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How to Open a Dispensary in Massachusetts

September 14, 2022

Did you know that Massachusetts got its name from a Native American Tribe called Massachuset? It means the Great Hill or Great Mountain, which refers to the Blue Hills just south of Boston (the capital of Massachusetts).

Massachusetts is deemed to be the first state on the east coast to legalize recreational marijuana businesses in 2016, allowing for limited possession and sale of cannabis for recreational use. The state government only allowed medical marijuana from nonprofit dispensaries until that point. It remains illegal to use marijuana in public in Massachusetts.

Therefore, If you are 21 and older with a clean criminal record and are aimed at starting a business in the marijuana industry, you have some options in Massachusetts to consider. You can open a dispensary, manufacture marijuana products, cultivate or grow marijuana, open an RMD (a registered marijuana dispensary), or run a marijuana lab. 

Seek information on how to open a dispensary in Massachusetts. This article will take you through the necessary dispensary application process, fees, and general requirements to help you with the consecutive process of opening a dispensary in Massachusetts. 

How to Get a Massachusetts Dispensary license 

Dispensary applicants must consider the application requirements that are set forth by the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) and must visit its website to apply for a dispensary license.

There are two types of dispensaries in Massachusetts: a recreational dispensary and Marijuana Treatment Center. Dispensary license applicants are accepted on a rolling basis. Priority is granted to Social Equity or Economic Empowerment applicants. 

The first and primary step to starting the application process is to ensure that you have filled up the application thoroughly and submitted all necessary information.

After signing up for an account on Massachusetts Cannabis Industry Portal, you can submit your marijuana establishment license application. Once your application review is complete, you will be notified to prepare for provisional license fees, which must be paid within 90 days. 

Opening a Recreational Dispensary 

Those eager to open a dispensary for recreational use in Massachusetts must obtain a recreational license through Cannabis Control Commission. Each applicant must be ready to submit to a strict background check that will also include financial information. Once you apply for the dispensary application on the corresponding web portal, the review will take up to 90 days. You will need to meet additional requirements upon approval. 

No entity may obtain more than three marijuana dispensary licenses in Massachusetts.

Medical Marijuana Treatment Center

A Medical Marijuana Treatment Center or MTC is an entity that follows medical regulations and standards in Massachusetts. It may cultivate, possess, process, transport, sell, distribute and administer cannabis or cannabis products or informational materials for medical use to qualified patients or their personal caregivers.

After getting Commission’s approval, MTCs are authorized to provide patients and caregivers with marijuana and its products. 

The Commission considers license applications in a specific order set by regulations.

Here is the step-by-step application process for you to follow:

You must visit the Cannabis Control Commission website to obtain a dispensary license. 

Sign up to make an account on the Massachusetts Cannabis Industry Portal (to be linked). After you go through authorization and log in, find the option “Apply for a Marijuana Retailer License” and click “Start Application.” Fill out all – applications of Intent, background check, management, and operations profiles.

How Much is it to Open a Dispensary in Massachusetts

Start-up costs to open a dispensary in Massachusetts are estimated to range from $300,000 to over $1 million. The price may comprise the application and license fees and the cost of establishing a dispensary, including consulting fees, permits, and the necessary insurance for your marijuana business. 

Recreational Dispensary 

  • $300 -application fee  $31’500 – Retail Store License Fee, Testing Lab, Product Manufacturer or Micro-business Fee.

Registered Marijuana Dispensary 

  • $1’500 – application fee
  • $30’000 – management and operation profile fee
  • $50’000 – new or renewed License fee

As mentioned above, priority is being given to social equity applicants or Economic Empowerment applicants in the application process. 

Social equity license campaign has been developed to benefit individuals and communities damaged by the enforcement of Arizona’s previous marijuana laws. The priority is given to the districts that have high indicators of poverty and unemployment.

Follow the link to see the detailed guide of social equity initial establishment. 

Choose the Right Partners

One of the essential points to operating a successful cannabis dispensary business is to choose the right partners for your dispensary, especially software providers. Implementing the POS and inventory tracking software is the key to keeping your business compliant. 

Metrc is the system that the Bay State employs to follow marijuana businesses from seed to sale, and it is the one that IndicaOnline is integrated with. It has become the attractive standard for thousands of users as it tightens the security of regulated cannabis markets, simplifies product recall, documents chain of custody, ensures proper tax revenue accounting, and eases inspection, auditing and reporting bardens. 

IndicaOnline is one of the all-in-one compliant solutions for dispensaries, and it’s for the best price on the market. Our primary mission is to automate everyday tasks like inventory management, Metrc reports for you. Hence, the only job you have left to do is to focus on giving your customers the best service they deserve. 

What Else Do I Need to Open a Dispensary?

Mobilize Capital

Take into consideration that start-up costs to open a dispensary in the states, and in Massachusetts require a pretty large amount of capital to invest. That’s why it would be best if you acquire funding before you submit the application to get marijuana business license. 

Find Your Location

When it comes to finding a location for your cannabis dispensary, you must consider each city has its ordinances, and the state sets forth regulations to comply with. So, you should learn if the city municipality regulation will allow you to open a dispensary at a certain street or a district. General law for all cannabis dispensaries is that they must cover the distance limit prohibition meaning that you are not allowed to open a dispensary near schools, churches, or public recreational parks. 

Let’s have a look once again what steps you need to take to start cannabis dispensary business in Massachusetts:

  • Get acquainted with the laws and regulations of your county or city;
  • Create a comprehensive business plan for your cannabis business;
  • Seek funding and investors for your company; 
  • Determine company partners;
  • Determine company structure;
  • Apply for proper licenses and registration;
  • Pay for license fees and background checks;
  • Select the building or location;
  • Hire your operations team and employees – everyone must pass a background check;
  • Contract with cultivators or manufacturers, distributors, etc.
  • Arrange cannabis warehousing solutions.  


Marijuana businesses in Massachusetts are expanding every day, but the industry is highly regulated and presents a number of barriers for those striving to enter the business. By the guidance above, we hope to have paved the way for you to conduct all necessary procedures to start your dispensary business in Massachusetts. Now, it’s your turn to provide high-quality service and products to customers in need.