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How to Start a Dispensary in Missouri

How to Start a Dispensary in Missouri

With the cannabis market in the USA exploding, it only makes sense to want to get involved in the business. After all, the cannabis industry is currently worth billions of dollars, and it’s set to grow exponentially over the next few decades. The simple reality is that if you are looking to make a profit, then it’s time to get on board the cannabis market.

Furthermore, Missouri is one of the latest places to legalize recreational weed. Therefore, opening up a dispensary in the state of Missouri provides everybody with fantastic profit opportunities.

That being said however, starting a dispensary in the state of Missouri is not as easy as just buying a storefront, purchasing a license, and selling your goods.

In fact, there are quite a few things that you need to know when it comes to how to start a dispensary in Missouri. Let’s get right to it and provide you with all of the information that you need to start your dispensary in the great state of Missouri.

Is Cannabis Legal in Missouri?

Is Cannabis Legal in Missouri?
Is Cannabis Legal in Missouri?

Before we talk about opening a dispensary in Missouri, it’s probably a good idea for you to know the legal status of cannabis. First and foremost, medical cannabis was legalized in Missouri back in 2018. However, just in 2022, at the may term elections, the state also legalized recreational cannabis.

Thanks to this, the state has seen a surge in recreational dispensaries opening up. However, there are many different regulations that you must follow in order to do so legally. An important fact for you to know is that when trying to open a cannabis dispensary in the state of Missouri, it may take you up to 12 months to prepare everything.

This is because you have to start your own business entity, buy all the hardware, take care of funding, get your business license, your recreational marijuana dispensary license, and more. The guide here today we’ll provide you with all the information that you need on this front.

How to Start a Dispensary in Missouri

How to Start a Dispensary in Missouri
How to Start a Dispensary in Missouri

Right now, we’re going to provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to start your own cannabis dispensary in Missouri.

Understand Compliance Laws

Although there are far too many laws for us to cover here, the reality is that starting your own cannabis dispensary in Missouri requires you to navigate through a lot of red tape, to adhere to many different laws, and to keep many regulations in mind.

What it really comes down to is compliance. You need to be compliant on many different fronts, whether we are talking about having a license, being insured, using the right equipment, choosing the right location, and much more.

If the state of Missouri finds that you are not compliant on any one of these fronts, then they can revoke your dispensary license, and may even take legal action against you. Therefore, make sure to do an adequate amount of research to determine exactly what you need to do in order to remain compliant.

Creating Your Business Entity

One of the first things that you should do when opening a dispensary in Missouri is to create a formal business entity. In order to operate any such kind of business, whether a dispensary or an ice cream shop, you need to form a legitimate business entity. This means that you could form a sole proprietorship, partnership, and LLC, or even a corporation.

Generally speaking, either a sole proprietorship or a limited liability company are best for cannabis retail stores. In fact, the limited liability that an LLC provides you with is perfect for a cannabis dispensary, because it reduces the amount of liability that you, the individual owner, are faced with in the event that something goes wrong.

Either way, you’ll need to create a formal business plan, list who is a part of the business, what the purpose of the business is, and fill out your articles of organization. Once you fill out the articles of organization with the state of Missouri, they will either approve or deny you. If all is in order with your application, the state of Missouri will grant your business license, in which case you can move on to the next step.

Choose a Location

Next, you need to choose a location for your dispensary in Missouri. According to regulations, any dispensary or cannabis facility must be at least 1000 feet away from any secondary school, elementary school, church, or daycare.

Unfortunately, this is measured in a straight line from the closest external wall of the dispensary to the closest property point of the church, daycare, or school.

There are however also individual districts that may increase this limit. In other words, you have to make sure that you aren’t near any such buildings, or else you will not be approved when it comes time to get your license.

Furthermore, when choosing the location, you should also consider an area that has great foot traffic, as well as an area that provides you with opportunities for growth. Choosing a good location is always important no matter the type of business.

Secure Funding

Unless you are lucky enough to have enough money to fund the dispensary by yourself, you’ll then need to find funding. There are several options that you have at your disposal here, including private funding from friends and family members, selling equity of your business, going to private lenders, focusing on cannabis based lenders, or even going to a bank for an official loan.

With that being said, due to the legal status of cannabis in the USA, you probably won’t be able to get any kind of bank loan. Most banks just aren’t willing to work with cannabis businesses. Therefore, selling equity, going to a credit union, or even going to a cannabis based lender will be your most likely options.

Something to keep in mind here is that starting a dispensary in the USA, no matter the state, may cost you up to $2 million. Keep in mind that you’ll need to pay for your cannabis dispensary, your license, the location itself, rental or mortgage costs, you need to account for staff costs, inventory costs, POS systems and hardware, and much more.

You then also need to account for insurance that you’ll need to keep yourself covered in the event that something goes wrong. Furthermore, when you apply for your dispensary license, you need to prove that you have funding available. You won’t be able to get a license if you can’t prove that you can actually pay for your business.

Keep Inventory Management in Mind

Something else you need to think about when opening a dispensary in Missouri is inventory management. In Missouri, you must appoint an individual who is responsible for controlling inventory, particularly for inventory procedures and systems.

This person is known as a facility agent. This is a state regulation, and moreover, you also need to have a DHS certified seed to sale tracking system for inventory management. Therefore, selecting a good POS system is the next step on the list.

Choose a Good Cannabis POS System

In the state of Missouri, you are required to have a good POS system for your cannabis dispensary. For those who don’t know, POS stands for point of sale. This goes hand in hand with any good inventory management system in terms of efficiency and compliance. In fact, Missouri state law requires you to have both of these things.

