Retail Requirements for Cannabis in Washington, Colorado, California, Alaska, and Oregon

As the Wild West experiences its second gold rush, fondly referred to as the “Green Rush,” everyone is trying to get a piece of the action. For those resilient, and deep-pocketed souls who commit to doing commerce in the cannabis space, the task is no simple undertaking.

While every business has its startup costs, opening a retail cannabis operation is laden with additional regulations from multiple governing authorities at every step of the way. That’s assuming the state is even taking applications (some are not). No matter which state you live in, get ready to talk to your lawyer. 

Washington Dispensary Requirements*

*If accepting applications (currently not)

Space Needle and Seattle downtown

Retailer License

  • $250 Non-Refundable Application fee
  • $1480 Annual Fee for Issuance and Renewal

Location

  • 1,000 ft. buffer requirement
    • Operating Plans
    • Floor Plans
    • Personal/criminal history statement
    • Fingerprint cards
    • Copy of approved identification
    • Business Structure forms
    • Lease information                                                                                                              
    • Purchase agreements 
    • Financial/Source of funds statement
    • Copy of bank statements and/or tax returns
    • Affidavits      
      • Must be signed and dated from local authority

Moratorium or ban

  • May relocate with permission of investigator only in assigned jurisdiction
    • May move out of jurisdiction with Business License Services application at the Department of Revenue

Qualifications

  • No felony convictions in last 10 years (8 or less points on criminal history record check)
  • Proof of state business license
  • Proof of payment of all state taxes
    • Paystubs, business license, tax receipts, history of payments etc.
  • May not hold producer and retailer license. “Vertical Integration”
    • Not allowed to have monetary gains in another’s business on opposite side
  • Application must be mailed via US Mail.
  • Resident of the state of Washington (6 month residency will qualify)

Insurance

  • Commercial general liability coverage
  • Carrier rating of A-VII or better
  • State of Washington and its employees as additional insured

Interview with WA State Investigator

  • Will request any/all of the following
    • Operating Plans
    • Floor Plans
    • Personal/criminal history statement
    • Fingerprint cards
    • Copy of approved identification
    • Business Structure forms
    • Lease information                                                                                                              
    • Purchase agreements 
    • Financial/Source of funds statement
    • Copy of bank statements and/or tax returns
    • Affidavits      
  • Local Authority Notified of your application
    • Have 20 days to respond/provide objection to application
  • All local, state, and federal employment laws, equal to that of alcohol distributors in the State of Washington

Helpful resources for Washington state dispensaries:

Colorado Dispensary Requirements

Denver Colorado Skyline at Night

Retail Business License Application

  • Operating Plans
  • Floor Plans
  • Personal/criminal history statement
  • Fingerprint cards
  • Copy of approved identification
  • Business Structure forms
  • Lease information                                                                                                              
  • Purchase agreements 
  • Financial/Source of funds statement
  • Copy of bank statements and/or tax returns
  • Affidavits      
  • Associated Key License Application
    • Officers, person of ownership interest, directors
  • $4000 application fee ($9-$22,000 for Medical)
    • +$500 for Associated Key App
    • Additional fees for Combined Use of Medical/Retail
    • Cash, Money Order, or Check only
  • Must have an owner, 0% ownership model no longer accepted

Interview Appointment

  • All owners must be present, all fees paid
  • All docs already notarized
  • Fingerprinting upon approval

Local Authority Licensing

  • Must obtain license from local jurisdiction’s authority approving of operations

State Tax Licensing

  • Must apply for State Tax License in accordance with the type of business
  • $66 for application

More resources for Colorado dispensaries

California Dispensary Requirements

Sacramento-Skyline-Tower-Bridge-Night

Business Information

  • Name, DBA, and all fictitious business names operating under
  • Contact information (phone number, mailing address, email address, designated primary contact person, designated agent for service of process)
  • Business organizational structure and formation documents
  • Financial information (bank accounts, loans, investments, gifts)
  • Seller’s permit number
  • Labor peace agreement (for applicants with 20 or more employees)
  • Operating procedures for transportation, inventory, nonlaboratory quality control, and security (microbusinesses also need operating procedures for cultivation and manufacturing in compliance with regulations governing those activities, and testing laboratories also need sampling standards, chain of custody protocol, testing methods, and laboratory quality assurance and quality control)

Individual Owner Information (For all owners)

  • Identifying information (name, title, date, and place of birth; Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification; number; mailing address; phone number; email address; current employer)
  • Percentage of ownership
  • Government-issued identification
  • Fingerprints
  • Criminal history and evidence of rehabilitation where applicable

Premises Information

  • Physical address
  • Verification of 600ft buffer
    • Grades K-12, daycare, youth center)
  • Premises diagram
  • Evidence of legal right to occupy the premises

Bond & Insurance

  • $5,000 State of California issued Bond
  • Commercial GL Agg $2Mil no less than $1mil for each loss

Compliance with local jurisdiction

  • Valid license required

Compliance with California Weights and Measures

Resources for California dispensaries

Alaska Dispensary Requirements

Aeriel view Juneau Alaska

Online Registration: MyAlaska

  • Local Jurisdiction Approval
  • All Business partner’s and financing must come from Alaska state residents/money
  • Business License Fee
    • $50

500ft buffer zone

  • Schools & Churches
  • Proof of possession of the premises

Pre-application appointment with city officials recommended

Submit Operating Plan

  • Must give public notice in storefront for intent to retail cannabis
  • 3 weeks to give notice and for local officials to receive protests
  • After no protest, business can send in application

Edible/Drinkable Sales

  • Must apply for food permit with Department of Environmental Conservation
    • Must apply by all restaurant quality regulations

Compliance with Alaska Department of Transportation Weights and Measures

More resources for Alaska dispensaries

Oregon Dispensary Requirements

Portland Skyline Along Willamette River

Must ensure city is not on the OLCC Opt-Out list

Must submit with Application

  • Business details: company name, physical and mailing address, Secretary of State Number
  • Funding sources: interested parties and legal entities
  • Land Use Compatibility Statement (LUCS)
  • Business Operating plan
  • Floor plan of proposed facility
  • Proof of right to occupy the premises
  • Other documentation depending on license type.
  • $250 Application fee
    • Should all be part of a cohesive business plan.

Comply with all Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries employment requirements

Land use

  • 1000 ft. buffer
    • Elementary or Secondary School
    • Private or parochial school
  • Must have signed authorization from city or county that land use is compatible
  • Building permits from city

Insurance

  • Need Worker’s Comp
  • General Liability
  • Property Liability

Weights & Measures

  • Scales must be offered by State of Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Employees

  • Must have Marijuana Worker Permit issued by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission
  • Health insurance (Based on size)
  • Unemployment Insurance (Based on size)

Food Safety Compliance

  • If planning on selling edibles/drinkables

Oregon Bottle Bill

  • Must accept returned bottles at 10cents a bottle per Oregon State Law

Few are truly surprised at the amount of red tape that anyone hoping to enter into the cannabis industry will have to navigate. So long as the “I”s are dotted, the “T”s are cross, and the money and patience are basically infinite, opening a storefront is an attainable dream in 2017. Nobody said opening a retail cannabis operation would be a bed of roses but for those willing to weather the storm, the future  holds a sea of green.

Additional details for Oregon dispensaries