So, the time has come to identify a location for your cannabis operation – great! You are entering a labyrinth that is full of twists and turns and invisible hurdles. The cannabis industry is hard to navigate by itself, and the complexities related to real estate regulations can become one of the more critical issues for licensed operators looking to build their next empire. Most states, counties, and municipalities have varying definitions, parameters, and guidelines that require thorough planning, patience, and persistence.

Gaining the required entitlements and navigating zoning regulations can be some of the biggest barriers to entering the cannabis market. We break it down below for you to have a better understanding of how to approach these eminent issues.


Zoning involves a set of laws applied by a local municipality dividing lands into different zones for use. These zones tend to be split by residential, commercial, or industrial categories. Within each of these categories, there are different zoning laws. For cannabis, most state statutes will include minimum setback distances from “sensitive uses”. These normally include K-12 schools, religious institutions, public parks, and drug rehabilitation centers. In some cases, land may not be zoned for the use you would like. If this is the case rezoning is required through zoning variances. Zoning regulations give municipalities a strong influence on communities and what can and can’t be built.

Entitlements are legal rights conveyed by local government entities approving the development of a property for a certain use, intensity, building type, or building placement. Entitlements can be a major factor in the ultimate use, viability, and value of your property. These can come in many forms, but a common one related to cannabis is a Conditional Use Permit.


Cannabis is new to many cities which can cause frustration given that many local or state government offices haven’t fully determined all of the rules. This can waste your time and money in the process if you don’t navigate correctly. Often times, you have found the perfect location for your dispensary or cultivation site, but it isn’t properly zoned. This would require going to local government and applying for a Conditional Use Permit, or a CUP. This process involves asking for an audience with the local municipality to present why you think an allowance should be granted outside of the written rules. An example outside of cannabis is some neighborhoods resist some corporate or national franchise businesses as they think it will change the dynamic of the community. You can imagine what some feedback around cannabis might be.

Because the cannabis industry is just blossoming it requires more custom development standards than many other businesses. The process to obtain all of the necessary approvals can be costly and time-consuming. Having a cannabis real estate advisor is a necessity to ensure all documents are properly in place, due diligence is done on a community before spending significant resources, and the presentation is done properly to the local community leaders.


Zoned Properties has helped many businesses and entrepreneurs find the best location for their cannabis operation. Here to help you avoid the pitfalls in the cannabis industry let our experts handle the minute details so you can focus on your business. With real estate, sustainability, and consultation services we work to make the process as quick and painless as possible for you. Reach out with any questions you have. We are happy to help!