Start A Marijuana Business

5 Things To Know When Starting Your Marijuana Business

Marijuana, also referred to as cannabis, is currently the fastest growing industry in the United States of America. While there are hundreds of ways to get involved in the industry, marijuana licenses to grow, sell and/or create marijuana-infused products have become the most coveted vertical in the industry.

In order to operate a marijuana business, you must be licensed by your respective state, in some cases you will also have to be licensed by the city or jurisdiction your facility is located in.

To start a marijuana business, you’ll need to obtain a license from your state through an application process. If you’re interested in doing so but don’t know where to start your planning, follow our steps below.

#1 – Understand your State’s Marijuana Program

Applicants need to understand that each state has different laws and regulations. For example, some states allow an unlimited number of marijuana businesses (like Oklahoma) and some states limit the number of marijuana businesses (like Missouri or Illinois). In addition to understanding marijuana laws and regulations, we suggest doing your due diligence to figure out if your state is currently accepting applications for licenses or not. Meaning, many licensing processes are done through a Request for Proposal or Request for Application process during specific dates and times.  Learn about your state’s program by selecting it on this page.

Fun Fact: New York only awarded 5 Medical Marijuana Business Licenses, while Denver, Colorado has more Medical Marijuana Facilities than Starbucks.

A great way to educate yourself on your state’s program and begin preparing for an application process is through our  Custom Marijuana Business Application Guide & Checklist. The guide provides a detailed checklist of all action items you’ll need to complete when applying for and establishing your business.

#2 – Know your Marijuana Business Type:

States often have different license types outlined in their program legislation, rules, and regulations. In order to determine what type of business you want to open, we’ve outlined some of the most popular license types below. These types of business are often referred to as “plant-touching” businesses.

  • Cultivation/Growing: Cultivates, dry, trim, or cure and package marijuana for sale to a processing or dispensary/retail facility. Read more about How To Start A Marijuana Grow/Cultivation Facility.
  • Processing/Manufacturing (Infused Marijuana Products): Obtains marijuana from authorized licensed facilities and extract resin from the marihuana or creates marihuana infused product for sale and transfer in packaged form to a dispensary/retail facility.
  • Dispensary/Retail Facility: Purchases marihuana from a cultivator or processor and sells, supplies, or provides marijuana to registered qualifying patients/caregivers or customers. Read more about How To Start A Dispensary/Retail Facility.
  • Distribution/Delivery: Transports marijuana between licensed marijuana facilities or from a licensed dispensary/retail facility to patients/caregivers/customers within the operating state.

*It’s important to note that not every state will have these four license types. Some states, such as Arizona, only have one license type that allows a licensee to cultivate, process, dispense, and transport all in one. These licenses are referred to as “vertically integrated” licenses. This is why “#1 – Understand your State’s Marijuana Program” is important. When you learn about your state’s program rules and regulations, you’ll learn about their licensing structure. After you are familiar with them, select which license you’ll be applying for. 

#3 – Build your Team

If you’re an individual, we suggest finding entrepreneurs, medical professionals, compliance/ regulated industry experience, community liaison, and if possible, marijuana industry experience. You may also want to consider establishing a diverse team (Veteran/Women/Minority Owned Businesses) as states have been implementing diversity bonus points in their programs.

#4 – Secure Real Estate

When looking for a viable location for your facility, you must consider state and city zoning laws for your type of business. Most zoning laws will require you to be at least 1,000 ft from a school, church or daycare center. For more real estate best practices, set up a consultation with one of our industry experts.

#5 – Know Your Budget and Raise $ Capital

You will need to consider state/city application fees to apply for your marijuana business license, state required proof of funds, and professional services (realtor, legal, architect, consultant etc.). These are just a few costs you will incur during an application process.


Learn More About How To Establish The Above With Our Educational Business Tools:

Marijuana Business Application GuideMarijuana Business Application Guide & Checklists
Our Downloadable Application Guides, roughly 50-pages, are designed as a detailed summary and checklist of all the action items you will need to complete prior to submission. From team building activities, financial modeling, inventory control, patient education, to real estate selection, to local lobbying and/or community efforts. Topics include Bill/Act/Law Recap; Organization Registration; Fees Schedule; Requirements, Prohibitions & Penalties; Marijuana Business Licensing Info (Dispensary, Cultivation, Processing, etc.); Program Timeline; Required and recommended Team Members; Real Estate Tasks; Financial Planning and More.
View Application Guides


Marijuana Business Starter PackageState-Specific Marijuana Business Starter Package
Educate yourself more on the application process and start drafting your plans with our State-Specific Marijuana Business Starter Package, which includes:
– An Informational Overview of your state’s marijuana laws
– An Application Guide & Checklist for an overview of all action items you’ll need to complete when applying for a marijuana business license
– A Business Plan Template to help you start drafting your required plans and executive summary
– A Financial Plan Template for a comprehensive 3-year projection of what you can expect when selling marijuana
View Starter Packages


Marijuana Business Plan Package

State Bundles – Marijuana Business Plan Template Packages
Our State Bundles include all of our available Business and Operations Plan Templates that are applicable to the state’s application process. All included template plans have been drafted from successful license application material and designed with subject-matter experts. All of the template plans are vertically integrated and not specific to any geographic region. You will be responsible for customizing the template plans to fit your market, business and state laws.
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Marijuana Business Plan TemplateMarijuana Business Plan Template
Our Downloadable Dispensary Business Plan Template is around 50 pages in length and is a comprehensive business plan that every entrepreneur interested in opening a dispensary and/or cultivation facility must have. This business plan is an essential document if you own or are going own a medical marijuana dispensary and/or cultivation facility. This business plan is also vital if you are applying for a dispensary permit or are interested in obtaining funding.
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Marijuana Business SecurityMarijuana Security Plan Template
Our Downloadable Dispensary Security Plan Template is around 25 pages in length. We have developed a comprehensive cultivation and dispensary Security Plan for the protection of your equipment, inventory, products, and more importantly, your people. There are added security challenges that medical marijuana facilities face, so our Security Plan considers many policies, procedures, and systems that provide sufficient protection.
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