Starting a cannabis company in Washington, D.C.? We’ve put together a state-specific guide covering everything from available license types to fees, regulations, and what you should include in an Washington, D.C., cannabis business plan. Jump to a section by clicking below, or go straight to our sample cannabis business plan.
Recreational and medical marijuana are both legal in Washington, D.C. Patients with a written recommendation from a doctor can possess up to 4 ounces of cannabis each month, as well as grow it at home. More than 9,000 patients have registered for medical marijuana use in D.C., and 2021 sales of medical marijuana via D.C. dispensaries could be as high as $21 million.
The District of Columbia has yet to establish a regulated market for recreational cannabis. Since D.C. is governed by the U.S. Congress, it will be up to them to create a legal market for the sale of cannabis products. Adults can possess up to 2 ounces for recreational use, as well as up to six marijuana plants per person. Some local businesses sell home-grow equipment, while others operate in the “gray market” as pop-up shops or delivery services.
Washington, D.C., issues licenses for three broad categories of medical cannabis businesses: dispensaries, cultivation centers (aka grow operations), and testing labs.
Dispensary: This is a retail storefront where patients can purchase marijuana. Dispensaries must follow strict protocols for product tracking, security, record-keeping, and hiring.
Cultivation Center: These businesses, also called grow operations, grow cannabis plants indoors or outdoors. Some cultivators also produce items like edibles, capsules, and oils. Marijuana is then sold through a dispensary. Cultivation centers are allowed to transport marijuana to dispensaries.
Testing facility: Consumers and regulators alike demand consistency and quality control in cannabis products, which creates demand for marijuana testing labs. These labs use methods like liquid or gas chromatography to analyze products for CBD and THC content, pesticides, terpenes, bacteria, fungi, and heavy metals, to name a few.
Ancillary business: If you don’t want to grow or sell cannabis in Washington, D.C., there are plenty of other ways to be part of the cannabis industry. You can create a marijuana app, payment processing service, advertising agency, consulting firm, pest management product, accounting firm, automated plant watering system, security service, packaging labeling service, or legal firm--and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
Application fees: There are no application fees to apply for a cannabis business license in Washington, D.C.
License fees: It’s $16,000 for a medical marijuana dispensary license in Washington, D.C., and $11,000 for a cultivator. Testing labs pay $7,500 years. All licenses are discounted in the first year of operations.
Yes, a business plan is required to get a medical marijuana dispensary license in Washington, D.C. The District of Columbia Department of Health says, “The applicant shall provide a business plan that describes how the dispensary will operate on a long-term basis. This shall include...a detailed description about the amount and source of the equity and debt commitment for the proposed dispensary that demonstrates the immediate and long-term financial feasibility of the proposed financing plan, the relative availability of funds for capital and operating needs, and the financial capability to undertake the project.” And if you plan on raising funding from investors, you definitely need a business plan.
Here’s what an D.C. cannabis business plan should include:
Confused or overwhelmed yet? That’s normal. With such a highly regulated industry, and one with different rules in every state, starting a cannabis company can be very complex. Get help with your cannabis business plan from Masterplans, the industry leaders. We’ve worked with hundreds of cannabis entrepreneurs like yourself to create investor-ready documents and presentations so you can not only meet regulations but get the funding you need. Click below for your free, confidential consultation: