordered item gets shipped straight to their door. E-commerce has become one of the easiest ways to get just about anything sent directly to you without the hassle of going to the store.

Unfortunately, shipping cannabis is not an option, even in states where it’s legal for medical or recreational use. According to the federal government, which still considers cannabis a dangerous Schedule I drug, shipping an order from a dispensary via USPS, UPS or FedEx constitutes drug trafficking , a costly felony charge.

This issue limits your ability to ship online orders to customers and makes e-commerce difficult for cannabis businesses. On the bright side, it also prevents people from placing an order from states where cannabis is still illegal.

A Solution: Courier Delivery

While sending a cannabis order through the mail might be illegal, that doesn’t mean dispensaries can’t deliver their customers’ online orders. Instead, many companies rely on couriers to deliver these packages in person.

This method has multiple benefits. In addition to allowing customers to have their purchases delivered, you’ve got a trained person on hand to verify IDs and collect payment.

Courier delivery is often limited to a small geographical area around the dispensary’s physical storefront. If online orders start becoming popular, it may be more cost-effective to expand your courier fleet to increase the size of that delivery zone.

However, this isn’t the only challenge legal cannabis companies face when trying to make their way into the e-commerce market.

A Cash-Only Business

Another challenge preventing the legal cannabis industry from entering the e-commerce realm is the fact that this is a cash-only business. Most online transactions require you to enter a credit or debit card, but once that’s complete, your order is shipped and on the way.

Credit or debit cards aren’t an option for dispensaries and legal cannabis companies. The current federal legality means banks and creditors don’t work with the industry, relegating any purchases — online or otherwise — to a cash-only payment model.

For online orders, cash payments can be challenging. People don’t carry cash as often as they used to and ATM fees can add up quickly. Some dispensaries choose to install an ATM on the property — at an additional cost — simply to make things more convenient for their customers. Unfortunately, this requires shoppers to come into the store, which negates the potential applications of online ordering.

A Solution: Payment Programs

Mobile payment apps often fall into the same categories as banks, banning any cannabis-related transactions. Things like PayPal, CashApp, and Venmo aren’t an option, but the industry is constantly developing innovations to make payments simpler. PayQwick is one of those options.

PayQwick is a mobile payment app that you load with money from your bank account, similar to PayPal or other mobile payment apps. The difference is that since banks and creditors don’t support it, customers can use it to make purchases at dispensaries. This app is even approved by state regulators and is licensed in the state of Washington as one of the state-approved money-sending apps for cannabis purchases.

This app is currently available in a limited number of cities on the West Coast, but it’s the perfect example of a solution for the cash-only problem.

Marketing Challenges

Marketing is the lifeblood of any online business. Word of mouth will only carry you so far. It gets challenging when cannabis-friendly websites like Weedmaps are overrun with unlicensed sellers , and major companies like Google change the rules so cannabis apps can no longer have an in-app shopping option. Social media, which is a valuable tool for any marketing division, is also out of reach for cannabis firms — at least when it comes to a paid advertisement.

It’s up to business owners to create a user-friendly website that allows potential customers to browse their wares quickly and easily. Many shoppers will stop using a website if it doesn’t display well on their device. Many dispensaries also have dozens or hundreds of different strains and products to list on their sites. Putting them all on a single page and expecting the customer to scroll through them will drive them away.

A Solution: Invest in Website Design

Having a great, eye-catching, engaging website that functions well is a necessity in today’s economy. We’ve become so wrapped up in e-commerce that without a strong online presence, any business will have trouble thriving. If you’re going to consider online orders, invest in a well-designed website.

If web design isn’t your forte, consider opting for a pre-built system like those common in restaurants. These online order systems are easy to set up and integrate seamlessly into existing inventory networks. It can also double as a point of sale in your dispensary or business, which keeps things streamlined.

Can You Sell Cannabis Online?

The answer is — it’s complicated. If you’re willing to jump through all the hoops — courier delivery, cash-only transactions, and an enhanced online presence — then yes, you can sell cannabis online. As the industry continues growing, banks and creditors may decide to start supporting it. The federal government may finally recant its decision to classify cannabis as a Schedule I drug. In an ideal world, cannabis legalization will happen on a national level.

While we wait for these milestones, selling cannabis online remains challenging, but it is possible if you try.

The rapidly growing cannabis sector is missing out on one of its biggest potential markets: e-commerce. What do you need to start selling online today? ]]>