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How to Get a Dispensary License in Nevada 2024

June 12, 2024

As the cannabis industry continues to expand, entrepreneurs and investors are seeking opportunities to open dispensaries in states where marijuana is legal. Nevada, known for its vibrant cannabis market, offers a lucrative environment for newcomers.

Legalization Timeline:

  • November 2000: Voters approved Question 9, authorizing medical marijuana use.
  • November 2016: Question 2 passed, legalizing recreational marijuana for adults over 21.
  • June 2017: Recreational marijuana sales commenced in Nevada.

As of 2024, there are 101 licensed recreational cannabis dispensaries operating in Nevada. The state’s cannabis industry is overseen by the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board (CCB), which provides comprehensive oversight and regulation.

Opening a cannabis dispensary in Nevada requires careful handling of a series of legal and regulatory steps, and this guide by IndicaOnline provides a detailed roadmap for negotiating these steps and obtaining a dispensary license in Nevada for 2024.

Types of Cannabis Licenses in Nevada

Nevada issues several types of cannabis licenses and establishments, including:

  • Cultivation License: Licensed to cultivate, harvest, and package cannabis, facilities can have cannabis tested by an approved testing facility. They are permitted to sell cannabis to retail stores, cannabis product manufacturing facilities, and other cultivation facilities, but not directly to consumers.
  • Production License: Licensed to purchase, manufacture, process, and package cannabis and cannabis products. These facilities can sell cannabis and cannabis products to other manufacturing facilities and retail cannabis stores but not directly to consumers. 
  • Dispensary License: A dispensary license in Nevada essentially grants permission to operate a retail store for cannabis products.  This license allows you to sell recreational and/or medical marijuana directly to consumers who are at least 21 years old and have a valid ID.
  • Distribution License: Licensed to transport cannabis between cannabis establishments, such as from a cultivation facility to a retail store.
  • Testing Laboratory License: Licensed to perform laboratory testing on cannabis and cannabis products. Their testing services ensure the potency of the cannabis and identify any potential contaminants.

All these licenses are also considered cannabis establishments, each playing a specific role in the cannabis supply chain to ensure safety, compliance, and accessibility.

Step-by-Step Guide to Obtaining a Dispensary License in Nevada

Securing a Nevada dispensary license and operating a retail marijuana business requires the submission of an application through the (CCB). Their website provides the necessary paperwork, which must be completed and presented to their office. 

Step 1: Research and Prepare

  • Market Research: Research the cannabis market in Nevada, including competition, consumer demand, and local regulations. This will help you develop a business plan and identify the best locations for your dispensary.
  • Business Plan: Prepare a detailed business plan outlining your dispensary’s operations, marketing strategies, and financial projections.

Step 2: Legal and Financial Preparation

  • Legal Entity: Establish a legal entity for your business (LLC, corporation, etc.). Consult with an attorney to ensure compliance with state laws.
  • Funding: Ensure sufficient funding and financial stability. Nevada requires proof of financial stability, including a significant amount of liquid capital.

Step 3: Site Selection

  • Location: Dispensaries must be at least 1,000 feet from schools and 300 feet from parks and libraries. 
  • Property: Secure a property lease or purchase agreement for your dispensary location. Ensure the property complies with all local zoning and building codes.

Step 4: Application Process

  • Application: Complete the CCB application form with business details.
  • Documents: Gather your business plan, financial proof, and property documents.
  • Background Checks: All owners and key employees must pass background checks.

Step 5: Submission and Fees

  • Submit Application: Ensure all information is accurate and complete.
  • Application Fee: Pay the $5,000 non-refundable fee. 

Step 6: Inspection and Approval

  • Inspection: The CCB inspects your location.
  • Review: The CCB reviews your application and inspection results.
  • Approval: Receive your license upon passing the compliance review.

Step 7: Post-license Requirements

  • Operational Readiness: Ensure your dispensary is fully operational.
  • Employee Permits: All employees must obtain CCB work permits and training
  • Compliance: Maintain ongoing compliance with state regulations, including regular reporting to the CCB and adherence to security and inventory control measures.

Following these steps ensures a complete application package and facilitates a smooth licensing process.

