How to Start a Cannabis Business with No Money

How to Start a Cannabis Business with No Money

The simple reality is that if you are an entrepreneur in the United States of America, then you’re certainly in the right country. This is known as the land of opportunity, and for good reason, because starting your own business is one of the best ways to turn a healthy profit. As you might know, the hemp and cannabis landscape is quickly changing for the better as far as business is concerned in the United states.

In fact, according to Fortune Business Insights, in 2022, the cannabis market was worth well over $43 billion, with a projected potential of reaching over $444 billion by 2030. Of course, with so many billions of dollars floating around in this space, it provides cannabis entrepreneurs with a great way to make some money.

Speaking of money however, to start your own cannabis business, you’ll need some of it to begin with. Starting a cannabis business can unfortunately be somewhat expensive, which means that you need funding. Therefore, how to start a cannabis business with no money is exactly what we’re going to teach you today.

We’re going to talk about roughly how much it costs to start a cannabis business in the USA, what types of cannabis businesses there are, how you can get funding for your cannabis business, and what some of the best cannabis business loan providers are. Let’s get to it and help you start a cannabis business with a limited budget.

Is Cannabis Legal in the USA?

Is Cannabis Legal in the USA?
Is Cannabis Legal in the USA?

Before we start talking about starting your own cannabis business in the USA, it’s really important to talk about the legal aspect. The simple reality is that the cannabis and hemp landscape in the United States of America is one of the most complicated sectors of all. The reason for this is because the federal government and individual state governments often have conflicting laws that make life very difficult for cannabis businesses of all sorts.

First, we have the federal government, which officially legalized hemp derived CBD products, as well as some other hemp-derived cannabinoid products. In the grand scheme of things, this means that any product that is derived from the hemp plant and contains less than 0.3% of Delta-9 THC should be totally legal at a federal level. This means that effectively speaking, CBD and many other cannabinoids are legal across the country.

However, things aren’t quite the same as far as individual states are concerned. This is because individual states can all make their own laws. Therefore, some states completely agree with the federal government and have only legalized CBD or hemp products, whereas some have legalized medical marijuana, with many now having also legalized recreational marijuana. Therefore, before you start your own cannabis business in the United States, make sure to check local and state laws.

An important fact to keep in mind here is that even if you do live in a state where recreational marijuana is 100% legal, you still need to watch out for the federal government. Although state authorities won’t shut you down if you have a recreational marijuana dispensary in a state where it is legal, the federal government could still technically come after you.

With that being said, with the changing cannabis landscape, the United States federal government seems to have moved away from harassing cannabis dispensaries. Therefore, no matter the type of cannabis business you want to start in the USA, you should be safe, although caution is recommended.

Technically speaking, marijuana that contains more than 0.3% delta 9 THC is still illegal at a federal level, which is actually one of the reasons why getting funding is so difficult. As you’ll find out further below, getting any kind of legitimate bank or government funding for a cannabis business, specifically for one that sells marijuana, can be quite difficult.

Types of Cannabis Businesses to Start in the USA

OK, so when we are talking about a cannabis business, we generally assume that people are talking about dispensaries, or in other words both storefront and online locations that sell marijuana products.

This could include marijuana flower, concentrates, edibles, topicals, and anything in between. However, this is really just the tip of the iceberg, because there is more than one business type besides the dispensary.

For instance, you could always start a cannabis business focused on cultivation. In other words, you could become a weed or hemp cultivator with a huge farm that grows many acres of plants.

If that doesn’t sound like something for you, you could also start a legitimate cannabis laboratory to determine the chemical codes of cannabis products, and much more.

Furthermore, there are also manufacturing businesses, ones that extract CBD and THC from raw flour and then turn it into many different products, such as topicals, tinctures, vaporizer cartridges, edibles, and more.

If that still doesn’t suit your fancy, you could try becoming a distributor, which means that you transport manufactured goods and flower throughout the supply chain.

