How to open a Dispensary in Maryland

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Last year, Maryland completed the first round of medical cannabis dispensary license applications procedure. Over 1,000 applicants competed for a total of 102 licenses. Approved candidates are now in phase 2 of the process, where they will be called to submit further details of their business plan.

Needless to say, it will be tough to break into the business in the state at this point, but just in case, let’s look at the process of starting a marijuana dispensary in Maryland.

When was cannabis made legal

Cannabis Legislation

The state of Maryland legalized medical marijuana on April 14th, 2014, when the governor signed the bills HB 991 and SB 923. The monitoring agency of the state’s medical cannabis program is the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.

There are three different types of cannabis business licenses available for the current application period – dispensing, growing and processing medical cannabis. The application deadline was Nov 6th, 2015. License awardees were announced late 2016, and they will now go through further qualification steps before they may set up shop.

How many dispensaries are there in the state

Maryland is currently on course to set up a dispensary system. The first stage of licensure has closed and businesses that were successful are now undergoing an approval process.

During the first round of the application process, a total of 1081 applications were submitted to the Commission, of which a total of 132 were approved: 102 of those were dispensaries.

How much money is there in the Maryland cannabis market
How much money is there in the Maryland cannabis market

How much money is there in the Maryland cannabis market

The Maryland medical cannabis patient base counts more than 22,000 people, while projected sales until 2021 are expected to reach $46,000,000. Adult sales in the same year are expected to be around the $610,000,000 mark.

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License requirements for Dispensary owners

After obtaining a pre-approval, successful applicants will move to the second phase of the process. During this step, they will be required to produce an audited financial statement and payment of the stage 2 application fee of $4,000. They’ll also need to provide a personal identification of a dispensary agent, fingerprints for the Central Registry, and a criminal background check.

That’s only part of it. Applicants must also prove that proposed facilities are under their control, ensure compliance with zoning and conform to the previously agreed-upon specifications.

Financial requirements

The costs associated with a dispenser license are as follows:

  • Stage Two application fee (for two applications): $8,000
  • Bi-annual licensing fee for growing (every other year): $250,000
  • Bi-annual licensing fee for dispensing (every other year): $80,000


At this point, there is no clear guideline on how long it will take to start a marijuana dispensary in Maryland if you aren’t already in the process of doing so. In addition to the two-step process detailed above, applicants must also plan on raising capital, potential construction of facilities, and installation of equipment and systems as well as hiring and training staff.
As a rule of thumb, it is a good idea to allow at least a year after receiving your license to get your business up and running.


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