Navigate to our accessibility widget

Friday August 14, 2015

By Abby Hutmacher


If you’ve been thinking about moving to Colorado to open your own dispensary, you’re not alone. As of July, 2015, there are almost 800 dispensaries in Colorado -- including both medical and recreational facilities, with many more awaiting approval.

But just because it is a popular business choice does not mean it is a simple one. In addition to finding inventory and real estate that is compatible with your business, you’ll need to meet all state-mandated requirements and fees, and ensure that your location permits the business in the first place.

Before you pack your bags to set out on your next big business venture, consider all that is involved in running a successful dispensary in Colorado.

Requirements for owning a dispensary

First and foremost, you’ll have to meet all requirements for owning a dispensary in Colorado. For example, you must be at least 21 years old and a Colorado resident for at least two years (or married to one). You must also be free of any convictions involving controlled substances within the last 10 years and be fully discharged of any other felony convictions for at least five years. The same goes for financial partners and employees.

Other requirements include a clean moral history (as determined by criminal records) and not being employed by the local or State Licensing Authority (such as a sheriff or prosecuting officer).

Applications and Fees

If all above criteria are met, then it's time to start filling in some applications. Once all applications have been filled out and all necessary fees (pdf) have been gathered, it’s time to schedule an appointment with the Marijuana Enforcement Division. Remember to bring all pertinent paperwork (including supporting documents) along with all owners to your appointment.

If everything is approved, owners will be fingerprinted and be asked to pay the state application and license fee along with the Local Authority Application fee. The following forms can be downloaded prior to your appointment:

Important things to remember if you want run a successful dispensary

As mentioned earlier, there are many people with the same idea of opening a dispensary, which means that you’ll have to make an extra effort to ensure that yours stands out from the crowd. If you want your future dispensary to be a success, there are some important factors that you need to consider.

People are more choosy about their weed:

Gone are the days when any ol’ dime bag would do. These days, people are expecting quality cannabis. Though some may be more open to discounted bottom-shelf green, more often than not, you’ll still need some high-quality bud if you expect returning guests or high recommendations. It is recommended that you thoroughly research and review your growers and producers prior to signing any distribution contracts.

Choose your environment carefully:

Cannabis is classy -- at least it should be. In order to promote a positive experience for your guests, be sure to carefully plan your location (assuming that it is permitted in the area) and design your store to welcome guests and make them feel safe. Check out to see if your city allows either medical marijuana (pdf) or recreational marijuana (pdf) dispensaries.

Customer service goes a long way:

A legal marijuana industry wouldn’t even exist without the vote of the people. Make sure to show your appreciation by providing good customer service at all times. This will not only reinforce the idea that marijuana businesses are a good thing, but will encourage your guests to visit you (and make lots of purchases) again and again. They might even recommend their friends!

Create a web presence:

And not just a website, either. If you want people to think of you when planning their next dispensary visit, make your company known by posting on social sites, updating a blog or offering email incentives. This is a great way to give your company that home-town (and thus, trusted) appeal, even from across the globe.

When it comes to cannabis, money really does seem to grow on trees, making the dispensary business an appealing one, indeed. Of course, just because others are doing it doesn’t mean the opportunity isn’t ripe for you, too. If you can meet the state-mandated requirements, you can own your very own marijuana dispensary in Colorado, and earn some major greenbacks for doing so.

Would you like to run your own dispensary in Colorado? Tell us about your plans!

Photo Credit: O'Dea, (license)


Abby Hutmacher Abby Hutmacher

Abby is a writer and founder of Cannabis Content, a marketplace designed to connect cannabis writers and creatives with businesses in the industry. She has been a professional cannabis writer since 2014 and regularly contributes to publications such as PotGuide and M&F Talent. She is also the Content Director at Fortuna Hemp, America’s leading feminized hemp seed bank. Follow Abby on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

More From This Author

Related Articles