With that being said, when most people talk about starting a cannabis business in the USA, they are usually referring to a dispensary, so this is what we will focus on for today. Let’s move on and figure out how much it costs to open a cannabis business in the USA.

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Cannabis Business in the USA?

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Cannabis Business in the USA?
How Much Does it Cost to Start a Cannabis Business in the USA?

Before we start talking about where you can get your funding from for your cannabis business, it’s pretty important for you to know how much it actually costs to open a cannabis dispensary in the USA. Generally speaking, you can expect to spend anywhere between $150,000 and $2 million.

Of course, that is a huge range, and it all depends on many different factors. For instance, depending on the state you live in, it could cost you up to $5000 just to get a license to sell cannabis.

Furthermore, you could also potentially spend up to $100,000 on rent per year, $50,000 per year on professional services, $250,000 per year on staffing, another $50,000 per year on surveillance and security systems, about $1500 per pound of raw cannabis product, and more.

The fact is that there are many different factors that you need to take into account when opening a cannabis business. For instance, if you’re only opening an online retail site, then you won’t need to deal with real estate, staffing, or anything else of this sort. However, as soon as you start thinking about opening an actual dispensary storefront, then the costs can become quite significant.

Between staffing, building or buying a physical storefront, paying your rent or mortgage, security and surveillance needs, buying products, insurance, professional services, and much more, you could spend up to $2 million.

Of course, today’s piece is all about starting a cannabis business with no money, or just very limited funds. There’s a pretty big difference between no money and $2,000,000, which means that you need to find a way to get some funding. How to get funding for a cannabis business is exactly what we’re about to teach you directly below.

How to Get Funding for a Cannabis Business

How to Get Funding for a Cannabis Business
How to Get Funding for a Cannabis Business

As you can see, starting a cannabis business can be quite costly, but luckily for you, there are some good ways to get funding. Right now, we want to take a look at no less than seven different sources you could possibly get funding from to start your new cannabis business.

Personal Funding

We aren’t going to spend too much time on this point, because the whole article is all about how to start a cannabis business without much money. However, the bottom line here is that one of the easiest ways to fund a cannabis business is with your own money.

Of course, you need to consider your own economic and financial situation before investing your own money into a business that could potentially fail.

With that being said, if nobody else is willing to give you money, you might just have to rely on yourself. If you just don’t have the funds for this, move on and take a look at some of the other options at your disposal.

Private Funding

By private funding, what is meant is that you could always ask your friends, family members, and other acquaintances for investments. Exactly what type of investment you get here is up to you. For instance, it could just be a friendly loan between you and your family members and friends. On the other hand, it could also be a legitimate investment.

In other words, you could offer to sell some equity or stake in a new cannabis company in exchange for an investment. Simply put, just like a publicly traded company, you could sell off a part of the company in exchange for funding.

Reinvesting Profits

Although this is not an option for everybody, it’s always a possibility to reinvest some of your current profits. Starting a cannabis business doesn’t mean that you have to start at the top. In fact, many people start at the very bottom. For instance, this can mean that you start your own cannabis retail website without a storefront.

You could operate a very small yet successful online store for a number of months or years and continuously save up your profits.

Eventually, you could then use these profits to open up a legitimate cannabis dispensary storefront somewhere in your state of choice. Remember, starting a business doesn’t always happen overnight. This is something that could take many months or years.


Something else you could try doing is engaging in crowdfunding. For those who don’t know what crowdfunding is, this is when you pitch an idea online, over what is known as a crowdfunding platform. Crowdfunding platforms are home to potentially thousands or even hundreds of thousands of investors all looking for the next big project to invest in.

There are dozens, if not hundreds of crowdfunding platforms in the USA, with some of them even being specifically dedicated to cannabis.

