How to open a Dispensary in Washington, D.C.

May 1, 2019

In November of 2014, Washington, D.C. legalized both medical and recreational cannabis. However, the application process for marijuana dispensary business licenses within Washington, D.C. is currently closed. As a result, the dispensary and delivery system in the state is limited, with only a handful of businesses in operation.

In this article, We’ll explain the necessary documents and financial requirements to open a new marijuana dispensary in Washington, D.C., should the application process open up once again in the future.

When was cannabis made legal

 When was cannabis made legal
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Medical and recreational cannabis in Washington, D.C. were legalized on November 4th, 2014, when Initiative 71 was approved by voters. As of now, there are five cultivation centers and three dispensaries in operation that were awarded licenses to grow and sell marijuana. The marijuana program is regulated and monitored by The Department of Health. So far, they have not made any announcements regarding the reopening of the application process for licensing.

How many dispensaries are there in the state

Washington, D.C. licensed a very limited number of dispensaries and cultivation centers in 2013/2014. For now, the license application process is closed. Three dispensaries and five cultivators are in operation as of now. There is no word as to if or when Washington, D.C. would once again be open to applications.

How much money is there in the dispensary market

Money in the dispensary market
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D.C. has a steady customer base of about 100,000 people. According to the Department of Health Regulation and Licensing Administration, there are also 5,219 registered medical patients in the district. Buyers typically spend an average of about $1,000 a year on marijuana, so the rather small Washington D.C. is looking at a million-dollar market.

The status of medical marijuana

Conditions that qualify for medical marijuana license are Alzheimer’s Disease, HIV or AIDS Cachexia or wasting syndrome, Glaucoma, Cancer, Cirrhosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Seizure disorders, or other chronic and debilitating conditions.

Dispensary Owner requirements

The application process is currently closed. Opening a dispensary in Washington D.C. relies entirely on the local authorities, as the state gives local municipalities the freedom to ban or annul the license of marijuana businesses.

In case the application window does open up again, it is important to note that the D.C. Marijuana Business Application Process requires that you have a complete business & financial plan in place when submitting a license application.

Financial requirements for dispensary business

Financial requirements
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A person applying to have a potential marijuana retail business would have to pay an annual registration fee of $10,000, plus an initial application processing fee of $5,000. Another $10,000 is required for dispensaries that grow their own marijuana.

There are also fees regarding employees. Annual registration per each director, officer, member, incorporator, or agent registration is required and costs $200 each, while the yearly fee for employee registration is $75, and the yearly fee for a manager’s license is $150. For delivery services, the fee for a transport permit is around $25.

License requirements

Currently, no new licenses are being issued by the state. Local laws may dictate specific rules and regulations for businesses there, so be sure to research a local municipality in case applications are once again being accepted.

How much does a marijuana dispensary in Washington D.C.make?

Marijuana dispensaries generally make anywhere from $50,000 a year up to millions and Washington DC is no exception.


Even if Washington DC were allowing new applications, it would take a while to start a cannabis business. Thanks to the high start-up cost, numerous licenses, and the tedious process of securing suppliers and employees expect at least a year before money starts flowing.

Links to consulting companies that can help open a dispensary in Washington D.C.

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Looking to start a marijuana dispensary in Washington D.C.? The consulting companies can explain the requirements.

Marijuana stays in the news, and Alice is always ready to keep us updated. A world traveler and lover of freedom, Alice knows what is going on, no matter where she roams. She specializes in marijuana legalization stories across the globe, with up to date... [read more]


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