How to Open a Dispensary in Maryland

A.W. Naves
April 12, 2024

Opening a cannabis dispensary in Maryland is an exciting prospect, but the process can be complex. This article breaks down the key steps and considerations to help you navigate the requirements for setting up a successful Maryland dispensary.

Is Recreational Cannabis Legal in Maryland?

Yes, recreational cannabis is now legal in Maryland. Persons over the age of 21 can legally possess limited amounts of cannabis for personal use. However, cannabis has not been decriminalized. Possession of cannabis exceeding set legal amounts is subject to civil and criminal penalties.

When Did Maryland Legalize Cannabis?

Maryland residents voted to legalize cannabis for adult use in November 2022. In the spring of 2023, the Maryland Legislature followed up by passing the Cannabis Reform Act. This was signed into law by Governor Wes Moore on May 3, 2023. Legal cannabis sales in licensed dispensaries began on July 1, 2023.

A calendar with July 1, 2023 circled in red, which is when Maryland dispensaries opened.

What are the Current Maryland Cannabis Laws?

Current Maryland laws governing the sale and use of cannabis include the following:

Laws Affecting Individuals

  • Adults aged 21 or older can legally possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis flower or up to 12 grams of cannabis concentrates. No more than two cannabis plants can be grown at home for personal use.
  • Persons found in possession of cannabis products over these limits can receive civil fines for small overages, but larger quantities will result in criminal charges.
  • Cannabis products can be gifted to another adult over the age of 21 as long as no remuneration takes place.
  • Maryland does not provide employment protections for off-the-job cannabis consumption.
  • Individuals can have past eligible cannabis convictions expunged, but it is not automatic. Those who have previously been incarcerated can petition the courts to start the process. Currently incarcerated parties can petition the courts to request resentencing for eligible cannabis crimes.
  • Public consumption of cannabis is a civil offense and can result in a fine of up to $500 per infraction.

Laws Affecting Businesses

  • Maryland requires seed-to-sale tracking and reporting via Metrc.
  • Cannabis businesses are regulated by the Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA).
  • All sales of adult-use cannabis must include a 9% sales and use tax.
  • Maryland legislation established three rounds of licensing for cannabis businesses. The first round took place in 2023. The second round will take place in 2024. The third round is to be determined.
  • If cannabis advertising includes claims of medical or therapeutic benefits, those claims must be substantiated by valid scientific evidence.
  • Dispensaries are allowed to use online ordering systems for both delivery and pick-up.
  • Dispensaries may not be open for business for more than 12 hours each day.

How Can I Open a Maryland Dispensary?

The best way to tackle the daunting task of opening a Maryland dispensary is to take it step by step. Here are some guidelines to follow:

1. Understand Maryland's Cannabis Laws

Familiarize yourself with Maryland's laws and regulations regarding cannabis dispensaries. This includes understanding licensing requirements, zoning laws, and operational regulations.

2. Create a Business Plan

Develop a detailed business plan that outlines your dispensary's concept, target market, financial projections, and operational strategies. Include a plan for obtaining funding.

3. Obtain Necessary Licenses and Permits

Apply for the required licenses and permits to operate a dispensary in Maryland. This includes a cannabis dispensary license from the MCA.

4. Secure Funding

Obtain funding for your dispensary through investors, loans, or other means. Having a robust business plan will play a big part in securing funding.

5. Find a Suitable Location

Choose a location for your dispensary that complies with Maryland's zoning laws for cannabis businesses. Consider factors such as visibility, accessibility, and proximity to your target market.

6. Build Out Your Dispensary

Design and build out your dispensary space to meet Maryland's regulatory requirements and create a welcoming environment for customers.

7. Hire and Train Staff

Hire and train staff to work in your dispensary. Ensure they are knowledgeable about cannabis products, regulations, and customer service.

8. Purchase Inventory

Purchase cannabis products from licensed growers and manufacturers to stock your dispensary shelves. Ensure you comply with Maryland's regulations regarding product testing and labeling.

A person holding an unrolled cannabis joint above a table with a cannabis grinder.

9. Implement Security Measures

Install security systems and protocols to ensure the safety and security of your dispensary, staff, and customers.

10. Launch and Market Your Dispensary

Launch your dispensary and implement marketing strategies to attract customers. Consider digital marketing, social media, and community outreach efforts.

