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How to Open a Dispensary in Massachusetts

While medical marijuana became legal and available in Massachusetts in January 2013, recreational marijuana was passed in November 2016, allowing for limited possession and sale of cannabis for recreational use. 

Under the law, adults age 21 and older can now possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana within their residence, and up to one ounce outside of their residence. Use of marijuana in public is illegal in Massachusetts.

But the law expands beyond just possession; it allows for both cultivation and distribution. Adults age 21 and older are also allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants within their home, and they may also distribute up to one ounce of marijuana to another adult age 21 or older without receiving payment.

With the increased use of cannabis for medicinal purposes and the growth of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts, there is growing need for regulation around its cultivation and sale. 

Massachusetts requires cannabis dispensary applicants to submit a business plan with the application that identifies the cannabis construction firm in Massachusetts, or an outside state that they plan to have build their dispensary. Builders can be sourced from states outside of Massachusetts, but they must be licensed to build within the state.

Site-specific designs, as well as itemized budgets for each project, are required submissions with each application.

If you’re considering opening a cannabis dispensary in Massachusetts, or you’re applying for a Massachusetts dispensary license, contact us today to discuss how we can help meet your unique building needs. (Massachusetts cultivation licenses are different).

Cannabis businesses in Massachusetts are expanding, but the industry is highly regulated and presents a number of barriers to entry for eager entrepreneurs.

Whether you’re looking to open a recreational dispensary in Massachusetts or a marijuana treatment center, it’s important to understand the requirements to open a dispensary in Massachusetts and the costs involved to get your business operational.

How to apply for a dispensary license in Massachusetts

What is needed to open a dispensary in Massachusetts? There are several things you will need to take care of before successfully opening a Massachusetts dispensary.

If you’re looking to open a Massachusetts dispensary, one of your first steps should be to obtain a Massachusetts recreational license. 

To obtain a license, the first step is to decide on your location, and contact your municipality to address any specific laws in those areas. 

Each applicant must be ready to submit to a rigorous background check that will include but will not be limited to financial information.

You’ll also need to hold a community outreach meeting, and is another reason why it’s important to contact your municipality ahead of time. This meeting will address certain issues such as public safety and education around marijuana, how you’ll create a positive community impact and if you plan on hiring people from the local populace. 

After putting together your business plan, diversity plan, security plan and a plan to remain compliant with local codes and ordinances, you can submit your application online here.

The review process takes up to 90 days, and additional requirements are likely upon approval.

Since legalizing recreational marijuana in late 2016, and starting recreational cannabis sales in late 2018, the commonwealth of Massachusetts has issued nearly 700 licenses to sell marijuana recreationally within MA borders. 

While not all of these licenses have been used to open dispensaries, the business of recreational dispensaries is growing across the state, as more and more locations pop up, offering a range of edibles and other cannabis products for consumers. 

It’s no surprise, then, that many are looking to obtain a Massachusetts dispensary license to launch their own cannabis business. 

If you’re looking to get a dispensary license in Massachusetts, you will need to apply through the Cannabis Control Commission, which oversees the administration of licenses and governs the regulations surrounding the industry. 

No person can obtain more than three marijuana retailer licenses in Massachusetts.

As is the case with other states that allow for the sale of recreational cannabis products, individual localities have the right to regulate how – and if – recreational marijuana is sold within their boundaries. Localities may choose to limit sales within a certain area or they can ban the sale entirely. 

How much does it cost to open a dispensary in Massachusetts?

It is estimated that the cost to start up a dispensary in Massachusetts, or any state, can range from $300,000 to over $1 million. This can include the cost for applications and licensure, but also the cost for building a dispensary and obtaining the necessary insurance for your business. 

In Massachusetts, specifically, the fees associated with opening a dispensary and obtaining proper licensure for a brick-and-mortar store include: 

  • An application fee of $1,500
  • An annual fee of $10,000

These are just a few of the important considerations if you’re looking to open a dispensary in Massachusetts. The requirements for opening recreational dispensaries vary from state to state, and it’s important to hire a cannabis construction company in Massachusetts that understands the unique needs of working within your state.

At Grow America Builders, we have cannabis construction projects in over 18 states and understand the unique design and build needs for cannabis dispensaries, as well as how to navigate the legal requirements to build a dispensary in Massachusetts. 

Contact us today to see how we can design a solution for your cannabis business.