How Much Does It Cost to Open a Dispensary in California?

A cannabis dispensary is an example of a business that has relatively little precedent when it comes to forming a business plan. While a dispensary might have a relatively large demand, the relatively difficult task of building a company that mainly sells cannabis makes the market harder to enter if you don't know what you are doing. Combined with the fact that it is already difficult to get a small business off the ground in the first place doing a bit of research beforehand is definitely warranted, so here are a few pieces of information to keep in mind starting out.

The laws that dictate how you are allowed to sell cannabis can be a major hindrance if you don't know what to expect. A license to cultivate and sell cannabis can be very expensive depending on how you plan on running your business, but given that California is the state that appears to make the most money from cannabis in the United States you might find that running the business might be a worthwhile investment nonetheless. Given that the laws that govern cannabis businesses are a "work in progress," though, you need to make sure to stay on top of recent legal developments that affect your business. Even within California, cannabis laws are different between counties. For these reasons, if you are anything less than certain that your business will meet the legal requirements that face a cannabis dispensary you should probably seek the assistance of a marijuana business lawyer in California.

How you grow your marijuana is going to affect how much it will cost to run your business as well. If you are planning on growing marijuana indoors, for example, you can expect to need a different kind of license than if you were growing it outdoors. The number of plants is important, too, but the kind of license you need is mainly affected by the square footage of the area that you plan on using for cultivation. Also worth noting is that some kinds of licenses are limited by the FDA or not available until 2023.


Given that there are multiple ways to consume cannabis, there are laws governing the consumption of its various forms as well. The bottom line here is that you should generally try not to encourage public, underage, or dangerous use of cannabis and manufacture your goods accordingly. One law, in particular, forbids products "concentrated cannabis with a volatile solvent (except for state-licensed manufacturers)," so if you put up some CBD isolate for sale in the form of things like vape cartridges or pain creams you should make sure that all of their ingredients are safe for consumer use.

As far as the hard numbers go, a marijuana business can expect to need between $80,000 and $250,000 to start out with, and the monthly cost of upkeep can be up to $70,000. You should additionally factor in how much you need to pay your employees, with $35,000 per year being a reasonable ballpark to work with while making your initial calculations.

Marijuana businesses are inevitably going to face a larger number of difficulties than other kinds of businesses. The startup cost is inherently higher as a result of legal licenses and regulations, such business might be subject to additional taxes, and you can only sell to certain age groups of people that change depending on what kind of dispensary that you run. The laws governing the Californian sale and use of marijuana are constantly changing and no one source of information is going to be accurate forever, so it is ultimately up to you to do the legwork when it comes to making sure your business is successful.