The Licensing & Application Process

In this chapter, we’re going to examine the actual process involved with applying for your dispensary license, and break it down into a few easy to understand steps. We’ll also highlight a few key components you’ll need to have complete and in-hand to successfully navigate the process, regardless of which state or province in which you intend to operate:

5 Steps to Apply for Marijuana Retail License

Step 1: Research your state or province’s procedures

The first part of the licensing process is always researching your cannabis license procedures online. An overview of state regulations, including licensing requirements and links to relevant government websites can be found here for California, Colorado, Oklahoma, Washington, Alaska, Nevada, Montana, Missouri, Michigan, and Illinois. Check here for Canadian regulations and procedures by province.

Step 2: Identify potential red flags

Next, you’ll want to check to see if there are any potential red flags within your business plan that may cause your dispensary application to be denied outright. Not meeting age or residency requirements can trigger such a denial, as can criminal convictions.

Step 3: Complete all required paperwork and gather supporting documents

Applying for Dispensary or Cannabis Retail License

The next step in the process is actually filling out all of the forms and applications the state requires. This is usually fairly straightforward; ensure you are open and honest to the best of your ability, and double check that you have every one of the required elements of the application. If you are in the US, this will include obtaining a FEIN from the IRS, along with your tax number and any required documentation relevant to your choice of corporate structure.

Step 4: Investigation and consultation with the state licensing board or agency.

Next, you’ll wait while the state licensing authority investigates your application and performs its due diligence. If any problems are turned up during the investigative portion of the process, the applicant will typically be notified and given an opportunity to respond.

• Consultation – Assuming all the information provided on the initial application checks out, most states will then proceed to schedule an in-person consultation between the prospective owners and the licensing board. Everyone will have to attend, and assuming your application is approved, you will typically be expected to render payment at this time. There may be additional elements of legal compliance after initial approval as well, such as fingerprinting.

Step 5: Complete any local licensing dispensary requirements

After the state/province approves your license, you may also be required to seek additional approval at the local level. Work with the specific municipality you are considering operating in to ensure that your licensed dispensary is fully compliant on the local level, as well as at state. Local applications can often end up taking longer to process than state ones, so be sure to account for any extra time needed.

Licensing & Application Must-Have

Business Plan - You aren’t getting anywhere without one.

Financing/Proof of Capitalization - Be able to clearly demonstrate possession of the appropriate amount of capital to the licensing authority.

Full Team List - For background checks and fingerprinting purposes.

Location - Make sure your selected location is fully compliant with all state laws.

Security & Surveillance - Having a finalized security plan for your facility is critical part of the licensing progress.

The next chapter is all about Writing Your Business Plan.