Timeframe for Nevada Dispensary Licensing

The timeframe to acquire a dispensary license in Nevada can fluctuate, but here’s a simplified breakdown:

  • Application Preparation & Submission: A thorough application typically requires 2-4 weeks to prepare and submit.
  • Review by Department of Taxation: The initial review by the Nevada Department of Taxation can take 2-3 months, depending on application volume.
  • Background Checks & Fingerprinting: Processing background checks and fingerprints for all involved individuals may take 4-6 weeks.
  • Site Inspection: Scheduling and completing a site visit and inspection by regulatory authorities can take 2-4 weeks.
  • Evaluation & Decision: The evaluation and decision-making process can take 2-6 months; it considers factors like compliance, financial stability, security measures, and local zoning.

Cannabis Market in Nevada

According to the Nevada Department of Taxation, total cannabis sales in Nevada for the fiscal year 2023 reached approximately $1.1 billion. This reflects a steady increase from previous years, underscoring the robust demand for cannabis products in the state.

The cannabis industry has also contributed to job creation and economic growth in Nevada: according to a report by the Nevada Dispensary Association (NDA), the cannabis sector supports thousands of jobs in various roles, including cultivation, production, retail, and ancillary services.

The economic impact of the cannabis industry extends beyond direct employment, influencing sectors such as real estate, construction, and tourism. The growth of cannabis tourism, particularly in Las Vegas, has attracted visitors seeking legal cannabis experiences, further boosting the state’s economy.

Maintaining Compliance in Nevada’s Cannabis Market

Selecting the right technology partner is crucial for Nevada cannabis businesses to comply with regulations. Licensed retailers must utilize the Metrc tracking system for inventory control, as mandated by law.

Metrc tracks cannabis from cultivation to sale, ensuring adherence to state laws and tax collection. POS systems integrate with Metrc to manage sales, inventory, and customer data seamlessly, enabling real-time transaction recording and reporting. IndicaOnline provides a compliant solution encompassing POS software, delivery, and e-commerce platforms. Our integrated system streamlines compliance, offering transparency for regulators and patients. Dispensaries can effortlessly track products, generate reports automatically, and manage inventory and customers without manual updates.

Nevada Dispensary Regulations

  • Licensing Requirements

Dispensaries must obtain a license from the CCB to operate legally. The application process involves submitting detailed plans for security, inventory management, and operations. More information on licensing can be found on the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board‘s licensing page.

  • Security Measures

Dispensaries must implement stringent security measures, including surveillance systems, alarm systems, and secure storage for cannabis products. These measures are crucial to prevent theft and unauthorized access. Surveillance footage must be retained for at least 90 days.

  • Advertising and Marketing

The advertising of cannabis products is subject to stringent regulations to ensure it does not target minors or make false or misleading claims. All advertisements must include a health warning and be approved by the CCB before dissemination. Dispensaries are prohibited from using marketing strategies that appeal to children, such as cartoon characters. Detailed advertising guidelines are available on the CCB advertising page.

  • Zoning Laws

Prior to finalizing a location, thorough research of local and state zoning laws is essential. Additionally, verify that your chosen location adheres to state regulations concerning the proximity of dispensaries to schools, parks, and other community facilities. In Nevada, marijuana retail facilities must be at least 1,000 feet away from private or public schools if the school existed before the license application was submitted. They must also be at least 300 feet from a community facility if it existed before the licensing application.

  • Packaging and Labeling

Nevada has established clear rules for packaging and labeling marijuana products. These are enforced by two government agencies: the Nevada Department of Taxation and the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health. These laws ensure marijuana products are correctly labeled with clear information and are in safe, secure packaging.

Ensuring Full Regulatory Compliance

Obtaining a Nevada dispensary license in 2024 requires a structured and thorough approach involving a comprehensive understanding of the legal requirements set by the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board. You must prepare all necessary documents carefully, such as business plans, financial statements, and security protocols. Selecting a location that complies with zoning laws and meets operational requirements is essential. Additionally, strict adherence to all state and local regulations governing dispensary operations is crucial. By following these steps and utilizing resources from the CCB, you can negotiate the application process with confidence and establish a compliant and profitable dispensary.