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How to Start a Marijuana Dispensary: Your Legal Guide

Since it has become legal to buy cannabis in a number of states, both for medical use and even for recreation in some areas, starting a marijuana dispensary is a viable option for people in many locations. This might be your dream business or career, or you might just be looking for new opportunities in a thriving and growing industry.

What Is a Marijuana Dispensary?

A marijuana dispensary is where someone can go to legally access cannabis in their state. Dispensaries stock a wide range of different cannabis products and allow you to get weed for recreation if this is allowed in your state. In other states, you might have to provide a medical marijuana card, which proves that you need marijuana for a medical reason.

Marijuana dispensaries are not just vital because of the fact that they allow you to access cannabis without using the black market at all, they are also great for those who need advice. The dispensary can act as a sounding board, and many dispensaries offer their expertise on specific strains of cannabis, for example. It might be that one strain is more suitable for someone’s needs than another.

Starting a marijuana dispensary isn’t always easy, but it is achievable with a bit of thought and planning, and it’s a good idea to get some legal consult.

Research City and County Marijuana Regulations

When you are looking for a guide on opening a dispensary, you’ll need to pay close attention to the state, city, and county regulations. Some places even have restrictions on the types of payment that you can take. It’s a complicated topic and because cannabis has only recently been legalized in a lot of places, the laws aren’t always common knowledge.

Not only do you need to keep your finger on the pulse of all the existing laws, but you also need to be aware of any future proposed changes. Many state and county laws are still evolving.

The Cole Memorandum is essential reading. It’s a document that guides state attorneys about marijuana laws.

It’s a good idea to spend some time doing research and ideally, you should speak to a lawyer. This will help you to be confident that what you’re doing is legal, and that you’ve taken the right precautions.

Refer to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, which is a database of laws and penalties based on the state legislatures. This is useful for understanding exactly where you stand in the scheme of things and whether you might be liable.

Even if it is legal to trade, and you follow the , one of the vital considerations is regarding compliance. There may be a set of rules and restrictions about things like who you employ, and as mentioned, payment methods. You also need to stick to all of the state laws that could impact your right to trade or get you in trouble, such as checking the ID of everyone you serve and sticking to the legal maximums of how much you can dispense, both for cannabis in flower form, and oils and other derivatives.

How to Get a Medical Marijuana License

If you want to grow marijuana or open a dispensary to sell weed, you need to get a license to do so. Depending on the laws where you live, this can have quite a set of rules and restrictions. Because it varies so much state-by-state, you need to make sure you get the right legal advice and take your time.

It’s possible that background checks will be legally mandated in your state. Not only for the person applying for the license, but you might also have to ensure that all of your employees are checked. Security clearance might be a condition of your right to sell marijuana.


Legally, the restrictions on your dispensary will vary based on where you live and where you are trading. If you’re in a state where cannabis is legal recreationally, it is likely to be a simpler process, but there is still plenty to consider when you are looking to start your dispensary, and effectively a set of “rules” to follow when you get your license to sell marijuana. If you don’t stick to the restrictions in your county then you might face legal action and be forced to cease trading. A lot of places still take cannabis dispensing very seriously and issue strict laws for those in the industry.

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