Missouri cannabis POS systems have to be able to record the beginning inventory, sales of unprocessed cannabis, concentrates, and infused products, as well as monitor acquisitions, disbursements, disposals, remediations, transfers, and ending inventory.

Having a good POS system is not just beneficial in terms of compliance, but also in terms of your ability to effectively run a profitable business.

Choose Dispensary Hardware

Next on the list, if you plan on opening your own dispensary in Missouri, you also need to buy all of the necessary hardware to make the operation come together. Ideally, having hardware that works hand in hand with your POS and inventory management systems is ideal.

For instance, to effectively weigh out and package your products, you’ll need some scales. Well, these scales should have a Bluetooth function so they can easily integrate with your POS system, therefore easily allowing you to record everything you weigh.

This is just one example of how your hardware should easily integrate with your POS system. Other than scales, you’ll also need scanners, tablets, displays, drawers, and more.

Design the Layout of Your Dispensary

The next step in the process of opening up your own dispensary in Missouri is devising the layout of your dispensary. There are a variety of Missouri State regulations that dictate exactly how your dispensary can be laid out. There are site security regulations to follow as well as laws surrounding the visibility of marketing materials.

For instance, the layout of your dispensary has to be created in such a way so that signage and products aren’t visible to the general public outside of the store. In other words, you really aren’t allowed to advertise your cannabis products to the outside world.

The cannabis industry is of course very lucrative, which means that there is a lot of money floating around. Because of this, cannabis dispensaries who wish to operate legally also must follow various security protocols.

For instance, you must have secured areas, areas with limited or no customer access, vaults to keep items secure, video surveillance, alarm systems, secure transportation, and a security system that is fully integrated. A part of your dispensary license application will include your security plan.

Set Up Online Services

Next on the list, a good idea is to set up your online cannabis ordering and delivery services. In other words, for any good dispensary to be successful, a website along with delivery services are required . Of course, having your own website and setting up a delivery service is not mandatory by any means, but it’s certainly a good idea.

The simple reality is that a lot of people just don’t want to leave their houses to purchase their products, and this applies to cannabis just like anything else. If you manage to set up a good online delivery service, chances are that you’ll end up making far more profits than if you just have a brick-and-mortar store alone.

Stand Out From the Crowd and Know the Customers

As far as operating a successful cannabis dispensary in Missouri goes, you also need to be able to stand out from the crowd. There are currently over 100 dispensaries in Missouri, and the number is growing as we speak. Therefore, being able to differentiate yourself from your competition is a big deal.

This means that you want to put analytics and data tracking to use, so you can keep track of itemized product sales, store traffic, demographics, and more.

At the end of the day, it’s all about being able to stand out from the crowd. The difficult aspect here is of course that you can’t really market your cannabis dispensary, due to laws surrounding visible signage and products to the greater public.

It’s always a good idea to have demographic information about your customers, as this will allow for more targeted strategies, so you can create an environment and sell products that will speak to the people.

Get Insured

Interestingly enough, it appears as though at this time, cannabis dispensaries in Missouri aren’t technically obligated to be insured. However, it’s always a good idea to have insurance in case something goes wrong, especially as far as liability insurance is concerned.

Personal liability insurance is the number one type of insurance that you should purchase if you plan on opening a cannabis shop. You don’t want to be personally liable for anything that goes wrong, in the event that the worst were to happen.

Applying for a Missouri Cannabis Dispensary License

Applying for a Missouri Cannabis Dispensary License
Applying for a Missouri Cannabis Dispensary License

Alright, so everything we’ve talked about today in terms of how to open a dispensary in Missouri is completely irrelevant if you can’t get your Missouri cannabis dispensary license.

What you need to know is that there are technically three different types of licenses here, a cultivation license, a dispensary license, and a medical cannabis infused processor license.

For a regular dispensary license, you’ll have to pay a $7,420 non-refundable, along with a $10,600 fee.

One thing to keep in mind is that in order to apply for a cannabis license in Missouri, you have to be a resident of the state for a minimum of one year, and the business has to be majority owned by a resident of Missouri.

You are also not allowed to claim residence in another state. Furthermore, no owners, partial owners, employees, or licensees can have any kind of disqualifying felonies on their records.

You need to go online and fill out the application, which unfortunately includes a whole lot of information. You’re going to have to submit your application along with all of the licensing fees in full using the DHS web-based application. It will then take up to 150 days after you apply to be notified whether or not your license has been awarded.

The big issue with getting a dispensary license in Missouri is that the state only hands out so many over a given period of time. There are however some ways you can increase your chances of winning one of these licenses.

Improving Your Chances of Being Awarded a Dispensary License

If you or anybody who is a part of your team has previous experience in the legal cannabis industry, this will serve as a big benefit to you. Furthermore, having a detailed and up-to-date security plan for keeping your dispensary and the surrounding community secure and safe is also required.

All applications for a dispensary license must include information about at least the top three managers of the business, including a resume, proof of industry experience, and two recommendation letters.

Beyond those things, you’ll also have to show a very detailed, comprehensive, and robust business plan. This includes things like illicit market diversion protection, how to stay competitive, supply chain solutions, vendor information, and more. You should also include some information about social responsibility.


When it comes to how to start a dispensary in Missouri, as you can clearly see, there are quite a few steps that you have to follow. You need to comply with inventory tracking laws, have a good POS system, form a formal business entity, get insured, get your cannabis dispensary license, and more.

With that being said, if you pay close attention to our guide and follow all of the tips and steps as listed above, you should have no problem starting your own dispensary in Missouri. Just remember that legal compliance is the number one factor to consider here, because if any one aspect of your dispensary is not compliant with local laws and regulations, your license could be revoked or never even approved to begin with.

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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.