How to Start a Dispensary – Important Considerations

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The ultimate 9-step guide to how to start a marijuana dispensary. Research the legal requirements and risks. Legal training. Write a business strategy. Get funding.

Get a local government permit to start a dispensary. Build an operating agreement. Obtain licenses for employees, volunteers or anyone else who will help make sure the dispensary is properly funded, legally authorized and able to make a profit.

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Start by learning all the different types of licenses a municipality requires marijuana businesses to obtain in order to be able to operate legally. Find out if they require a license for medical use, processing and possession or cultivation. Find out the different types of licenses for each category of activity. Check the business license status for each one.

How to Start a Dispensary

Get one or more pre-licensed growers. Choose a reputable distributor. Investigate the companies involved in the buying, production and distribution of marijuana concentrates, buds and seeds. Each type of product has its own risks, rewards and responsibilities. Growers are given time to establish themselves as legitimate businesses before sales begin. They have a chance to make sure the transaction is documented and every detail is known before products are distributed.

Federal law restricts most states from making any changes to state laws that govern medical marijuana. Before a jurisdiction makes such a change, they must first request an opinion from the United States Department of Justice.

There are Two Opinions Available.

They can either go in favor of legalizing marijuana altogether or they can limit it to medicinal uses. A lawyer specializing in cannabis industries can tell a client which option is best for his or her dispensary.

Once a prospective dispensary opens for business, there are many important decisions to make. A qualified attorney with experience in operating and managing Dispensaries can help guide the way through the legal process. He or she will provide needed guidance from the very start to ensure the application process, inspections, licenses, and ongoing business operations are conducted legally.

Licenses are one of the first things a potential dispensary must receive. Many cities and counties will not grant new businesses operating within their jurisdiction criminal records or financial records. This includes any background checks on potential employees. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

The majority of states do not have any laws that require a background check on employees performing work in a dispensary. However, it is wise to conduct thorough background checks on anyone who may work at the dispensary.

Taxes are another facet of operating a medical marijuana Dispensary. Many cities and counties don’t tax marijuana shops because they view them more like a hobby than a business. In general, taxes are less than sales tax, since most people are aware that it is not legal, but are not able to purchase it.

There are, however, some municipalities that expect taxes to be paid regardless. Dispensaries that do not expect local taxation may face stiff penalties. This is something to consider when starting a dispensary.

A critical component of operating a successful Dispensary involves branding. Without good branding, it is difficult for customers to distinguish your shop from hundreds of other dispensing shops in its area. Branding helps to make customers aware of your product, as well as helping to build customer loyalty to your Dispensary.


Many entrepreneurs work with a reputable branding company to create their ideal image. This includes an aesthetically pleasing storefront, knowledgeable staff, proper packaging, and professional service.

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