How Much Does It Cost to Open a Dispensary? License Costs

Nikolay Stoyanov

January 5, 2022

How much does it cost to open a dispensary today? What’s the dispensary license cost in 2021?

In this article, we’re going to take a deep dive into this hot topic and give you all the answers!

Today, the cannabis business is booming all over the world. Whether we’re talking about medical marijuana or recreational weed, many countries are trying to legalize the plant.

There are a lot of reasons why this industry is experiencing such growth.

Recreational cannabis has been around for ages, and it makes sense that many countries are trying to legalize it and get taxes from newly found cannabis companies.

On the other hand, medical marijuana is really promising. We can use it for various medical conditions and symptoms and even as a supplement.

A good chunk of the cannabis business is done online. However, that doesn’t mean that dispensaries are a lousy investment.

These stores are making huge amounts of money, so it makes sense if you would like to invest in such a project.

One of the first questions you need to ask yourself is, “how much does it cost to open a dispensary?” Can this be a lucrative project?

Read this article to find out!

How much does it cost to open a dispensary in 2020?

If you wish to open a cannabis dispensary, you will require a hefty initial investment.

There will be a lot of fees, so you need to be prepared to spend even more than the initial projections indicated.

In a nutshell, marijuana dispensaries are similar to any other small business. Most of your money will be spent on renting and equipping the dispensary.

You will also need to consider all the legal fees that would allow you to open such a shop. Then, of course, you will also have to consider the inventory and workers’ salaries.

Together with all the other smaller expenses, the overall cost can be relatively high.

The most significant factor when opening marijuana dispensaries is the location. Needless to say, renting can vary from city to city. Your location in a town can also increase or diminish these costs.

In terms of location, you have to consider the fact that weed doesn’t have the same price in New York and Portland; the states that produce a lot of cannabis have relatively low prices compared to other states.

If we were to approximate, opening a marijuana dispensary in the US can cost anywhere from $150,000 to $2 million. And that’s just the initial costs!

Luckily, this business is so lucrative that most people will start making a lot of money from the get-go. This is especially true if you have a good location and products.

Some of the more significant expenses include annual staffing (the average cost is $250,000 annually), real estate renting ($100,000 annually), and renovations ($50,000).

Taking the initial steps

Legalizing cannabis can be an arduous process.

Unlike the traditional industries and products, there were a lot of legislative and systemic hurdles that both countries and companies had to go through.

The legalization process was especially troublesome in countries such as the USA, where state authorities can make their own decisions and laws.

One of the biggest issues that the cannabis industry faced was financing.

What about cannabis loans?

For the longest time, this was a gray area. Loaning money to a weed company was technically illegal.

And although there weren’t any major cases where a lander was persecuted for supporting a cannabis business, most financial institutions stayed away from these transactions.

However, the US financial institutions are more lenient towards cannabis brands as of late. This can be seen by the increased amount of loans and the increased value of these loans.

If you need a cannabis loan, we suggest applying for it at a local financial institution.

This would prevent any potential issues that could’ve surfaced because you loaned money from another state (keep in mind that cannabis laws are still very different from state to state).

At this point in time, the biggest issue is the high holding fee; it can go up to $2,000 per month.

Wait, what about the dispensary license cost?

But the fact that you managed to secure the initial funding doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods.

You will need to apply for an appropriate dispensary license to even consider doing this business.

Of course, even if you pay all the fees, that doesn’t mean you will get the license. The cannabis dispensary license fee varies from state to state.

Keep in mind: it isn’t cheap.

On average, the dispensary license cost is around $5,000. On top of that dispensary license cost, there is also an annual fee that you need to pay to continue running the business.

Lastly, we have to consider the renting cost as one of the significant initial hurdles.

There are some strict rules regarding cannabis dispensary locations. For example, it cannot be close to schools or other dispensaries. This instantly limits your options.

Ideally, you should rent space in an area with lots of foot traffic. This location is suitable and according to all the legislative rules.

Sometimes, cannabis entrepreneurs even have to pay a premium for using a space for a marijuana business.

The average cost of renting a space is around $100,000.

Bear in mind that this is a generalization; the costs can vary significantly based on available space, location, and other factors.

You will also need to consider the initial renovation fees.

How much does it cost to run daily operations?

As mentioned several times, the initial costs are the most prominent issues on your path to a successful cannabis business.

However, that doesn’t mean we can neglect the daily operating costs.

So, you will have to consider getting a POS system, a proper security system, investing in marketing, staff, and getting the right products.

The systems can cost you $25,000, but this is a one-time payment. It is much more essential to consider cannabis expenses.

Most dispensaries cannot grow their own marijuana, so you will have to buy it elsewhere.

The price per pound can vary significantly based on the product and strain you’re using. However, you should be prepared to pay around $1,500 per pound.

But, there is much more to running a cannabis business than simply paying for various products and systems.

You will also need a lot of partners and employees who will help you build it up.

What’s the biggest expense when opening a dispensary?

The most considerable expense will be the dispensary staff.

Depending on the size of the dispensary and average paycheck, this can go up to $200,000 or even more.

Given the sensitivity of the cannabis industry, you will probably need a legal team that can cost you around $50,000 on an annual level. Paying an accountant will be another cost.

Lastly, you should at least consider investing in dispensary advertising.

Although dispensary marketing is not as crucial as online cannabis marketing, it can still help you increase profits.

Depending on your advertising strategy, cannabis marketing can cost you several tens of thousands of dollars annually.


Hopefully, you’re already well aware of the answer to the question, “How much does it cost to open a dispensary.”

Opening a cannabis dispensary is a great business idea, no matter the costs.

These products are flying off the shelves, and it seems there is nothing that can reduce the demand.

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, we suggest that you at least explore this possibility.

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