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How to Open a Dispensary in Kansas


When considering how to open a dispensary in Kansas, understanding the state’s unique legal landscape concerning marijuana regulation is essential. Unlike some other states, both medical and recreational use of marijuana remains illegal in Kansas. Therefore, staying informed about current regulations and potential changes is important. Given the dynamic nature of marijuana laws across the country, entrepreneurs looking to enter this industry in Kansas must keep up to date on any possible legislative shifts, as these could impact their business plans.

Understanding Kansas Marijuana Laws

In Kansas, the legislative approach to cannabis has evolved significantly over recent years, marked by a series of bills that reflect a gradual shift in policy. The shift began with the passage of SB 282 in 2018, which redefined “marijuana” in state law to exclude cannabidiol (CBD), thereby legalizing the possession and use of CBD products that do not contain THC. 

Following this, in 2019, Claire and Lola’s Law (SB 28) was enacted. This law offers an affirmative defense for possessing certain CBD oils with up to 5% THC, although it stops short of legalizing their sale or production and does not prevent arrest or charges for possession. 

House Bill 2244, passed the same year, permits the use of CBD products containing no more than 5% THC for treating debilitating medical conditions, provided there is a prescription from a licensed physician. The 2018 enactment of SB 282 and the 2019 introduction of SB 28 mark significant policy shifts. Despite these legislative advances, both medical and recreational cannabis remain illegal in Kansas as the state continues to enforce strict laws against cannabis, including products with low THC content. 

Ongoing Cannabis Legalization Efforts 

In 2023, Kansas witnessed significant legislative efforts to change its cannabis laws, focusing on both medical legalization and decriminalization. SB 171, known as the Veterans First Medical Cannabis Act, was introduced on February 7th to legalize medical marijuana for patients with qualifying conditions such as cancer and PTSD. This bill, targeting a three-month supply limit for patients, also proposes a 15% tax on sales to support veterans. As of February 8th, 2023, SB 171 has been referred to the Committee on Federal and State Affairs.

HB 2363, introduced on February 8th, 2023, aims at decriminalizing marijuana possession, focusing on releasing individuals convicted of marijuana offenses and expunging their records. HB 2363 has been referred to the Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice.

Meanwhile, SB 135, introduced on February 1st, 2023, seeks to regulate medical cannabis use, including a 10% tax on products and a regulatory framework under the Division of Alcohol and Cannabis Control with implementation rules to be established by January 1, 2025. However, on April 26th, 2024, the Kansas Senate voted down a motion to reconsider this bill, resulting in a 12–25 outcome. Despite support from Governor Laura Kelly and advocacy for medical benefits, persistent legislative resistance and concerns about crime and safety are stalling progress.

HB 2367, introduced on February 8th, 2023, proposes regulations for the adult use of marijuana, encompassing cultivation, manufacturing, and sales. Each bill represents a different aspect of cannabis reform, from medical use to broader adult use and decriminalization, indicating a shift in Kansas’s approach to cannabis legislation. As of March 28th, 2023, HB 2367 has been withdrawn from the Committee on Federal and State Affairs and referred to the Committee on Interstate Cooperation.

These recent efforts to legalize cannabis have yet to result in its legalization in the state.

The future of cannabis legislation in Kansas remains a topic of active discussion. As national trends increasingly lean towards legalization, Kansas is under pressure to reconsider its stance. However, significant changes in legislation will require overcoming long-standing opposition and navigating complex regulatory challenges.

A crucial survey conducted by Fort Hays State University revealed that a striking 70% of individuals in Kansas support ending the legislative opposition to bills related to recreational marijuana. Furthermore, a notable 67.2% support the sale of recreational marijuana to adults over 21 years old. This growing endorsement within Kansas is set against the backdrop of broader national trends, where 24 states, along with the District of Columbia, have embraced adult-use marijuana legalization. 

Despite significant public support for legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana, progress in Kansas has been blocked by opposition from key Republican leaders in the state Senate. This political standstill is particularly striking, given the survey’s revelation that 63.6% of Kansans are likely to support legislative candidates who favor medical marijuana legalization. 

On February 28th, 2024, Senate President Ty Masterson revealed plans to introduce a medical marijuana bill aimed at establishing a pilot program. This initiative mirrors growing public support and neighboring states’ policies, targeting the regulation of medical cannabis use for specific severe conditions under the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s oversight until 2032. It represents a significant shift in Kansas’ policy towards providing regulated access to medical cannabis for individuals with severe medical conditions, indicating a broader move towards embracing cannabis for therapeutic purposes. 

