How to Open a Dispensary in Delaware

7 min read

How to Open a Dispensary in Delaware

March 17, 2023

Opening a cannabis dispensary in Delaware can be a complex process that involves complying with state regulations, obtaining necessary licenses and permits, and establishing a solid business plan. As cannabis laws continue evolving across the United States, many entrepreneurs seek to enter this rapidly growing industry. In Delaware, medical marijuana has been legal since 2011, and with the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in neighboring states, many believe it is only a matter of time before Delaware follows suit.

This guide on how to open a dispensary in Delaware will provide an overview of the steps essential to open a cannabis dispensary in Delaware, including the legal requirements, financial considerations, and operational aspects of running a successful dispensary. By following these guidelines and doing the necessary research and preparation, aspiring dispensary owners can increase their chances of success in this exciting and challenging industry. 

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How to Get a Dispensary License in Delaware

The regulation of cannabis business licensing and the medical marijuana card program for patients in Delaware are under the purview of the Office of Medical Marijuana (OMM). The OMM not only evaluates and determines the approval of licensing applications submitted by potential cannabis business owners, but it also manages the medical marijuana card program for patients.

Types of Delaware Dispensary Licenses

In Delaware, there are three types of dispensary licenses available for cannabis businesses:

  1. Compassion Center: This license is issued to dispensaries allowed to cultivate, process, and sell medical marijuana to registered patients in Delaware.
  2. Standalone Dispensary: This license is issued to dispensaries that only sell medical marijuana to registered patients in the state but are not allowed to cultivate or process it.
  3. Testing Facility: This license is issued to laboratories that test cannabis products for safety and potency, as required by state regulations.

Each type of license has its own specific requirements and limitations. Applicants must carefully review and understand the regulations for each license type before applying. Additionally, each license has its own associated fees, and the application process can be complex and time-consuming.

Dispensary License Applications

To apply for a dispensary license in Delaware, applicants must first meet certain eligibility criteria and submit a completed application to the Office of Medical Marijuana (OMM). The application process is highly competitive, and the OMM only awards a limited number of licenses.

The application requirements vary depending on the type of license being sought. Still, they typically include detailed information about the applicant’s business plan, financial stability, security measures, and experience in the cannabis industry. Applicants must also undergo a criminal background check and provide evidence of compliance with state and local zoning laws.

Once the application is submitted, the OMM will review it and thoroughly investigate the applicant’s qualifications, including an on-site inspection of the proposed dispensary location. The OMM may also require additional information or documentation from the applicant during the review process.

If the application is approved, the applicant will be issued a provisional license and must then undergo a final inspection before being granted a full license. The entire process can take several months to complete, and applicants should be prepared to invest significant time and resources into the application process.

How Much Does It Cost to Open a Dispensary in Delaware?

To open a dispensary in Delaware is not cheap. Applicants are required to pay a bi-annual, non-refundable license application fee of $5,000. If certified, there is a license fee of $40,000 to be paid bi-annually.

In total, it is estimated that the total cost to open a dispensary in Delaware can range from $500,000 to $1 million or more, depending on the specifics of the business. Prospective dispensary owners should carefully consider these costs and develop a comprehensive business plan before embarking on the application process.

How to Draft a Business Plan for Your Dispensary in Delaware

Drafting a comprehensive business plan is a crucial component while navigating how to open a dispensary in Delaware topic.  A comprehensive business plan should provide an overview of your goals, target market, and financial projections. 

Conduct a thorough analysis of the local market, including your competitors, target customer demographics, and consumer demand for medical marijuana. Detail the legal and regulatory requirements for operating a dispensary in Delaware, including licensing, compliance with state and local zoning laws, and security requirements.

Outline the key members of your management team, including their experience and qualifications, as well as any legal or consulting services you will need to engage. Detail your expected startup costs, ongoing operational expenses, and projected revenue streams, including income from medical marijuana sales and any additional products or services you plan to offer in Delaware.

