Over 10 years we helping companies reach their financial and branding goals. Onum is a values-driven SEO agency dedicated.

Legal Business

How to Open a Dispensary in Michigan

How to Open a Dispensary in Michigan

If you’re wondering how to open a dispensary in Michigan, you most likely know how complicated this process can be. Whether it’s getting the funding, finding the location, developing a business, marketing, or adhering to local laws and regulations, it takes a lot of time most people aren’t ready for.

Still, there is plenty of online information for you to begin your journey into opening a dispensary in Michigan. As a result, below will discuss the specifics of how much it costs, the guide to opening a dispensary in Michigan, and how we can help you with any needs you may have in the matter.

Key Takeaways

  • Michigan legalized adult-use cannabis in 2018 and is the first state in the Midwest to allow recreational dispensaries.
  • Opening a dispensary in Michigan requires understanding the state’s cannabis laws, forming a legal business entity, and writing a comprehensive business plan for the Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA).
  • Location and security considerations are important when choosing a visible location with ample parking and ensuring compliance with municipal regulations.
  • Funding for opening a dispensary can come from self-funding, loans, investments, partnerships, crowdfunding, or cannabis-specific brokerage companies, and the estimated total cost is $618,000 (excluding cannabis product inventory).

Michigan’s Cannabis Landscape

In understanding the process of opening a dispensary in Michigan, it’s essential to first grasp the current landscape of the state’s thriving cannabis industry. Under the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act of 2018, both recreational marijuana and medicinal cannabis are legal. The state was the first in the Midwest to legalize recreational marijuana and has since seen rapid growth in the industry.

To open a marijuana dispensary, a marijuana business must obtain an adult-use license from the Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA). This agency oversees the application and licensing process, ensuring businesses comply with the state’s regulations and standards. It’s important to note that Michigan refers to dispensaries as provisioning centers.

The real estate location of a dispensary is a crucial factor in the license approval process. The chosen property must be approved by the municipality and located at a requisite distance from certain establishments such as schools. Moreover, Michigan has a Social Equity Program which supports communities impacted by cannabis laws by offering reduced fees for dispensaries in these designated areas.

The cannabis industry in Michigan has shown impressive sales figures. With over 500 licensed medical dispensaries and 470 adult-use marijuana retail centers, the market is projected to reach $3 billion in sales by 2024. The state’s progressive cannabis laws and robust market make it an attractive location for entrepreneurs looking to open a dispensary.

Navigating Michigan’s Cannabis Laws

Understanding Michigan’s cannabis laws is a crucial step for any entrepreneur aiming to establish a dispensary in the state. Michigan legalized adult-use recreational cannabis in 2018, becoming a leader in the Midwest’s cannabis industry. However, to open a dispensary in Michigan, adherence to the rules and regulations set by the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA) is mandatory.

Before starting the application process, entrepreneurs must submit a prequalification application. This involves background checks for everyone involved in the proposed marijuana business. After successful prequalification, the license qualification phase follows, during which specific business information is required.

Michigan dispensaries can sell both medicinal and recreational cannabis. Therefore, one must obtain a Medical Marihuana Facilities License through the CRA, ensuring compliance with regulations and standards. The CRA is part of Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), which oversees Marijuana Licensing in the state.

Choosing a suitable location is another critical aspect governed by Michigan’s cannabis laws. The selected location must be approved by the municipality and maintain a specific distance from certain establishments and drug-free zones. The Social Equity Program offers reduced fees for dispensaries in approved locations, supporting communities affected by cannabis laws.

How Much to Open a Dispensary in Michigan – Costs and More

If interested in opening a dispensary, you typically go through a prequalification exchange and record verification as you plan and present your documentation. All candidates apply through the state’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) for a Medical Marijuana Facilities License.

Michigan has executed a remarkable drive to help areas impacted by cannabis restriction. The MRA has a Social Equity Program, in which applying for a permit in any of these programs will reduce the cost of your dispensary licenses and restoration expenses.


Licensing: The Essential Step

Following the thorough comprehension of Michigan’s cannabis laws, the next crucial step towards opening a dispensary in the state is securing the appropriate licensing. The Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA) is responsible for issuing licenses for both recreational and medicinal marijuana dispensaries and businesses, ensuring they comply with all state regulations.

The licensing process is a two-step procedure starting with prequalification, which involves comprehensive background checks for all individuals involved in the proposed marijuana business. Upon successful prequalification, applicants must submit specific information during the license qualification phase, demonstrating their adherence to the stringent standards set by the CRA.

