Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on December 22, 2022

The cannabis industry is doing better than ever and proof of this is the increasing yearly revenue. Research shows that in 2020, the U.S. cannabis market was worth $61 billion, and it’s expected to reach $100 billion by 2030

Needless to say, the legalization of recreational and medical cannabis across the states has a lot to do with this growth. Currently, marijuana is legal under state law for either recreational or medical purposes in 36 states and the District of Columbia, even though on a federal level it’s still classified as a Schedule 1 drug.

Still, cannabis cultivation is thriving (and to find out just how thriving, check out our post talking about how much do dispensary owners make). In some states where medical marijuana is legal and users can be issued a medical marijuana card, cultivation of medical marijuana is also allowed. However, when it comes to the commercial cultivation of cannabis plants, things are a little different, and this is what we’ll talk about in today’s article. 

Learn the Basics About Applying for Growers License

In order to start a secure and lucrative cannabis business, you need to prepare yourself well. The starting point should be learning all about the cannabis industry and its history, as well as its current status. The legal climate for cannabis in each state is ever-changing, so staying on top of the news should be your priority. For example, as of 2021, Missouri is no longer accepting applications for marijuana growers licenses. 

Similarly, in some states, there are THC limitations where they only allow the cultivation of hemp plants with high CBD levels and with THC of no more than 0.3%.

Therefore, first, you should learn your state’s cannabis regulations regarding cultivation. Because even though the use of marijuana is permitted in some states, not all of them will allow commercial cultivation (or even growing weed for personal use). 

In some states, like Arizona, New Mexico, Michigan, and Rhode Island, you can only cultivate a small number of plants for which you only need a valid medical marijuana card. However, this type of cultivation isn’t for profit as it’s only considered for personal use. Similarly, California, Oregon, and Nevada allow cultivation for personal use without a license, but you will need one for commercial growing.

Finally, in most states, there are cannabis consulting firms that can also help you with the application process. They are a great source of all kinds of information you may need and help you develop your vision, as well as help you to get started and learn the ropes of the marijuana business.

How to Get Cannabis Growers License

Becoming a licensed cultivator takes a lot of preparation and paperwork since it involves cultivating a plant whose legal status is always changing. This is the most tedious part of the job, but it’s necessary to kickstart your new business.

Now, let’s see what you need to do to get your license.

Start With a Business Plan

Before you become a licensee, you need to develop a good business plan, which will be the backbone of your business (and guide you through each stage). As with any other business, this involves things like researching your competitors and developing a marketing strategy. In states where there is high competition, you will have to be extra meticulous and really think about what you want to do to make your business unique. 

However, more than anything, your business plan should adhere to your state’s specific cannabis regulations to the T. Otherwise, your new business can quickly face some bumps on the road. 

Find a Suitable Grow Site 

Finding a suitable location to grow your plants is another important element of your cannabis business because you can’t choose just any location. Your growing facility, whether indoors or outdoors, will have to comply with the municipality zoning requirements. There are state-specific restrictions that keep licensees from cultivating cannabis near parks, public schools, libraries, and transit centers, or anywhere where minors frequently move. 

In some states, like Washington and Colorado, outdoor locations must be obscured with tall fences. Indoor growing facilities are often required to be completely enclosed and secured. Odor control should also be factored in since mature plants release a strong odor. If you’re going to be cultivating on a large scale, neutralizing the marijuana smell may be one of the requirements.

Apply For Cannabis Cultivation License 

Applying for a marijuana cultivation license is the first concrete step towards starting your marijuana business. Keep in mind that the application fees vary greatly from state to state, for example, Washington charges only $250 for a license, while in Illinois it costs $25.000, and the same applies to renewal license application fees. Plus, in some states, like California, Colorado, and Oregon, the fees depend on the number of plants you grow or whether you grow indoors or outdoors. 

After your application gets approved, it’s time for some more paperwork, and this time it’s to get local approval, which includes just a little more fumbling before you’re done with it. That being said, the local government should also approve of your growing facility. Their usual concerns are environmental impact and making sure that the locals in the neighborhood won’t mind. If your business plan is in order and your proposal fulfills all state requirements, then you should have no problems getting all the paperwork done.

Once you’ve become an official licensee, you can start selling to marijuana dispensaries. This is the simplest approach for new business owners as it allows them to focus on just one thing. 

If, on the other hand, you’re an experienced grower and want to take things to the next level and open up your own dispensary, you can also apply for a marijuana retailer license. Needless to say, opening your own dispensary will also take a lot of different paperwork, but if you’ve already decided to go bigger, we say go for it.

The Takeaway

As with any other business, getting into the marijuana business requires handling a lot of delicacies simply because of the legal status of cannabis. In states where commercial growing is permitted, the process of obtaining a growers license is entirely state-specific, although there are some common denominators for all, like opening your growing facility away from certain institutions. 

Overall, you will need to make a lot of pre-preparations and learn everything you can about the business to stay on top. The marijuana industry has been moving pretty fast in the last few years, so if you want to build a successful business, you need to prepare yourself well.

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


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