How to open a Dispensary in New Jersey

New Jersey patients overcame limited resources and political adversity in their battle to obtain medical marijuana. Now it welcomes recreational marijuana as well.

The process for opening a recreational dispensary starts by obtaining the proper licenses. Many experts believe initial licenses will go to medical dispensary owners. There are also plans to license cultivators, manufacturers, wholesalers, and delivery businesses. Recreational licenses will be available beginning in March 2022. Until we know more, this article covers the basics for starting an Alternative Treatment Center in New Jersey.

Download the free marijuana grow guide and start growing high-quality strains

New Jersey legalized medical marijuana use for registered patients in 2010, provided they qualify for one of the listed medical conditions.

Alternative Treatment Centers (aka dispensaries) can distribute and supply patients with medical marijuana. The New Jersey medical cannabis program is regulated by the Department of Health.

New Jersey has a reputable medical dispensary structure, with twelve ATCs currently in operation. In 2020, voters passed a measure legalizing recreational marijuana. The guidelines around recreational dispensaries are still in development.

How many dispensaries are there currently in the state

Applications for medical marijuana businesses opened in January of 2011.  The Department of Health managed the process and identified six ATC applicants.  Those legal entities were:

  • Greenleaf Compassion Center
  • Foundation Harmony
  • Breakwater ATC
  • Garden State Dispensary
  • Compassionate Science ATC, Inc.
  • Compassionate Care Foundation, Inc.

It is still unclear how many recreational dispensaries will open in New Jersey. However, many expect the number to be large due to demand. New Jersey also plans to license microbusinesses (those with 10 employees or less). In 2021, New Jersey will be the only state in the greater NYC area with legal adult-use marijuana.

How much money is there in the dispensary market

How much money is there in the dispensary market
How much money is there in the dispensary market

Medical sales for 2016 amounted to $31,000,000 while estimated sales for 2021 are expected to reach $52,500,000.

License requirements

The medical dispensary application period is currently closed. However, that doesn’t mean that you should let your guard down. Applications for the recreational marijuana program open on March 15, 2022.

Prior to these new rules, New Jersey started accepting applications for legal medical cannabis businesses under guidelines enacted as of January 18th, 2010. However, the procedure for prospective business owners closed in March of 2011.

The current regulations allow for:

  • Medical Marijuana Dispensaries (aka Alternative Treatment Centers)
  • Medical Marijuana Growers
  • Medical Marijuana Processors

Financial requirements

Below are the fees associated with the application and licensing of a medical marijuana business in New Jersey, as of March 2011:

Application Fee:

  • Alternative Treatment Center (ATC) Application Fee: $2,000
  • Patient Registration Fees: $200 (valid for 2 years)
  • Caregiver Registration Fees: $200 (valid for 2 years)
Financial requirements
Financial requirements

Licensing Fees:

  • Alternative Treatment Center (“ATC”) license fee: $18,000 (check must be submitted with the application, but will be destroyed if the application is denied).
  • ATC annual permit renewal application fee: $20,000.
  • ATC Change of location fee: $10,000.
  • ATC modification of premises fee: $2,000.
  • Transfer of ownership fee: $20,000.
Avatar for Alice



Need to know the latest and greatest of marijuana news? Alice has you covered! She loves to travel all around the globe and m ... See profile

9 comments on “How to open a Dispensary in New Jersey”

  1. need info on starting up a dispensary and do you grow your own marijuana or buy from a grower. which is more economical.

    • Hi Isaac,

      If you can do both this would be most economical. But you’ll need more capital to start both simultaneously. You may want to start off with a small grow room, and supplement with buds sources elsewhere.
      If your business starts growing you can expand into a more serious grow-op.
      I suppose it depends greatly on how much investment money you have to start this up.


  2. What’s the process now for opening up a dispensary in NJ? The legalization for recreational use goes into effect in January, so how should one go about starting in this business now?