MD Cannabis License – Dispensary/Cultivation Application Kit


Maryland Cannabis Licensing

(updated 04/02/24)

The state of Maryland will soon be accepting it’s second round of MD cannabis license lottery applications for cannabis growers, processors and dispensaries. This is expected to happen later in 2024. In contrast to the previous social equity lottery, the upcoming lottery is for the general public. Initially, we thought this round would happen in May, but the state is putting it off and has not yet announced when the next round will be. We will update this page when we find out.

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To apply for the lottery qualification, the MCA (Maryland Cannabis Administration) requires that you submit what they refer to as a Maryland Diversity Plan, an Operational Plan and a Business Plan. That’s where we come in! These 3 items will be evaluated using a pass/fail system, and those who pass will be entered into a lottery for the following cannabis license awards (pending spring 2024 updates from the MCA):

For standard licenses:

  • 16 grower licenses
  • 32 processor licenses
  • 75 dispensary licenses

For MD micro licenses:

  • 24 grower licenses
  • 24  processor licenses
  • 8 dispensary licenses

We provide high quality templates for the plans required. Scroll down for more information.

The new forms limited the pages counts to the following:

  • Diversity Plan – 4-page limit
  • Business Plan – 10-page limit
  • Operational Plan – 3-page limit

It turns out the Operational Plan isn’t an Operational Plan at all; it’s a set of commitments to “prepare and make available” documents such as Fire Safety Procedures, Medical Emergency Protocols, procedures for maintaining proper hygiene, and a few other items.

If you do win the lottery, and the MCA requests the full versions of Maryland cannabis operating procedures, we will have those available.


Qualifying for a lottery is not that hard, but it’s still helpful to have some professional support. The MCA has not been 100% clear about where they are drawing the line between acceptable and unacceptable documents, but they have published a document that explains their Application Evaluation Criteria. You can find it HERE. 

What Exactly Does CS Consulting Offer and How Much Does it Cost?

As an experienced Maryland cannabis license consulting company, we help you get your application documents ready to submit. We will provide you with filled out documents that we will work with you to customize, along with 2 hours of included consultation, for $1800 for one license and $2300 for two. (You can apply for a maximum of two, which must be in different categories). Extra hours of consultation are billed at $300/hour. The Operational Plan and Diversity Plan are the same for each license type, but the Business Plan is different. We cover the Maryland Cultivation License (standard or micro), the Maryland Dispensary License, The Maryland Micro Dispensary License and the Maryland Processing License types.

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The Maryland Cannabis Licensing Process

maryland cultivation licenseYou’re probably wondering what the provisions and process for obtaining a Maryland cannabis license entail. It’s not nearly as complex as the medical MD cannabis licensing regime was, but it does require a basic understanding of Maryland cannabis laws and regulations to ensure a successful application process, along with the help of a few experts. Let’s delve deeper into this.

The Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA) is the governing body responsible for the regulation of cannabis in the state. The MCA also oversees Maryland cultivation licenses, processors, dispensaries, and MD microbusiness licenses. The Maryland cannabis licensing system is a lottery this time around, but you must submit a the 3 professional documents we’ve been discussing in order to quality for it. Maryland cannabis licenses are limited in number which means that winning one is likely to be lucrative.

Maryland cannabis processor license holders are licensed to transform cannabis into other products, like oils, tinctures, edibles and other concentrated cannabis types. Just like growers, they are also required to submit the above-named plans to qualify for the lottery.

MD dispensary license holders are the public facing business type that move all of the cultivated and processed cannabis to adult-use consumers. Licensed dispensaries serve the vital role of distributing medical cannabis to consumers. Maryland cannabis licensing requires dispensaries to adhere to stringent requirements for security, recordkeeping, product testing, and patient education. A significantly higher number of Maryland dispensary licenses will be granted than MD cultivation licenses and MD processing licenses.

While the journey toward obtaining a Maryland cannabis license might seem daunting, it’s designed to create a healthy successful marketplace for consumers and communities.

Key Provisions of Business Ownership for Maryland Cannabis Licensees

The state of Maryland has a burgeoning adult-use cannabis sector that is continually growing, with promising opportunities for potential business participants. However, before you go about setting up a marijuana venture in the state, it’s crucial to understand the key provisions of obtaining and maintaining a Maryland cannabis license.

