So, You Want To Start An Illinois MMJ Dispensary?

Well, good luck. And I’m not saying that like I’m hatin’ or anything. I mean it.

The process for even applying to open a dispensary SUUUUUCKS AAAASSSSSS but if you are really about this life, I want to help.

Got a million dollars? Ok well you may as well stop reading now.

KIDDING! You kept reading, didn’t you? Because you’re smart…you’re loyal. I appreciate that.

But you do need to have serious coin on hand and in the bank. I don’t know exact figures, but I figure they are figures I don’t have. So bear with me.

First, must have a business plan. Anything from the scratch on the back of that long ass CVS pharmacy receipt or a professionally prepared layout that includes but isn’t limited to your dispensary’s bylaws, board of directors/corporate officers, established partnership agreements, bank accounts, and trademark/incorporation. I majored in business, I know a lil suntin suntin.

What I DIDN’T know were the fees for just getting a license. Remember now, a dispensary is still a retail business, and IL charges $40,000 for a retail license. Cough it up.

Let’s learn a new phrase that isn’t new to everyone: STARTUP CAPITAL. This money is a punch in the gut because you don’t spend it, but must have it just to get approved by your state to open a dispensary. In Illinois, it’s between $250,000 to $500,000.

NOW, get a location, and not just a place you have been looking at that would “be sooooo cute as a dispensary.” You must have a location secured (leased or owned), so start crowd funding, begging lol, or applying for loans. Too bad so few banks in this state are willing to have cannabis companies as their customers. But if you find one, maintain a good relationship. You’ll need it, and you’ll need to ensure they know you are using their money for a business that is compliant with city/state law.

AND I MEAN COMPLIANT. You’ll get inspected with a fine toothed comb once the business is ready to open, so stay woke lol.

For instance, in Chicago, a dispensary cannot be within 2,500 feet of a school, day care center, or residential area.  Hopefully that cute little spot still qualifies. (Source:–.html

So you’ve got your location. Gotta set it up, and it won’t be for the free lol! But with some creativity, thrifty shopping, and setup skills you can have your dispensary decked out and furnished for about $5,000-$15,000 depending on the size and the look you’re going for. The more simple, the cheaper. Don’t forget a GOOD security system, guard(s), electricity, signs, ads, employees, accountant (you’ll want one), and of course, product. WEED.

This is where I sign off as far as know how. But I’m aware that different dispensaries usually have contracts with growers and cultivators. And like you, they want to get paid. So budget in the cost of getting the good stuff with a reputable company. And as a an avid dispensary visitor, trust me…the cheapest is not always the best. Variety of strains and cannabis products is what brings customers in. QUALITY is what keeps them coming back.

Alright so you are looking good! I don’t know how you did it but you did it, you got your plan, your cash, your license, and your location. When can I come buy some dank?

Uh…hum. Totally forgot something…before you started this process, did you get lucky enough to get chosen as one of the only 60 dispensaries allowed in this entire state? Meaning you had your application in yesterday lol? Oh, you did? Well excuse me! Congratulations is still in order, and Illinois will thank you by asking for another $6,000 for the dispensary license.

Well alright! Now you are ready to open for business and start assisting patients in choosing and purchasing their cannabis medication. TOO BAD Illinois only allows 40 types of conditions to qualify people as patients, you’d probably have a lot more business. But we can worry about that bridge when it’s time to cross it, eh?

Man, I just typed a lot. Took a couple dropperfuls of a nice indica tincture that surprisingly didn’t make me want to melt into the couch. So pardon the long blog but words are for reading, right? You’re welcome. I hope this gave you some insight on the over-romanticized reality of starting a dispensary, ESPECIALLY in IL. They ain’t playin! If you really just want to be in the cannabis industry, get creative. Whatever skills you have now most likely can be a great contribution to a still very new industry. Get in where you fit in, and elevate!

Good luck blogees!

For more information, visit the city of of Chicago website here:

Here’s a great state-by-state list compiled by The National Cannabis Industry Association:


“Forward motion make you sway like the ocean/the herb is more than just a powerful potion” –Cypress Hill

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