How To Open a Dispensary in Pennsylvania


How To Open a Dispensary in Pennsylvania

In the US, many states have swiftly legalized cannabis. 38 states have legalized cannabis for medical purposes, while 22 states have legalized cannabis for adult use. One of the states that have legalized medical marijuana is Pennsylvania. Under Governor Tom Wolf, who approved Senate Bill 3 to permit the use of medical cannabis, the process started in April 2016. The program is managed by the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board (HMAB), a division of the state Department of Health.

The Pennsylvania governor proposed legalizing and taxing marijuana for adult use as part of his budget plan for the 2023–2024 fiscal year on March 7th, 2023.

Since marijuana is legalized, it is proposed in the executive budget to impose a 20 percent tax on the wholesale cost of marijuana items exchanged through the controlled production and sales system. The budget estimates that the state will earn around $16 million in legalized cannabis tax revenue in 2025, assuming sales start on January 1st. The following year, 2026, is anticipated to see a rise in this amount to $64 million, followed by $132.6 million in 2027 and $188 million in 2028.

Only licensed dispensaries are permitted to sell medicinal marijuana in the state of Pennsylvania, and these establishments must follow the correct procedures to get their licenses. However, individuals that meet the requirements are now only receiving a small number of licenses. Anyone considering taking advantage of this expanding market by opening a cannabis dispensary in Pennsylvania must follow the stringent processes to be recognized by the state. 

Before creating a dispensary in Pennsylvania, consider the following:

How many cannabis licenses in Pennsylvania?

In the state of Pennsylvania, there are numerous medical cannabis dispensaries in operation. The passage of Senate Bill 3 resulted in the creation of up to 25 marijuana grower/processor licenses and 50 dispensary licenses, which would be awarded to applicants in the state to serve only registered patients with recognized medical conditions. After receiving a dispensary license, a candidate may open three additional outlets, in the statewide total of 150 locations.

Cannabis license requirements:

  • $5000 non-refundable application fee to be submitted at the time of application for cannabis license in Pennsylvania
  • $30000 fee to be submitted for each location the application is wishing to open and this fee is refundable if the application is rejected
  • $5000 has to be paid as an annual fee if the license is granted 
  • A capital of $15000 in the applicant’s bank account at the time of issuance of the license
  • A single individual can obtain up to five permits and can open up to 3 dispensaries in different locations 
  • The applicant company’s operations, and business plan
  • Submit evidence that the applicant can set up and manage effective security
  • Submit proof that the applicant can stop illicit activities like drug usage and diverting attention from school
  • Applicants must demonstrate that they are adhering to local zoning regulations
  • A diversity plan also must be submitted by applicants

Currently, only medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania. Roughly 23 medical conditions qualify to be treated by medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. These include epilepsy, cancer, autism, glaucoma, PTSD, AIDS, etc. The medical cannabis dispensary owners must ensure to supply customers who have obtained medical marijuana licenses.

Find out if you are eligible to open a dispensary in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, limited licenses are available, and not everyone will be eligible for one. 

  • Doctors, those who have previously broken Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act
  • Those who have battled addiction
  • Those who have previously been convicted of a drug crime, and
  • Some public officials in Pennsylvania might not be qualified to open a dispensary

are among those who are not permitted to apply for a medical marijuana dispensary permit. Before granting a license to lawfully run a dispensary in the state, officials want to make sure that license applicants have “good moral character.”

Types of cannabis licenses in Pennsylvania:

Only medical marijuana licenses are permitted in Pennsylvania. However, businesses that use medical marijuana in Pennsylvania can be divided into two categories: those that comply with the Medical Marijuana Act and those that do not. Every medicinal marijuana firm is susceptible to civil lawsuits and criminal prosecution by the federal government. If a medical marijuana provider is careless and marijuana is lost, stolen, or unaccounted for, or if a software error results in an unlawful marijuana diversion, the marijuana provider’s software inventory system may be the subject of an investigation and forfeiture. To find about the potential hazards in beginning a medicinal marijuana business, all enterprises should speak with an attorney.

How much quantity can pharmacists dispense medical marijuana and how long can the patients possess?

Medical cannabis for patients can be stored by the patients for up to 90 days. The pharmacist will determine the dosage and the patient can receive 30 days of supply from the pharmacist. Apart from cannabis oils, topical ointments, cannabis-infused pills, liquids or tinctures, and herbal cannabis are the forms of cannabis allowed. Patients can use herbal cannabis in vapor form but should not smoke.

The Future of cannabis in Pennsylvania

By 2025, it is anticipated that marijuana sales in the state will be worth approximately 1.25 billion US dollars. By 2025, Leafly projects that the cannabis market will have expanded to include dispensaries in newly legalized countries and will be worth close to $45 billion yearly. 

Based on 600,000 transactions in its first year after legalization, the Pennsylvania medicinal marijuana program has a high potential, with sales reaching $132 million. Through 2025, the global compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is anticipated to be constant at 23.9%.


The cannabis license process in Pennsylvania can be intimidating. Applicants must comply with the regulations that are imposed on medical marijuana shops by both state and federal entities. The laws are also difficult to follow and are continuously changing. You can believe you are abiding by the law but still face a sizable fine during your next inspection. 

Your operations will be rigorously monitored by the law enforcement agencies and the medical regulators, and the Department of Agriculture. We haven’t even scratched the surface of what the EPA and Department of Labor want to see as proof that your business is legal. 

Learn as much as you can about the organizations and rules you must abide by to operate a medical marijuana dispensary in Pennsylvania. Furthermore, know that many (but not all) of these will be useful while opening an adult-use business later.

Cannabis is a tremendously lucrative market that can offer business owners the chance to profit from a developing industry. The enormous demand for cannabis products, both for adult use and for medical reasons, is being demonstrated by a rising user base. Considering this, starting a cannabis business could be a very lucrative option for those who can recognize the potential of this sector both now and in the future.

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