One requirement for license qualification is the verification of a suitable location for the dispensary. The chosen building or lot must be approved by the local municipality and must not be located within specific distances from drug-free zones and certain establishments. Applicants should take note of the Social Equity program, which provides support and reduced fees for dispensaries located in communities disproportionately affected by previous cannabis laws.

Furthermore, the application process entails a license fee. During the prequalification phase, applicants must submit a non-refundable fee of $6,000. Additional costs may apply depending on the type of cannabis license pursued.

Securing the appropriate license is a meticulous process, but it is a crucial step towards establishing a legitimate and successful marijuana business in Michigan. Prospective dispensary owners must not only understand but also diligently comply with all aspects of the licensing procedure to ensure a smooth and successful entry into Michigan’s thriving cannabis market.

Dispensary License Cost Michigan

The dispensary license is the most significant cost associated with the subject. In Michigan, licensing fees total between $10,000 and $66,000 depending on your dispensary type and location in the state. The license cost tends to be the central concern for people while they try to create a dispensary in the state.

Generally speaking, most entrepreneurs look for investments to back up the main cost of the dispensary. That cost usually focuses on the dispensary license and business storefront. Though it may take some time to obtain the funding, you can rest assured moving forward once the license is purchased.

Other Costs

  • Application Fee (around $6,000)
  • Annual Contribution of $500,000 for Substance Abuse Disorder Programs

Location Selection and Zoning Laws

Upon securing the appropriate licensing, the next pivotal step towards opening a dispensary in Michigan involves diligent location selection, bearing in mind the state’s stringent zoning laws and regulations. Finding the right building or lot is crucial to the success of your business and should be a priority in your planning process.

It’s not a decision you want to rush. Instead, you should secure the right location before starting your dispensary. This includes understanding the zoning laws and regulations that dictate where dispensaries can be located. For instance, Michigan dispensaries must be at least 1,000 feet away from certain establishments and drug-free zones.

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) and the Michigan Treasury oversee the Marihuana Licensing process, and they require potential business owners to adhere to these zoning laws. Non-compliance can lead to penalties, delays, or even the denial of your license.

Moreover, the Social Equity Program in Michigan offers incentives to dispensaries that choose to locate in certain areas. This program supports communities that have been disproportionately affected by previous cannabis laws. Therefore, location selection is not just about finding a commercially viable spot but also about aligning with the state’s broader social equity initiatives.

Opening a Dispensary in Michigan Guide

Opening a dispensary is a lengthy process no matter where you live. Generally speaking, the process begins with some sort of business plan. For those who don’t know, the business plan discusses the goals, objectives, plan, financing, and requirements needed to have a successful business.

Before obtaining any licensing or permission, the business plan should come first. Considering many cannabis entrepreneurs seek financing to obtain licensing, having a business plan to direct that initiative is imperative.

Tips for Creating a Business Plan

A business plan is essential to any great business, especially in the cannabis sector. Though that process may seem overwhelming considering everything else you need to do, you’ll be glad to have it as you get started in the matter.

Keep it Simple – Many people overthink their business plans, but as long as you keep it clear and to the point, you should be fine. Though you shouldn’t go under share, there is a fine line of what should be in your plan.

Use a Business Plan Template – Rather than attempt to make a business plan from scratch, utilize the web to your advantage. There are countless cannabis business templates to analyze, so definitely look at those first.

Do Research – Many cannabis entrepreneurs jump right into the process of creating a business plan without realizing the importance of research. Do everything you can to outline what you’ll need, ranging from products to sourcing to financing.

Have a Great Summary and Introduction – The summary and introduction are arguably the most vital points to any great business plan. Realize it’s a matter of getting you off in the right direction while concluding with all of the critical points.

Requirements to Open a Dispensary in Michigan

Understanding all of the various requirements to open a dispensary is one of the most overwhelming experiences in the process. Many people give up opening a dispensary to fear that they’re not following all of the requirements. Truthfully, it’s not as difficult as it might seem.

As long as you read the Michigan dispensary laws and your application is approved, you should be fine. If you’re still worried about the matter, consider reaching out to a digital marketing agency to guarantee everything you’re doing is correct. Nevertheless, below will highlight the principal regulations and requirements you should follow.

Michigan Dispensary Laws

Understanding how to open a dispensary in Michigan isn’t completed without knowing all of the specifics tied to the law. For those who don’t know, dispensary and cannabis laws vary significantly from state to state. Some states are very loose with their regulations and requirements, while others are stricter.