On March 28th, 2024, the Kansas Senate committee postponed the decision on a medical marijuana bill, Senate Bill 555 (SB 555), until the 2025 legislative session. The bill, which proposes a five-year pilot program for medical marijuana, has faced opposition from various groups. Pro-cannabis activists argue that the bill’s limitations, such as few providers and a high consumption age, do not adequately meet patient needs. Law enforcement officials fear it may lead to recreational marijuana and increase crime. Meanwhile, supporters from the hemp industry and military veterans advocate for the bill as a medical alternative to prescription narcotics. 

On May 7th, 2024, a new coalition was formed in Kansas to support legislative candidates advocating for the legalization of recreational cannabis and the expungement of past cannabis-related offenses. Despite strong public support, with over 67% in favor of legalizing recreational cannabis, the state’s laws have remained strict and inconsistent. The initiative emphasizes the misuse of law enforcement resources and the potential medical and economic benefits of legalization. The coalition aims to educate the public on the advantages of legal cannabis, countering the outdated negative stereotypes often portrayed in the media.

Local Cannabis Restrictions and Laws

In Kansas, marijuana possession is generally treated as a misdemeanor, with penalties including up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for first-time offenses. However, possession of larger amounts (450 grams or more) is presumed for distribution purposes. It is classified as a felony, attracting harsher penalties such as probation or imprisonment for up to 42 months and fines of up to $100,000. The sale and distribution of marijuana are treated more stringently, with penalties escalating based on the amount sold; for instance, selling less than 25 grams is a felony with potential imprisonment up to 51 months and fines up to $300,000, and this scales up to 204 months in prison and a $500,000 fine for sales of 30 kilograms or more. 

Cultivation of marijuana is also a felony, with penalties increasing with the number of plants involved. Interestingly, Kansas law exempts CBD products containing zero percent THC from its criminal definition of marijuana, making them legal to possess and sell. The state also has provisions for conditional release or alternative sentencing for first-time offenders, potentially allowing probation instead of trial. Additionally, Kansas enforces a marijuana tax stamp law, requiring those who possess marijuana to affix state-issued stamps to the contraband, with penalties for non-compliance. The article also touches on drugged driving laws and the state’s approach to low-THC cannabis extracts for medical use, highlighting the complexity and nuances of marijuana legislation in Kansas.

Kansas Cannabis Business Opportunities

Kansas does not have a legal framework for cannabis business licensing, as the state has not legalized marijuana for either recreational or medical use. However, the situation regarding cannabis legalization and regulation can change rapidly. 

Should the legal status of cannabis change in Kansas, there would be a range of business opportunities to explore. These could include:

  1. Cultivation: The growing of cannabis plants, which would be fundamental to the industry, offers opportunities for both large-scale and boutique growers.
  2. Retail Dispensaries: If medical marijuana is legalized, there would be a need for regulated dispensaries to distribute the product to patients.
  3. Ancillary Services: These include legal services, marketing, packaging, and technology solutions tailored to the cannabis industry.
  4. Medical Research and Development: Legalization for medical use could spur opportunities in the research and development of cannabis-based medical products.

We will continue to monitor these developments closely and update this section with any new information as it becomes available.


Even though many people in Kansas support making both medical and recreational marijuana legal, the state’s laws are still very strict. Important Republican leaders in the Senate are against laws that would legalize marijuana, leading to a big gap between what people want and what the government is doing. This issue is especially important as Kansas gets closer to the 2024 elections, which might bring big changes to the state’s political scene.

For entrepreneurs aspiring to enter the cannabis industry in Kansas, it is crucial to actively engage with the evolving legal landscape. Understanding the current restrictions on cannabis, including penalties for possession, sale, and cultivation, is also vital. As the state deals with shifting opinions and possible changes in the laws, people who want to open dispensaries should get ready by learning a lot, making connections, and ensuring their business plans fit with the state’s rules. 

As Kansas continues to develop its cannabis program and key events unfold that will shape the future of marijuana legalization, staying informed becomes crucial. We will keep you informed about any important news related to establishing a dispensary in Kansas. By subscribing to our Kansas Cannabis Mailing List (below), you’ll receive all the essential and sometimes hard-to-find updates and information about cannabis legalization in Kansas. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • What are the most recent developments regarding the legalization of cannabis in Kansas?
  • When will applications for new cannabis licenses be available?
  • What special programs will be offered?
  • And more