11. Maintain Compliance

Stay up-to-date with Maryland's cannabis regulations and ensure your dispensary complies with all requirements to maintain your license.

How Can I Obtain a Maryland Cannabis License?

Here are the basics of obtaining a cannabis dispensary license in Maryland based information provided on the MCA website:

  • Understand the Requirements: Before applying for a license, familiarize yourself with the requirements outlined by the MCA. These requirements include background checks, financial disclosures, and other documentation.
  • Complete the Application: Obtain the application form from the MCA website and complete it accurately. Include all required documentation and pay the application fee.
  • Submit the Application: Submit your completed application and all required documents to the MCA. Ensure that you meet all deadlines and requirements for submission.
  • Background Check: All applicants and key employees must undergo a criminal background check. Ensure that all individuals associated with your application meet the MCA's requirements.
  • Financial Disclosures: Provide detailed financial disclosures as required by the MCA. This may include information about your business structure, funding sources, and financial history.
  • Site Plan: Submit a detailed site plan for your proposed dispensary location, including information about security measures, accessibility, and compliance with local zoning laws.
  • Compliance: Ensure that your proposed dispensary location complies with all relevant state and local laws, including zoning regulations.
  • Wait for Approval: After submitting your application, wait for the MCA to review and approve it. This process may take several months, so be patient.
  • Final Steps: Once your application is approved, complete any additional requirements set by the MCA, such as training programs or inspections.
  • Opening Your Dispensary: After completing all requirements and receiving final approval from the MCA, you can open your cannabis dispensary in Maryland.

While the information above is a great overview of what you can expect when applying to open a dispensary in Maryland, you should refer to the MCA website for the most up-to-date and detailed information.

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

The costs of opening a cannabis dispensary in Maryland can vary widely depending on several factors, including the location, size of the operation, and regulatory requirements. It is estimated that the cost to start up a dispensary in the United States can range anywhere from $150,000 to $2 million.

To open a dispensary in Maryland, you will need a significant amount of capital. The exact amount can vary widely depending on various factors such as the location, size of the operation, and specific requirements. These costs typically include expenses such as licensing fees, application fees, real estate costs (such as lease or purchase of a property), construction and renovation costs, security systems, inventory, staffing, and marketing. Additionally, you should budget for ongoing operational costs such as rent, utilities, payroll, inventory restocking, and compliance expenses.

A person writing a check for $1,200 with coins, a dollar bill, and a calculator on the table.

What Taxes Do Maryland Dispensaries Have to Pay?

Maryland cannabis dispensaries are subject to several taxes, including:

  • Sales Tax: Cannabis products sold at dispensaries are subject to Maryland's 9% sales tax.
  • Business Taxes: Dispensaries are also subject to standard business taxes, such as income tax, if applicable.
  • Local Taxes: Depending on the location of the dispensary, there may be additional local taxes imposed on cannabis sales.

Dispensaries need to keep detailed records of their sales and expenses to ensure compliance with all tax requirements. Working with a tax professional who is familiar with the cannabis industry can also help dispensaries navigate the complex tax landscape.

Final Thoughts on Opening a Dispensary in Maryland

In an emerging cannabis market like Maryland, there’s plenty of exciting opportunities for entrepreneurs. While navigating the dispensary license process and building a cannabis brand might be a challenge, it can be a rewarding business venture. By starting off your dispensary journey using the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll have a solid foundation for success. 

KayaPush software can also help streamline your dispensary operations. Book a demo to learn more about how we can help save your time and mo

Table of content

April 2024


Want to learn more about dispensary software management?

Meet the cannabis dispensary software that will save you time and money



per week



to run payroll


saved yearly

Hear what our customers have to say

“KayaPush has it all in one platform where you can kind of build what you need. Especially as a start-up, that’s important to us to be cost-friendly. You have the best price for what you’re offering. ”

-Marry Ann from Riverside Wellness-

Easiest to Use
Spring 2022
High Performer
Spring 2022
Best Usability
Spring 2022
Easiest Setup
Spring 2022
Trusted Vendor
Quality Choice

Easily and quickly scale your dispensary with the all-in-one solution

Get a Demo Call!

You Might Also Like

How to Secure an Ohio Dispensary License

Find Out More

How to Open a Dispensary in Minnesota

Find Out More

How to Open a California Dispensary in 2023

Find Out More