Identify and evaluate any risks that could impact your business in Delaware, including potential regulatory changes, market competition, and financial risks.

By creating a comprehensive business plan covering all these areas, you can demonstrate your industry knowledge and ability to succeed in a highly competitive market. Additionally, a solid business plan can help you secure financing and attract investors to open a dispensary.


BioTrackTHC provides technology solutions for businesses and the government in Delaware to track products throughout the supply chain to the point of sale. The software systems help businesses remain compliant with regulations and monitor data for things like inventory management.

Find the Right Location to Open a Dispensary in Delaware

Once you have obtained your license, you will need to find a suitable location for your dispensary that is zoned for commercial use. The zoning regulations in Delaware vary by municipality, so you will need to research the specific zoning laws in the area where you want to open a dispensary.

Some municipalities may require dispensaries in Delaware to be located a certain distance from schools, churches, or other public and sensitive areas. You must comply with these regulations to obtain any necessary permits and approvals.

Delaware Security Regulations 

In Delaware, dispensaries are subject to strict security regulations to prevent theft, diversion, or unauthorized access to medical cannabis. The regulations are designed to ensure the safety of patients, employees, and the surrounding community.

Here are some of the key security regulations for medical cannabis dispensaries in Delaware:

  • Dispensaries in Delaware are required to have a fully operational alarm and surveillance system that includes 24-hour recording and monitoring of all areas of the facility, including the parking lot.
  • Access to the dispensary must be limited to authorized personnel only, and an employee must escort visitors at all times. Dispensaries must also have a secure area for the storage of medical cannabis.
  • All employees and owners of the dispensary must undergo a criminal background check before being hired.
  • Medical cannabis must be transported in a secure vehicle equipped with an alarm and surveillance system.
  • Dispensaries must have a detailed inventory control system in place to track all medical cannabis products from seed to sale.
  • Delaware dispensaries must comply with all state regulations and report any theft, diversion, or loss of medical cannabis to the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services.

How to Get Funding to Open a Dispensary in Delaware  

In Delaware, federal banks or banks operating on the national level are hesitant when it comes to working with cannabis companies because they are afraid of the repercussions involved with the industry that is still not legal nationwide. However, there are several funding options you might consider while opening a dispensary in Delaware: 

Private Lenders –  these companies specialize in canna-businesses and have worked out specially tailored solutions for dispensaries in Delaware

Online Lenders These companies are typically more flexible than banks and may be willing to work with you even if you have bad credit. If that is the case, you can expect higher interest rates and possibly less-favorable terms.

Angel InvestorsAngel investors usually invest in technology startups, but some don’t shy away from the cannabis industry, either.

Venture Capital Investors – Venture capitalists are firms or funds that invest in early-stage or growing startup companies in Delaware. They often invest large sums of money than angel investors and may be more interested in a hands-on role in the company. They also demand equity in your venture in return for funds and access to their business connections.

Crowdfunding – crowdfunding platforms, such as Fundanna or CannaFundr, allow businesses to raise money from many individuals in exchange for equity or other rewards.


In conclusion, opening a cannabis dispensary in Delaware can be a complex process, requiring significant planning, regulatory compliance, and funding. However, for those willing to navigate the regulations and requirements, there can be a significant opportunity for success in the state’s growing medical cannabis market. For additional information about Delaware marijuana laws, click here.

While the federal prohibition of cannabis may present some challenges for cannabis businesses, the state of Delaware has taken steps to establish a robust and regulated medical cannabis industry. By staying up-to-date on regulations and requirements and seeking out opportunities for funding and support, entrepreneurs can help to shape this emerging industry and bring safe, high-quality medical cannabis products to patients in need. 

Please, also make sure to stay up-to-date on any updates or changes. Dispensaries should consult with legal and security experts to ensure they comply with all necessary regulations and requirements.