How to Get a Marijuana Dispensary License in States Where Marijuana Is Legal

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As time goes by, more and more states are jumping on the legalization bandwagon, whether it’s for medical purposes or for recreation. As a business, you now have the ability to provide product to people in need, but it is important to keep in mind that marijuana is still a scheduled drug, and with that being the case, it is still illegal on the federal level. It is pretty risky to get into the business, but we’ve gone ahead and arranged this list, providing you with each of the state laws, in order. Find your state on the list, and determine whether or not you can go into business.


Type: Medical/Recreational

How to Do It: Put in an application to acquire an Establishment license (you can do this online) providing documentation for the following:

  • Marijuana Cultivation Facilities
  • Product Manufacturing Facilities
  • Testing Facilities
  • Retail Stores
  • Handler permits
  • Etc


Type: Medical

How to Do It: Check with the state regarding cultivation/distribution licenses. Note that according to state law, you no longer need to grow your own marijuana, as a dispensary, but if you plan to do so, you need to hold a separate grow license.


Type: Medical

How to Do It: The state offers patients and caregivers the opportunity to form a collective or cooperative. Marijuana is taxed in California, and growers/sellers need to maintain a business license. Currently, recreational marijuana is still off limits at this stage.


Type: Medical/Recreational

How to Do It: Currently, anyone possessing more than 6 plants or 2 ounces of cannabis product must become a business, and they must obtain a city Medical Marijuana Business License. A state license will also be required and must be obtained separately along with your business license.


Type: Medical

How to Do It: All dispensaries must register with the state’s Department of Consumer Protection. Similar to liquor licenses, a limited number are available for both growers and retailers. The actual availability date is a matter of speculation, so pay attention!


Type: Medical

How to Do It: Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to obtain a license for a marijuana based business in Delaware as licenses are almost never available. The state has taken over production by licensing the First State Compassion Center, which holds a near monopoly on marijuana cultivation and sales within Delaware.

District of Columbia (Washington, DC)

Type: Medical

How to Do It: Much like Delaware, you will be unable to obtain a license to sell cannabis in the nation’s capital as licenses are not currently available, nor is there a system in place to provide additional licenses to those who are interested.


Type: Medical

How to Do It: Marijuana licenses for businesses are extremely limited, and as of March 2017, only eight applicants have been approved. Currently, they’re expected to be up and running sometime in 2017


Type: Medical

How to Do It: As of right now, the state has issued just one dispensary license, and has not approved any cultivation licenses.


Type: Medical

How to Do It: In the state of Maine, licenses are rarely available, having not seen license issuance since 2013. As of right now, there is no regulatory framework for recreational marijuana businesses.


Type: N/A

How to Do It: Unfortunately, marijuana businesses cannot be established in the state of Maryland just yet as draft regulations are still pending both adoption and enactment.


Type: Medical

How to Do It: When you file your application with the State’s Health and Human Services Department, it is necessary for you, as a business to also file a letter of intent. The state is currently planning to authorize 35 dispensaries.


Type: Medical

How to Do It: The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs established rules on December 20, 2016, that provides a framework for legal dispensary operations, including grow operations and other businesses.


Type: Medical

How to Do It: Licenses for cannabis based businesses are not available in Minnesota.


Type: Medical

How to Do It: Licenses are available periodically, but the state called for applicants to come forward during a period in 2014. Right now, the law allows for the establishment of 66 dispensaries, and two hundred cultivators. Right now, no new applications are being accepted or filed.

New Hampshire

Type: Medical

How to Do It: As of right now, the state has issued licenses to a certain number of Alternative Treatment Center, or ATC’s for the purpose of producing and distributing medical marijuana. Right now, no new licenses are being issued to applicants.

New Jersey

Type: Medical

How to Get It: Like New Hampshire, New Jersey makes use of Alternative Treatment centers, and as right now, only six have been licensed.  There is no words as to when, or if new licenses will be issued

New Mexico

Type: Medical

How to Do It: Licenses are issued on an as-needed basis.

New York

Type: Medical

How to Do It: Currently, no new licenses are being issued apart from those that were already in the applicant pool.


Type: Medical/Recreational

How to Do It: Licenses are available for medical and recreational businesses, with both types being separate from the other.

Rhode Island

Type: Medical

How to Do It: Once again, licenses are issued on an as-needed basis and the state licenses ‘Compassion Centers’. There is an open application period, which is announced by the state, and there are currently only three open dispensaries.



Type: Medical

How to Do It: Licenses are available on a periodic basis, with a strict limitation on availability. There are currently 4 dispensaries in the state, and they are required to cultivate manufacture and transfer. Law states that only a total of 4dispensaries can be registered, with the state announcing when new licenses become available.

Type: Medical

How to Do It: Licenses are not currently available, though when they are, businesses are required to hold either a producer, processor or retailer’s license. No one business can hold all three at once.

Any topic you’d like us to write about? Let us know in the comments below. 

Terrance Kern

Terrance Kern

Terrance Kern is a regular contributor to numerous cannabis-related blogs and is keen on sharing knowledge gained over the years. Terrance has built a solid reputation for himself and Florida's Medical Marijuana which specializes in spreading the therapeutic benefits of marijuana. To learn more about medicinal cannabis visit our website. Otherwise, let’s stay connected on Facebook.

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