Michigan is somewhere in the middle of the pack where there are several regulations and laws you need to follow but isn’t overdone like some states. Either way, these laws and regulations primarily protect the consumer. Regardless, below are a few regulations, storefront requirements, and other requirements to know.

Michigan Dispensary Federal Regulations

  • Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. sections 801-971)
  • Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 280E)

Michigan Dispensary State Regulations

  • Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act (MRTMA)
  • Specific communities have declined to allow any MRTMA-licensed facilities
  • Michigan’s Marijuana Tracking Act
  • Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act

Storefront Requirements

  • Retail locations can’t permit the use of marijuana except if they have the required permit and assigned smoking regions.
  • Dispensaries can’t sell food or liquor.
  • Dispensaries should not be situated within 1,000 feet of a medication-free zone (like a school or childcare office), alcohol stores, or different dispensaries.
  • All clients should be no less than 21 years of age.

Other Requirements

  • No felonies within the last ten years
  • No local ordinance violations within five years
  • Must be 21 years old or older
  • No past issues with law enforcement
  • No misdemeanors involving controlled substances within the last five years

What Happens if I’m Denied?

If you’re denied, you should take the time to examine all of the above requirements and see if you don’t fit the requirements yet. If you’ve looked over them several times and are still not sure why you’re denied, consider reaching out to a cannabis industry lawyer. The lawyer can help you outline and discuss what you need to do to get approved.

Funding and Financial Planning

Having devised a detailed business plan, your next crucial step involves securing the necessary funding and orchestrating a strategic financial plan for your dispensary in Michigan. As you navigate how to open a dispensary in Michigan, remember that traditional mainstream banking may not be an option due to federal regulations. Thus, it is essential to explore funding sources such as private lenders specializing in financing cannabis businesses, like Copper Street Lending or Bricks & Mortar Cannabis.

As part of your financial planning, account for the $6,000 application fee for the prequalification process, which can take about six months. This underscores the importance of planning your funding strategy well in advance to prevent any financial bottlenecks.

Moreover, given the highly regulated nature of the industry, liaising with the Michigan Treasury is crucial. As a dispensary owner, you will be responsible for multiple taxes, including a 6% sales tax and a 10% excise tax. Ensuring these taxes are accounted for in your financial planning will help you maintain regulatory compliance.

Insurance is another financial aspect to consider. Securing an insurance policy that covers potential industry-specific risks is advisable.

In terms of business model, VERTICAL INTEGRATION can offer numerous benefits including cost savings and improved oversight of operations. However, this requires additional funding and planning for various industry jobs within your dispensary.

Michigan Cannabis Dispensary POS Software

POS software refers to the point-of-sale of a company. The software is the working framework you use to oversee actual stores and sell face to face. There are countless POS software to consider, many of which vary with pros and cons. Take a look at some of the best options to see what works for you the best.

POS software provides you with a decent outline of your business and keeps a record of its income. The software also makes it so information about a product can be found without any problem. Not to mention its capacity to save data about your financial status, stock status, and business status.

Tax Information to Know

Besides all the regulations, rules, laws, and general advice to follow, some tax information is worth mentioning. You more than likely have heard about the cannabis industry’s benefit on the economy, and a lot of that has to do with the government taxing the industry. Some critical tax information to know includes the following:

  • Dispensaries pay a three percent tax on gross retail paid to the Michigan Treasury Online (MTO)
  • Dispensaries pay a six percent tax and use tax on statewide deals
  • Dispensaries pay a ten percent extra tax on recreational cannabis sales
  • Late charges apply on license renewals

Marketing Your Michigan Dispensary

Effective marketing is an essential element in the success of your Michigan dispensary. A comprehensive marketing strategy that includes building a strong brand identity, utilizing digital marketing techniques, and engaging with the local community can set your dispensary apart in a growing market. It is crucial to ensure all marketing efforts are compliant with state regulations to maintain the integrity and legality of your business.

Building Brand Awareness

Develop a compelling brand identity for your Michigan dispensary to resonate with your target market and establish brand awareness. In learning how to open a dispensary in Michigan, building brand awareness is crucial and should begin during the prequalification phase. Utilize digital marketing channels, ensuring compliance with Facilities Licensing regulations. Consider the Social Equity program, aimed at communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition, as it offers opportunities for brand partnerships and heightened visibility. VERTICAL INTEGRATION also provides a competitive edge, allowing control over various aspects of the business. Remember, existing Michigan license holders can apply for additional licenses, broadening their market reach. In a saturated market, a strong, resonant brand identity can set your dispensary apart.

