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How to Start a Cannabis Dispensary



Quite the intriguing blog title, right? Here at Women Pushing Dirt, we’d like to be more inclusive and tolerant of the type of businesses we’re featuring. Nowadays, the craze surrounding the legalization of cannabis in most states has reached a whole new level. If you are thinking of starting a business, starting a cannabis dispensary might be a great idea to consider.


We’ve scoured the internet to make things easier for you. However, fair warning to you all, starting a cannabis dispensary is by no means a walk in the park. Just like all business ventures, it requires a certain degree of compliance with specific authorities and agencies (as you might have guessed), as well as a huge degree of commitment and resolve from you, the owner, to see things through. That aside, let’s go through steps.


First, you have to look inward and make sure that you’re not just entering this business for profit. Cannabis, for the longest time, has raised a lot of eyebrows for being “addictive.” Schedule 1 Narcotics, by definition, are substances that have no apparent medical effect but are highly addictive and harmful to the point that ingestion could lead to fatalities. Ironically, alcohol and tobacco are two substances that would easily fit this description, yet these two are sold to almost anybody. We’re not requiring you to believe in cannabis per se; however, once you do decide to engage in the business of having a cannabis dispensary, be ready to throw your “hypocrisy” aside and embrace the fact that cannabis has its specific indications and contraindications.


Second, be up-to-date regarding your state’s latest rulings when it comes to cannabis. The Cole Memorandum is a wealth of information to give you an idea of how cannabis laws are implemented. If you’re in California, then Proposition 215 and 420 are great sources of supplemental information.


Third, find a compliant property to rent. This may be subject to the ordinances imposed on each state, but a compliant property, in general, should be 1000 feet from a school, residential zone, and another compliant property. Another factor to considering in picking a property is if it’s convenient to your target market.


Once you ticked the first three off your list, then you can proceed with coming up with a feasibility study. Prepare a business plan and concretize your numbers. This is also where you conduct market research to check the demand and potential customers.


The next step is to get your license. One has to comply with several things before getting a license for your cannabis dispensary. You will have to pay a significant amount of money for compliance. Each state may have different requirements for licensing.


Lastly, get a supplier and market your product. This should be relatively easy, compared to the previous steps. It is vital to make sure that you source your products from legitimate suppliers. Cheaper is not always better in this field. You’ve already risked so much time and resources in procuring a license, so it is better to be safe than sorry.



With laws surrounding cannabis changing often, it is important to keep yourself in the loop of new information, even if you’ve already opened your dispensary. To avoid inconveniences, unnecessary penalties, and ensure the continuity of operations, make sure to follow your state’s ordinances and you’ll be in the clear.

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