How to open a dispensary in DC

How to open a dispensary in DC?

Although you cannot legally buy marijuana in the District of Columbia, it is legal to smoke it. You can buy marijuana for medical purposes, but not for recreational use. The peculiar legal status of weed in D.C. as a product of the U.S. Constitution is the cause of this peculiar circumstance.

The District of Columbia’s laws are governed by Congress.

In America, the District of Columbia holds a unique position. The capital of the country is housed there. According to Article I Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, it was established to be independent of all other states and subject to congressional control. It was not initially able to rule itself, had no voting privileges, and had no congressional representation.

The residents of D.C. have had to fight hard since the city’s founding in order to obtain their rights. The District didn’t have the ability to choose its own mayor and legislative body until the Home Rule Act was passed in 1973. Nevertheless, Congress continues to monitor District laws and has the power to prevent laws from going into force. And they did so after the District of Columbia legalised marijuana for both medicinal and recreational use.

Legality of weed in the District of Columbia

Legality of weed in the District of Columbia

Congress finally ceased opposing the District’s marijuana regulations, although it took a while. In the District of Columbia, residents can now legally produce their own marijuana for recreational use and purchase it through the medicinal marijuana system.

Recreational cannabis is still not allowed to be sold in stores. But as long as you don’t get paid, get something in return, or get a service in return for it, you can give or donate marijuana to someone. T-shirts, mugs, and other goods are now being sold in the District together with a “gift” of marijuana by enterprising locals.

No storefronts are present. Sales are scheduled at specific locations. While giving marijuana to someone is allowed, breaking the law by selling additional products can happen very quickly. These kinds of acts have resulted in arrests.

Information about marijuana laws and dispensaries

herbal dispensary

You are permitted to start a medical marijuana dispensary but not a retail establishment. The rules and laws for starting a medical marijuana dispensary in the District of Columbia are listed below in brief.

Statutes that need to be considered 


  • District of Columbia Laws
  • Medical Marijuana Program: (DC Code section 7-1671.05)
  • Municipal Regulations: (22 DCMR C sections 100 -9900)
  • Dispensaries Centers: (DC Code sections 7-1671.06)
  • Federal Law

Controlled Substance Act: 

Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, as is the use of marijuana on federal lands. This becomes important when you consider that 29% of D.C. is under federal control.

General Information

  • Dispensaries that sell medical marijuana must register with the mayor.
  • The DC Health department oversees the authorization and registration of medical marijuana.
  • Within the District, only five dispensaries are allowed.
  • Only one medicinal marijuana dispensary may be registered under a single owner.

Application Method

  • You must be of good character, be over 21, have never been convicted of a felony, and not be a physician (22 DCMR C section 5400.1) in order to qualify generally.
  • Only during open application periods are applications accepted.
  • There must be a letter of intent (22 DCMR C section 5401.4)

Registration Fees

In addition to the application and permission fees, there are registration fees for management, employees, and business partners. (Sections 5103 and 5104) of 22 DCMR C

  • $10,000 is the annual charge for a medical marijuana dispensary.
  • $5,000 is the initial application fee.
  • Each corporate partner pays a $200 annual fee.
  • Each employee pays an annual charge of $75.
  • Each Manager’s licence costs $150 annually.

Transport Charges

Transporting medical marijuana from the producing site to the distribution facilities costs $25.

Hours of operation

The hours of a medical marijuana shop might range from 7 am to 9 pm.

Process of Application Selection

The District chooses which applicants to give a licence using a point system. Applications must address a list of requirements, and points are awarded for each area that is covered. (Section 5404 of 22 DCMR C) These areas consist of: 

  • Location
  • Staffing \ Security
  • Inventory
  • Plan for business and marketing
  • Impact on the community
  • Educational resources


Location Requirements

  • dispensaries for medical marijuana:
  • cannot be 300 feet or less from a school or recreational facility
  • can’t be anywhere that also sells alcohol
  • No other form of business may be conducted there
  • cannot be in a neighbourhood with homes

Cannabis Education and Training Certificates

Cannabis Education

The following individuals must have training and education certificates: directors, officers, members, incorporators, employees \ managers and agents

Background checks for crimes

The following individuals must submit to criminal background checks: Directors, officials, members, incorporators, employees \ managers  and agents


Are you unfazed by the numerous prerequisites the District of Columbia has set up to open a medical marijuana dispensary? But you still want to be certain that everything is done correctly. Make contact with a nearby marijuana legal expert who specialises in cannabis businesses so they can walk you through the procedure and assist you in drafting the required paperwork.