How to get a Marijuana Dispensary License

Dispensary Open Sign

Opening a cannabis business that deals in buying, growing, selling, or processing of product is an extremely complicated venture. There are dozens of angles to consider and spider webs of red tape to climb through, but the first step is usually to get your license.



The first thing to know when trying to obtain a license to deal in cannabis is that every state’s laws are completely different. The best thing you can do is to hop on your state’s website and check out their page on Marijuana licensing. It’s likely that they have the applications necessary to begin the process on those sites. If you can’t find applications online, contact your state Department of Health or Liquor Control Board and they should be able to point you in the right direction.

Every state has different barriers of entry to obtaining a license. Many require you to be a local resident, and even more require proof of a certain amount of capital. In many larger, more populous states such as Illinois, the financial barrier of entry is enough to deter most from even applying. Some states require a would-be dispensary owner to prove they have millions before they will even approve an application. There’s a reason for this, as marijuana costs a lot to produce. Many high-end commercial grows cost up to ten million to erect.

Once you’ve navigated your local application process, turn in your application. Now comes the hard part, waiting. Many states have hundreds of applications to sift through, and not much devoted to combing through them. It could take years to hear back. Hopefully, after some time, your application will be seen. It is likely that it will be returned in need of addendums. Be patients and keep on keeping! This is your first step into the legal cannabis industry, and more red tape is coming.

If your application completes the approval process, it is likely that you already have a location for your business, whether it is a grow or a dispensary. Most states require you to show building plans, location information, and basically lay out your entire business model before you can get approved. Your state will have all required information on just what is needed from you.

While it may seem like an arduous journey, we hope you find your way into the new industry! Best of luck, and remember to persevere.