How to Open a Dispensary in Washington, D.C.

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Washington, D.C. legalized both medical and recreational cannabis In November of 2014. Unfortunately, at the moment no applications are being accepted. As a result, the dispensary and delivery system in the state is limited, with only a handful of businesses in operation.

In the event that Washington D.C. does reopen their application process, you should know all the ins and outs. We’ll take a closer look at the necessary documents and financial requirements to open a dispensary.

Legalization in Washington D.C.

Medical and recreational cannabis in Washington, D.C. were legalized on November 4th, 2014, through voter initiative 71. As of now, there are five cultivation centers and three dispensaries currently in operation. D.C.’s cannabis program is both regulated and monitored by health department. So far, there have not been any announcements concerning the reopening of the application process.

How Many Dispensaries in DC?

Washington, D.C. licensed a very limited number of dispensaries and cultivation centers during  2013/2014. As mentioned before, the number of licenses doled out is limited, and the license application process is closed. There are a total of three dispensaries and five cultivators that are in operation as of now. There is no word as to if or when the district will reopen the application process.

What is the DC Cannabis Market Worth?

Money in the dispensary market

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D.C. has a steady customer base of about 100,000 people. According to the Department of Health Regulation and Licensing Administration, there are also 5,219 registered medical patients currently residing in the district. Customer typically spend quite a bit on their cannabis. It’s usually a yearly average of about $1,000 a year. As a result, the seemingly small Washington D.C. is looking more and more at a million-dollar market.

Qualifying Conditions for a Medical Card

Conditions that qualify for medical cannabis are as follows: Alzheimer’s Disease, HIV or AIDS,Cachexia or wasting syndrome, GlaucomaCancer, Cirrhosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Seizure disorders, or other chronic and debilitating conditions.

Dispensary Owner’s Requirements

Opening a dispensary in Washington D.C. relies entirely on the local law enforcement, as the district gives local municipalities the freedom to ban or annul the license of any cannabis businesses.

it is important to note that the D.C. Marijuana Business Application Process requires each applicant to have a complete business & financial plan in place when submitting a license application.

Financial Requirements

Applicants and dispensary owners are expected to pay an annual registration fee of $10,000, plus the initial application processing fee of $5,000. Another $10,000 is required for dispensaries that also grow their own cannabis.

In addition to those, there is an annual registration fee per each director, officer, member, incorporator, or agent registration and costs $200 each, while the yearly fee for employee registration is $75, and the yearly fee for a manager’s license is $150. For delivery services, the fee for a transport permit is around $25.

License Requirements

Currently, no new licenses are being issued by Washington D.C. Local laws, as well as rules and regulations may differ depending on the area. A;ways be sure to research a local municipality.

What is My Expected Profit?

Dispensaries in D.C. generally make anywhere from $50,000 a year up to millions.


The process takes quite a long time. Thanks to things like the high start-up cost, numerous licenses required, and the tedious process of securing suppliers and employees, you can expect at least a year before you begin seeing a return.

Consulting Companies


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The following consulting companies can explain the requirements for opening a dispensary in D.C.



  1. Michelle Williams on

    I’m interested in learning more, so I can develop my business plan in preparation to become a dispensary in DC when the opportunity permits.

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