Digital Marketing Strategies

How can effective digital marketing strategies bolster the success of your dispensary in Michigan’s competitive cannabis market? Following the legalization of adult-use recreational cannabis under the Taxation of Marihuana Act, the state now has 86 licensed consumption establishments. To stand out, you need robust digital marketing. First, utilize search engine optimization to increase your online visibility. Second, use social media platforms to engage with your audience and promote your brand. A successful Program to promote your dispensary must also include partnerships with local businesses, ensuring you are involved in the marijuana community. Remember, any marketing approach should abide by state regulations, emphasizing VERTICAL INTEGRATION of compliance into all strategies. This way, you will navigate Michigan’s cannabis market effectively.

Local Community Engagement

Building strong community ties is a crucial aspect of marketing your Michigan dispensary, serving as a bridge between effective digital strategies and real-world customer engagement. It’s essential to engage with local organizations and businesses to build partnerships and gain visibility. Implementing loyalty programs and referral systems can foster customer retention and promote word-of-mouth marketing.

In compliance with specific legal requirements, you must submit a prequalification during the prequalification phase. Consult an attorney to understand these laws before drafting your marketing strategy to avoid facing legal issues. Participation in Michigan’s Social Equity program can offer advantages such as reduced fees, while also supporting communities impacted by cannabis laws. Local community engagement and hiring local staff are key strategies for successful marketing and operation.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Do You Need to Open a Dispensary in Michigan?

The financial requirements to open a dispensary in Michigan can vary depending on several factors. Overall, the estimated total cost can be around $618,000, excluding inventory. This cost includes application and licensing fees, real estate fees, salaries, professional fees, security and technology expenses, and marketing costs. It’s crucial to have a comprehensive business plan and understand Michigan’s cannabis laws to navigate this complex process efficiently.

How Much Do Dispensary Owners Make in Michigan?

Profitability for dispensary owners in Michigan can vary greatly based on factors such as location, competition, and operational efficiency. While exact figures are proprietary, the robust cannabis market in Michigan, which is projected to reach $3 billion by 2024, suggests substantial revenue potential. Success largely depends on the owner’s ability to navigate regulatory demands, secure a prime location, and effectively manage costs.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Dispensary License in Michigan?

The process to obtain a dispensary license in Michigan involves two steps: prequalification and final licensure. The prequalification stage, which includes background checks on the main and supplemental applicants, takes approximately six months to complete. Following successful prequalification, the application can progress to the final licensure phase. Therefore, the total time to get a dispensary license can vary significantly depending on individual circumstances.

What Is the Cheapest State to Open a Dispensary?

When considering cost-effectiveness for opening a dispensary, Michigan emerges as a viable option. The state’s Social Equity Program provides reduced fees for eligible applicants, making it more affordable. Additionally, Michigan boasts numerous Green-Zoned properties suitable for cannabis businesses. However, costs can vary significantly depending on multiple factors, so it’s crucial to conduct thorough research and consider all expenses, including licensing, real estate, and operational costs.

How Client Verge Can Help Your Dispensary

Are you having difficulty wondering how to start a marijuana dispensary in Michigan? Even after reading this guide, are you still not sure where to begin in the process? Don’t feel bad. Instead, consider reading out to us at Client Verge for all of your digital marketing needs, including some advice on getting your dispensary up and running.

We have the solutions ready for you with several years of experience under our belt and an extensive team involved in the cannabis industry. We use our profound knowledge of the cannabis industry to foster a marketing effort to develop your targeted audience.

Besides Dispensaries, We Offer Services To:

  • Cannabidiol (CBD) Shops
  • Hemp, or Industrial Hemp Stores and Products
  • Cannabis Lawyers
  • Psilocybin Mushrooms (Magic Mushrooms) Businesses
  • Vape Shops
  • Botanicals & Creams Businesses
  • Alternative Health Shops

Key Services Include:


The cost of opening a dispensary in Michigan is an intimidating factor for many, mainly when you discuss all of the other requirements for creating a successful cannabis business. Regardless, there are plenty of success stories out there, so why can’t you join in on the success story train?

Nevertheless, if you have any questions on how to open a dispensary in Michigan, what we offer, or anything related to the subject, feel free to contact us. We look forward to hearing from you and discussing the importance of a digital marketing agency for a dispensary.


Marshan B.

Marshan Beals is a co-partner at Client Verge Inc. With 8 years of experience in digital marketing, his expertise extends beyond digital marketing for cannabis brands. He is also a sponsor of the High Profits ebook, available for download when you sign up for our email list.