How to open a Dispensary in Nevada

Nevada is one of the most exciting prospects for marijuana entrepreneurs since Governor Brian Sandoval signed a bill that legalized recreational marijuana in 2016. The application process has not started as of yet, but the Nevada State Health Division is hard at work implementing the state’s marijuana program. As things stand, registration certificates will be issued according to population per county. In the first phase of implementation, only qualified pharmacies will be able to apply for a recreational marijuana license.

Estimated sales of recreational cannabis in Nevada are expected to reach $280,000,000 by 2021, so the competition for licenses is going to be fierce. Read on to learn more about how to start a marijuana dispensary in Nevada as well as the state’s financial and licensing requirements for prospective medical cannabis business owners.

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    When was cannabis made legal in Nevada
    When was cannabis made legal in Nevada – Image powered by

    Medical marijuana dispensaries were first authorized in June 2013 by Nevada governor Sandoval. The state legalized recreational marijuana as of November 8th, 2016.

    Current regulations state that prospective cannabis entrepreneurs can apply for licenses starting November 2018, at the earliest. The guidelines of this bill, which became effective January 1, 2017, have provisions for:

    • Retail marijuana stores (dispensaries, deliveries, etc.)
    • Marijuana product manufacturers
    • Marijuana cultivators
    • Marijuana testing facilities
    • Marijuana distributors

    How many dispensaries are there currently in the state

    The monitoring agency for Nevada’s marijuana program is the Nevada State Health Division. It allows limited numbers of registration certificates per county, according to population:

    County Population                                             Number of Dispensaries Permitted

    700,000 or more people
    (includes Clark County)                                                              40

    100,000 to less than 700,000 people
    (includes Washoe County)                                                         10

    55,000 to less than 100,000 people                                          2

    0 to less than 55,000 people                                                       1

    How many dispensaries are there currently in the state
    How many dispensaries are there currently in the state – Image powered by

    Regulations state that there cannot be more than one dispensary per 10 pharmacies in any given county. However, each county may have at least one dispensary, even if less than 10 pharmacies are in operation within its limits.

    In counties with less than 100,000 residents, there cannot be more than 25% of available dispensaries in any one locality unless local needs suggest otherwise. Also, in counties of 100,000-700,000 people, no one can possess multiple medical marijuana establishment registration certificates or 10 of the county’s available registration certificates (whichever is greater).

    Currently, there are 66 dispensary licenses allowed. 47 have been issued, and 52 are operational.

    How much money is there in the dispensary market

    With regards to the marijuana market in Nevada, the numbers speak for themselves:

    • Medical Sales for 2016: $75,600,000
    • Estimated Medical Sales for 2021: $150,400,000
    • Adult Use Sales for 2016: $0
    • Estimated Adult Use Sales for 2021: $282,200,000

    Dispensary Owner requirements

    Marijuana retails stores can open in Nevada, provided they comply with the rules we described above. Municipalities reserve the right to ban or place moratoriums on the license of dispensaries if they do not comply with local regulations.

    License requirements

    The recreational marijuana program will begin issuing licenses to retailers by early 2018. For the first 18 months, the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act states that only existing medical marijuana establishment certificate holders may apply for a retail marijuana establishment license.

    The application processes are the same regardless of the type of marijuana business you want to open, whether it is a dispensary, cultivation facility, edible marijuana production facility or testing lab.

    marijuana licensed requirements
    License requirements

    Financial requirements

    Here are the fees associated with obtaining a marijuana business license:

    Facility                                                                   Registration Fee                                       Renewal fee
    Medical Cannabis Dispensary                                   $30,000                                                  $5,000
    Medical Cannabis Cultivation Facility                    $3,000                                                     $1,000
    Cannabis Product Manufacturer                              $3,000                                                     $1,000
    Testing Lab                                                                   $5,000                                                     $3,000

    Nevada is imposing a 2% excise tax on both the wholesale and retail sale of marijuana and marijuana products for medical and recreational consumers.

    How much does a marijuana dispensary in Nevada make?

    As the numbers above show, dispensaries in Nevada can make lots of money. Many dispensaries and delivery services bring in anywhere from $50,000 a year. Some earn significantly more – millions or even tens of millions of dollars.


    How long it takes to start a cannabis business can vary based on location; however, it can often take a year or more to complete necessary steps such as getting finances in order, acquiring the necessary licenses, and securing suppliers and employees.

    Timeframe – Image powered by

    Looking to start a marijuana dispensary in Nevada? These consulting companies can help you get started. They can help new owners navigate state licensing requirements, complete applications and run and stock their businesses.

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