How to Open a Dispensary in Arizona

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In 2010 Arizona passed  Proposition 203, which legalized medical cannabis for all qualifying patients. Marking a sign post moment in Arizona history, the measure passed by a thin margin of only 1 percent.

Qualifying patients must have medical conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cachexia (wasting syndrome), severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, post-traumatic stress disorder, and more.

What Kind of Cannabis Business Can you Start in Arizona?

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) licenses those who want to process, produce, test, and/or sell medical cannabis and medical cannabis products. It went into effect on August 7, 2012. Ninety eight applicants, selected by random lottery, were granted licenses. As of 2016, 99 medical marijuana dispensaries operate in the state of Arizona.

Cannabis businesses can you start in Arizona

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Arizona currently licenses:

  • Retail marijuana stores
  • Marijuana product manufacturers
  • Marijuana cultivators
  • Marijuana distributors
  • Marijuana extraction services

Just How Big is Arizona’s Cannabis Market?

In 2015 86 thousand patients were registered to use cannabis medicinally. Of these 86 thousand, 77% were registered as chronic pain patients. In 2016, Arizona approved additional patients for the medical cannabis program, bringing the total number to nearly 115 thousand.

In November 2015, dispensaries sold 3,400 pounds of cannabis for medical purposes as well as an additional 300 pounds of other medical cannabis products. Unfortunately in 2016, a ballot initiative to legalize adult use, aka recreational cannabis failed to pass.

Arizona is frequently referred to as one of the fastest-growing cannabis markets in the US. By the end of 2014, the market was worth nearly $155 million.

Owner’s Requirements

Local laws for dispensary owners can vary from county to county. As always, it is a good idea to make sure you are aware of your local laws.

Licensing Requirements

License requirements

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Individuals that apply as board members for a cannabis business license must first be able to provide evidence that they’ve been Arizona residents for three years prior to the application date. Applicants cannot be involved with more than one dispensary. The Arizona Department of Health will take issue if your name is listed on more than one dispensary registration certificate application for a CHAA or more than five dispensary registration certificate applications.

Dispensaries are required to employ a doctor licensed to practice within the state. To ensure proper distribution of dispensaries throughout the state, the ADHS will prioritize licensing in counties where a dispensary does not currently operate.

Financial Requirements

Financial requirements can vary, but here is a general break down of assorted fees and other expenses you may come across.

  • Dispensary Registration: $5,000
  • Dispensary Registration renewal: $1,000
  • Change of Location of Dispensary: $2,500
  • Change of Location of Cultivation or addition of cultivation site: $2,500
  • Dispensary Agent Registry Identification Card: $500
  • Dispensary Agent Registry Identification Card Renewal: $500
  • Amendment or Change to Registry Card: $10
  • Replacement Registry Card: $10

What are My Expected Profits?

Arizona is often referred to as having the fastest growing cannabis industry in the country. You can expect to make millions of dollars annually.

 Consulting Companies

The following companies provide a wide range of services that will help you get your business off the ground.


1 Comment

  1. Jacqueline Herrera on

    How often do they issue more licenses to be assigned? Is the limit met for the state of Arizona? Do they allow new applicants every year?

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