How to Open a Dispensary in Nevada

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After decades of no tolerance for illicit substances, Nevada finally legalized cannabis in 2016. As of today, the application process has not begun, but the Nevada State Health Division is currently working around the clock to implement the state’s new program. Currently, registration certificates will be issued according to population per county. During this first phase, only qualified pharmacies are applicable for licenses to sell cannabis.

Estimated sales of recreational cannabis in Nevada are expected to reach 280 million by 2021. As such, you can expect competition for licenses to be fairly steep. So, what do you need to know about opening a cannabis dispensary in Nevada? Read on to find out!

Legalization in Nevada

Medical cannabis dispensaries were first authorized in June 2013 by Nevada governor Sandoval. The state legalized recreational cannabis in as part of a voter initiative in 2016.

Current regulations state that prospective cannabis entrepreneurs can apply for licenses starting in November 2018. The guidelines for Nevada cannabis businesses in Nevada include:

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

Number of Dispensaries Currently Operating in Nevada

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

County Population                                             Number of Dispensaries Allowed

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

Regulations state that there cannot be more than one dispensary per every 10 pharmacies in a county. However, each county may have at least one dispensary, even if less than 10 pharmacies are operating within city limits.

In counties with less than 100,000 residents, there cannot be more than 25% of available dispensaries in any one location.In counties of 100 to 700 thousand people, no one can possess more than one medical cannabis establishment registration certificate, or 10 of the county’s available registration certificates (whichever is greater).

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

What is My Expected Profit?

The Past and Expected Value of the Cannabis Market in Nevada:

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

Dispensary Owners’ Requirements

Cannabis retails stores can operate in Nevada, provided they comply with the rules we described above. Municipalities reserve the right to ban or place moratoriums on dispensary licenses if they do not comply with local laws.

License Requirements

Applicants can expect to hear back by early 2018. In the first year and a half since implementation of the adult use act, the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act states that only existing medical cannabis establishment certificate holders may apply for retail cannabis establishment licenses.

The application process is the same regardless of the type of cannabis business you want to open, be it a dispensary, a cultivation facility, an edible production facility or a cannabis testing lab.

License requirements

License requirements – Image powered by

Financial Requirements

Here are the fees associated with obtaining a cannabis 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 cannabis and cannabis products for medical and recreational consumers.

What Does the Average Dispensary 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.


There is no set time, it all depends on your proposed 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

Consulting Companies

These consulting companies can help you get started with your cannabis business. With their help, you can learn to navigate things such as, state licensing requirements, complete applications and run and stock their businesses.


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