Maryland dispensary licenses are highly regulated to ensure public safety and to mitigate risks of misuse. Following the regulations is imperative for maintaining your license and staying compliant with the law.

Who Can Apply for an MD Cannabis License?

The Cannabis Reform Act (Bill HB556/SB516) required that all applicants in Round 1 qualified as social equity applicants. This occurred in December of 2023, and we had 15 customers qualify for the lottery. Three of those won licenses in the March 2024 lottery.

In Round 2, applications for lottery qualification are open to all adult Maryland residents over age 21. The MCA has not officially announced the timing for this round. We will update this web page when they do.

What Does a Maryland Dispensary License Cost?

maryland processing licenseWhere medical cannabis license applicants had to pay much higher application fees, an applicant in the adult-use regime must only submit an application fee of either $5,000 for a standard license; or $1,000 for a Maryland micro license.

One of the key provisions for every licensee is that Maryland’s cannabis licenses may not be transferred, sold, or otherwise altered without first obtaining permission from the Maryland Cannabis Commission. Also, business entities that apply for and hold the licenses must be registered in Maryland. More importantly, the state law mandates that all registered marijuana businesses have to operate within the confines of the state. Any attempt to trafficking across state lines could result in severe penalties, including fines or jail times, and revocation of the business permit.

Another provision is the requirement for strict safety and security guidelines. The state mandates that the licensee must maintain comprehensive records of their operations. The inventory shall be tracked using a state-approved system to reduce the risk of diversion. All cannabis products must be properly labeled with necessary information like the THC content, batch number, and expiration date, to name a few. Apart from that, strong security measures must be enforced to prevent theft and unauthorized access.

Also, it is the mandate of the licensee to ensure quality control. They must ensure that all cannabis products are safe for consumption and in accordance with state regulations. Cultivators and processors must test their products for contaminants before being made available for sale. Retailers must also only sell products that adhere to the guidelines set by the commission.

Compliance with tax regulations is another central provision. Like any other business, cannabis enterprises must maintain transparent financial records and pay all applicable taxes as specified by both the state and federal authorities. These can include sales tax, excise tax, and potentially corporate tax. Besides, licensees are also required to enable annual audit inspections by the commission to validate financial statements and adherence to state tax laws.

How to Get a Maryland Dispensary License or a Maryland Cultivation License

The Maryland dispensary license and the Maryland cultivation licenses and processor licenses will be available in limited numbers for standard and micro applicants. The dispensary license type is the easiest to pay for and operate for newbies. The compliance requirements can be onerous, but there are far fewer expenses and pitfalls than in cultivation and processing.

NOTE: The MD Micro Dispensary license can ONLY deliver for the first 2 years of operation. After two years in good standing, retail microbusiness operators can apply to convert their licenses to a storefront cannabis dispensary.

The Maryland cannabis market will be highly lucrative because the state set a cap on the number of licenses to be issued, thereby creating a closed market–an oligopoly. If you want to qualify to enter, it’s important to pay close attention to the details of the requirements stipulated by the MCA. The MCA was clear in their fall 2023 community outreach meetings that they were disqualifying applications because of all kinds of minor technicalities. The applicant’s actual qualifications weren’t as much of a factor.

Getting Started with a Maryland Cannabis License: A Beginner’s Guide

Maryland dispensary licenseGetting a Maryland dispensary license requires a substantial amount of preparation and understanding of the state’s legal framework. Before applying for a license, it’s important to have a comprehensive understanding of Maryland’s cannabis regulations, the unique needs and preferences of the Maryland cannabis market, and the operational nuances involved with running a Maryland cannabis dispensary.

Like any other business, managing a licensed cannabis facility comes with its unique challenges and opportunities. Maryland cannabis compliance will require solid knowledge and understanding of the state’s regulations, which will assist licensees in leading their ventures successfully. Proprietors should possess a strong business plan, regulatory compliance strategies, marketing and sales strategies, adequate funding, and a good strategy for handling challenges, since it’s not a matter of “if”, but “when”.

