How to Open a Dispensary in Pennsylvania

Cannabis is quickly being legalized on a state-by-state basis in the US. To date, 11 states and Washington, DC have legalized adult-use, and 33 states have legalized medical cannabis. Pennsylvania is one of the states where medical cannabis is legal. The process that took effect in April 2016 under Governor Tom Wolf, who signed Senate Bill 3 to allow the legal consumption of medical cannabis.

In the state of Pennsylvania, medical marijuana is only allowed to be sold in licensed dispensaries, which must go through the proper channels in order to open up shop. However, only a limited number of licenses are currently being issued to those who qualify. Anyone looking to capitalize on this growing market and open a cannabis dispensary in Pennsylvania will need to take the required steps in order to be eligible in the state. Here are some things to consider before opening a dispensary in the Keystone State.

Cannabis Dispensary License Application Requirements in Pennsylvania

There are a number of medical cannabis dispensaries operating in the state of Pennsylvania. When Senate Bill 3 passed, up to 25 marijuana grower licenses and 50 dispensary licenses were created and would be granted to applicants in the state to serve only registered patients who suffer from eligible medical conditions. Once an applicant is granted a dispensary license, they are allowed to open as many as three locations, bringing the statewide total to a potential 150 different dispensary locations. 

Those who wish to open a dispensary in the state of Pennsylvania must follow certain license requirements, and many of them relate to the applicant’s financial health. Currently, Pennsylvania is not only limiting the number of licenses that it issues but does not permit a single individual to have more than five permits. As mentioned, each license allows dispensary owners to open three dispensaries in different locations under their name. To begin the process, dispensary owners must put forth a $5,000 non-refundable application fee upon submission, with another $30,000 fee or each location they wish to open. Unlike the initial $5,000, the latter of the fees will be refunded if the application is rejected. Further, an annual fee of $5,000 is also required to be paid if a license is granted, and proof will need to be provided to state officials that $150,000 in capital is accessible in the applicant’s bank account before the license is issued.

Once a cannabis dispensary is open, it’s important for owners to ensure that only customers who have the legal right to obtain medical marijuana can make purchases in these dispensaries. Since only medical marijuana is currently legal in Pennsylvania, only patients with eligible ailments and the appropriate medical marijuana cards are allowed to enter dispensaries. Today, there are 23 qualifying conditions that allow patients to obtain medical marijuana to alleviate their symptoms, including PTSD, multiple sclerosis, autism, cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, and HIV/AIDS, among others. 

Determine Whether or Not You’re Allowed to Open a Marijuana Dispensary

There are a limited number of licenses that are being handed out in Pennsylvania, and not everyone will qualify for one. In Pennsylvania, certain entities and individuals are not allowed to obtain a medical marijuana dispensary license, including doctors, anyone who has previously been in violation of the Medical Marijuana Act in the state, anyone who has previously dealt with addiction, and anyone with a prior drug charge or conviction. Some public executives may also be ineligible for a dispensary license in Pennsylvania. Government officials want to ensure that license applicants have “good moral character” before a license is granted to legally operate a dispensary in the state. 

Earning Potential of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Pennsylvania

The cannabis industry is rapidly expanding in the United States, totaling $52 billion in sales this year and estimates of reaching as high as $77 billion by 2022. The number of employment opportunities that marijuana is creating is also impressive, with 250,000 people employed in the industry. It’s estimated that the cannabis industry could grow to over 330,000 jobs by the year 2022. Not only that, but the median salary in the cannabis industry salary is over 10% higher than the median salary in the US.

The PA medical marijuana industry has high potential, exceeding $132 million based on 600,000 transactions in its first year since legalization. The global compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is expected to remain at 23.9% through 2025. 

Final Thoughts

Based on the growth, it appears as though the marijuana industry in Pennsylvania – and in the US as a whole – is a very lucrative market that can provide entrepreneurs with an opportunity to take advantage of a growing industry. More and more cannabis companies and growers are popping up all over the country, and a rapidly expanding consumer base is showing the incredible demand for cannabis products, both for adult-use and medical purposes. Considering this, getting into the cannabis business may be a highly profitable opportunity for some who can see the potential of this industry in the near future and over the long run. 

That said, familiarize yourself with the laws surrounding the operation of a medical marijuana dispensary in Pennsylvania, and gather the necessary funds and resources needed to both apply for and operate a successful cannabis dispensary in the state.

The state is currently not accepting applications at this time as of September 10th, 2020. By adding yourself to our Pennsylvania Cannabis Mailing List (below), we will keep you informed when the state starts accepting applications. We will also keep you up to date on all relevant updates on how to open a dispensary in Pennsylvania.


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