How to open a Dispensary in Pennsylvania

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Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program officially started in 2016. By voting Senate Bill 3 into law, Governor Tom Wolf made it easier for patients to obtain their medicine. The state’s medical cannabis program is expanding rapidly, and the number of existing dispensaries is expected to double after the legislation is finalized.

In this article, you can read more about the possible earnings in the marijuana market, as well as the financial and licensing requirements for starting a marijuana dispensary in Pennsylvania.

Cannabis Legislation in Pennsylvania

Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 3 into law on April 17th, 2016, legalizing medical cannabis in Pennsylvania. This new law allows qualified patients to utilize marijuana as an alternative form of treatment. It also allows for up to 25 Growers/Processors and 150 dispensaries to operate in the state.

when was cannabis made legal

The SB3 includes provisions for the medical use of cannabis in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It allows for the consumption and possession of medical marijuana for registered patients suffering from qualifying medical conditions.

Current status and marijuana market in Pennsylvania

In the first phase, the state will award 27 dispensary licenses. This number is set to increase to 50, with each one being able to expand to a max of 3 locations (so, an absolute maximum of 150 storefronts in the first allocation period). Currently, Pennsylvania has no dispensaries.

License requirements
License requirements – Image by

License requirements

Pennsylvania is one of the latest entries in the “legalized medical cannabis states” group. The law notably features some employee protections for patients. They also include PTSD on their list of 17 qualifying conditions. Special temporary regulations were previously issued that create a process for minors to get permission to obtain out-of-state cannabis and bring it into Pennsylvania; over 50 of these applications had been approved as of October 2016.

Currently, the state is limiting the number of dispensary licenses that they will distribute to 50 and also is not allowing a single person to have more than 5 permits. Each license grants owners the right to open up to 3 dispensaries under their name by submitting an initial nonrefundable application fee of $5,000.

Additionally, a fee of $30,000 for each location, must be submitted with the application. This fee will be returned if the permit is not granted. There is also an annual renewal fee of $5,000. You’ll also need to have plenty of money left over after paying these fees. The state requires proof of $150,000 in the applicant’s bank account before a license is granted.

Financial requirements

Financial requirements

The specific fees associated with opening a dispensary in Pennsylvania are as follows:

Fees for Dispensary licensees:

  • $5,000 non-refundable application fee
  • $30,000 registration fee – submit with application; refunded if not granted a license
  • $5,000 renewal fee
  • $150,000 required in capital by the Department on deposit with a financial institution
  • $250 relocation or modification of activities fee

Vertical integration – both Grower/Processor and Dispensary:

  • Must apply for each license separately, with each individual fee
  • Up to 5 vertically integrated entities may be licensed

Clinical Registration– Vertical integration with academic clinical research affiliation:

  • $15,000,000 required in capital by the Department

Note that all capital required by the Department must be verifiably available at the time of the application. All costs associated with preparing for the application, including early real estate costs, are added to these fees.

How much does a marijuana dispensary in Pennsylvania make?

Pennsylvania does not have any dispensaries yet, but experts are estimating that 2021’s medical sales will reach $227,400,000. Across the country, marijuana dispensaries generally bring anywhere from $50,000 a year up to millions.

Timeframe – Image by


Starting a business of any kind takes some time, and marijuana businesses are no different. Once you have secured your license (which could take some time depending on your circumstances) allow at least a year to get your business running.

Consulting Companies

Looking to start a marijuana dispensary in Pennsylvania? These marijuana consulting firms can help you understand state licensing requirements, complete your applications, and get your business up and running.

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