For instance, SeedInvest is at this time one of the largest and most popular cannabis crowdfunding platforms out there, with over $350 million having been raised for cannabis startups since its inception. Furthermore, Arcview is another fantastic crowdfunding platform specifically for cannabis and other alternative companies.

What About Bank and Government Loans?

What About Bank and Government Loans?
What About Bank and Government Loans?

Okay, so one thing that many people might wonder is why they can’t just go to get a bank loan or a small business loan from the government. Well, if you recall, the issue here is that cannabis, specifically marijuana containing more than 0.3% delta 9 THC, is not legal at the federal level.

Furthermore, it’s also not legal in various states. Therefore, big banks usually stay away from cannabis businesses in general. Banks and other such large entities don’t want to be associated with the cannabis industry at this time, due to the potential for the federal government to come after them for legal violations.

Therefore, your chances of getting a bank or government loan for your cannabis business they’re virtually zero. However, as you can see from the rest of the list, there are plenty of other options you can go with.

Credit Unions

What you can try doing is going to credit unions. Unlike banks, credit unions tend to be a little more lenient in terms of who they are going to give money to. With that being said, a credit union is probably one of the last places that you should get any kind of loan from.

The reason for this is because credit unions generally know that people who go to them are somewhat desperate for cash, and they charge through the nose. You could pay several thousand per month just for the opportunity to get money from a credit union.

Cannabis Business Loan Providers

One of the most interesting ways to get funding for your cannabis business is to get a loan from a cannabis business loan provider.

As you can probably tell, these are special providers designed specifically to give people loans when they want to start a cannabis business. Move on to the section below to find out what some of the best cannabis business loan providers are.

Best Cannabis Business Loan Providers

Right now, we want to take a look at some of the best and most trusted cannabis business loan providers out there.

Remember, these are companies or venture capital firms that invest specifically in cannabis companies. This is probably one of your best chances of getting any substantial amount of money for your new cannabis business.

United Capital Source

United Capital Source is often considered to be one of the best sources if you need financing for any kind of high risk sector, whether cannabis or otherwise. This provider needs only minimum documentation, and you might even be able to qualify for a loan in spite of poor credit. Generally speaking, the APR is 5% at the least, you need a credit score of 550, and loan terms can range anywhere from 36 to 120 months.

Dynamic Alternative Finance

Dynamic Alternative Finance is another leading cannabis business loan provider at this time. In fact, it focuses specifically on cannabis companies. Here, you can get equipment leases, capital loans, real estate loans, and more. They have a very easy application process, and most people should be able to qualify as long as they meet the minimum requirements.

Diamond Business Loans

Here we have a California-based lender that is great for cannabis startups as long as you have solid credit. They work specifically with businesses that struggle finding funding from other sources, with cannabis businesses of course being one type. You’ll need a minimum credit score of 680, and their rates start at about 5.9%. Here, you can get a loan up to $150,000.


GoKapital Allows people to get cannabis business loans through cash advances. Here, you can get a huge lump sum of cash that you then have to repay through a percentage with your daily debit and credit card sales, along with a fee.

This is a really unique way of going about this process, because it allows you to get massive loans and easily pay them off through your daily sales.

Interesting to note is that as long as you have a credit score of $500 and annual sales of at least $150,000, and you’ve been in business for at least four months, then you should be able to get a cash advance of up to $5 million.


What it really comes down to here is that finding funding as a new cannabis business can be quite a challenge. Starting a cannabis business with no money is admittedly quite difficult. However, as you can see from above, there are plenty of legitimate ways to get funding.

Although you might not be able to go to a bank to get a business loan, there are plenty of credit unions, cannabis business loan providers, and other options out there. Between all of the options, you should be able to find at least one to get some funding.

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Fabian R.

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. With close to a decade of professional experience, my expertise lies in content writing, blogging, and copywriting. I've dedicated the past 10 years to crafting content centered around health, fitness, and cannabis subjects. My strengths include exceptional writing abilities, effective communication, and a track record of delivering swift results.