An important component of getting an MD dispensary license off the ground involves identifying a suitable location for the business. Maryland’s cannabis zoning laws are stringent, and businesses must comply with these to avoid running into legal trouble. Businesses need to choose a location that meets the state’s zoning laws while also serving the needs of their target market. Additionally, building or buying a secure and compliant facility, sourcing for quality cannabis products, and assembling a strong team are other crucial factors.

MD cannabis license holders also need to establish strong community relationships. As a licensee, one needs to maintain a positive and supportive relationship with local officials, law enforcement, and the larger community. This aids in maintaining a favorable public image, ensuring license retention, and promoting business growth.

Finally, a focused and persistent mindset is essential once you obtain a Maryland dispensary license. The process might seem drawn-out and complicated, but it is important to remember that for a business venture like this, taking time, doing things right, and sticking to regulations will likely result in success. Persistence, resilience, and patience are critical virtues in this nascent and flourishing MD industry.

By following through with these guidelines and staying informed, you’re bound to navigate the Maryland cannabis landscape with less difficulty. It’s crucial to uphold the highest levels of professionalism and commitment to create an enterprise that benefits you as an investor and serves the Maryland community at large.

How to Open a Dispensary in Maryland

When considering how to open a cannabis dispensary in Maryland, qualifying for, and then winning, the lottery are the highest priorities. If you are lucky enough to be selected to obtain a license, the MCA will ask for business formation and financing documents, along with contracts you have with partners. Then they will ask for detailed operational plans, which we can help with.

When you are opening a dispensary in Maryland, it’s all about securing a location and building it out, which takes up to a year, even more if you are doing ground-up construction. You’ll need approval to use the location from your local municipality, as well as various permits for construction, occupancy and tax registration. After that, opening a dispensary in Maryland is all about style and product options. You can contact the licensed cultivators and processors and arrange to look at their product choices. This will be an ongoing process because new MD cultivation license holders will come online and others will stall, so maintaining active relationships with other license holders over time is critical to keeping your shelves stocked with good options for your customers.

Should I Apply For an MD Cultivation License if I Don’t Know How to Grow Cannabis?

The Maryland Cannabis Cultivation License will be the most expensive and complicated to operate, but winning the lottery for ANY cannabis license in MD will be lucrative because the license numbers are limited. If you have no experience, we recommend applying for two licenses, and if you win one that you don’t want to operate or don’t know how to operate, you can engage experts, bring in new owners or investors, and make it financially worthwhile. It appears that you can also sell the license, although the exact rules for this might still be forthcoming.

Fully comprehending the rules and regulations, and understanding the stipulations involved in becoming an active Maryland cannabis participant isn’t a straightforward process. This journey, however, is made significantly easier when you are connected to experts and other industry participants.

The exciting journey to launching a Maryland cannabis business can feel complicated if you’re not equipped with the right information. As a prospective MD License holder in the business, you need to display an intense commitment to sustaining high operational standards for patient safety and product quality.

The application process will include gathering required documents, using the Commission’s online application system, and uploading everything within the 30-day window the state will specify in the spring of 2024.

If you win the lottery, your financial solvency, criminal background status, and your capability to maintain high product and service standards are likely to be evaluated before a final license will be granted. Also, MD License holders must ensure their establishments are compliant with state and local land-use and zoning requirements.

As a prospective applicant, being well capitalized makes all the difference. Capital costs, operating expenses, and the MD dispensary licensing fees must all be taken into account. Though launching a cannabis business venture in Maryland may seem strenuous and financially demanding, having solid funding will contribute greatly to making your journey a lot smoother.

In conclusion, the application process for lottery qualification is not complex, but becoming a licensed cannabis dispensary is a detailed process that requires diligence, financial capability, and most importantly, fervent commitment. The expectations for MD cannabis license holders in the business can be particularly demanding, considering the thorough processes involved; from understanding the provisions and processes of Maryland cannabis licensing to complying will all of the rules day-to-day. Still, with the right support, consistent dedication, and good support, you too can run a successful cannabis business in Maryland!

Learn more about our services. We can help with your Maryland dispensary licensing FAQs!


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Micro Cultivation, Processing or Micro Processing, Standard Dispensary, Micro Dispensary, Additional Set

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