Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on December 26, 2022

The cannabis plant along with its main cannabinoids, THC and CBD, is becoming a very popular plant as a result of the increased legalization laws in the US. Consequently, there’s an increased demand for cannabis cultivation in states where weed is legal which means there’s an increased demand for acquiring growers licenses. Cultivators are diving into the marijuana industry as a way to grow medical or recreational marijuana in a market that’s expected to exceed $20 billion in the US by 2024.

If you’ve ever wanted to get into the cannabis industry and grow your own marijuana but didn’t know which steps you needed to take, we’ve got you covered. Or maybe you’re just researching the cannabis market and wondering if you should invest in a growers license. 

No matter what your reason may be, this article will provide you with the general information about what you need to do to get a marijuana growing license and start cultivating weed.

The Marijuana Business (Growing Recreational and Medical Marijuana), and Is It Legal to Grow and Sell Weed in the US?

When talking about the marijuana business in the US, we need to mention that each state, county, and city has different laws and regulations. Before you go into the cannabis business, you first need to pay the application fees required by the state where you’re planning to grow weed. 

For example, the application fee in Illinois is $25,000, and the cultivation license is $100,000. States like California, Colorado, and Oregon have a license fee that depends on the size and type of grow. Meaning, the fee can vary depending on the number of plants you’re trying to grow, whether you’ll be growing indoors or outdoors, and other factors.

When it comes to selling cannabis products, that is only legal in states that have legalized marijuana either for medical or recreational use, or both. However, CBD and CBD products with THC levels lower than 0.3% can be legally sold anywhere in the US as a result of the 2018 Farm Bill which legalized hemp production. 

Which States Allow Marijuana Growers to Cultivate Cannabis?

If you’re wondering whether cultivating recreational or medical cannabis is legal, look through our list below. We’ve listed all the US states that have legalized the cultivation of recreational and medical weed:

  1. Alaska
  2. Arizona
  3. California
  4. Colorado
  5. Hawaii
  6. Illinois
  7. Maine
  8. Massachusetts
  9. Michigan
  10. Missouri
  11. Montana
  12. Nevada
  13. New Mexico
  14. Oklahoma
  15. Oregon
  16. Rhode Island
  17. Vermont
  18. Washington
  19. Washington, D.C.

Out of all these states, the only one that has legalized recreational cannabis but doesn’t allow you to grow it at home is Illinois.

Things Future Marijuana Growers Need to Know

As we’ve previously mentioned, each state has different laws regarding cannabis cultivation, as well as different application fees, and not all medical marijuana states are accepting applications at all times. Each state has a different agency in charge of reviewing the applications, so you need to find which one issues the licenses in your state. For example, The Bureau of Cannabis Control is in charge of regulating the cannabis licenses for both medical and adult-use cannabis in California. So, before you apply for the license, make sure you read all about the laws in your state. 

Apart from the application fee, you might need a business license for growing cannabis, and the required documentation for acquiring one will also vary from state to state. You might need some additional permits unique to the state where you’re planning to grow weed. Finally, the authorities might do a background check on you to make sure all the information you’ve provided is accurate. To find out more about commercial growing application requirements in different US states, check the following link.

How to Get a Marijuana Growing License (License Application Process)?

The license application process is similar across US states, so the following paragraph will focus on giving you the outline of the procedure for acquiring a marijuana growing license.

Develop a Business Plan and a Strategy

The first thing you need to do is analyze the cannabis market and the conditions in the area where you’re planning to grow weed. All of this information should be included in a business plan which should also contain the costs and planned profit from your cannabis farm. 

The person who’ll be reviewing your application should get the feeling that you’re going to build a profitable business. Some cannabis growers are just focused on cultivating, while others focus on marketing and expanding, so different factors will determine whether or not someone gets the license.

Property Acquisition and Location

After the business plan, your cultivation license will be tied to a specific location, so naturally, you’ll be thinking about buying your property. Since there are restrictions, regulations, and permits that determine which new businesses can operate, you’ll need to acquire a permissible property.

After buying the land, you’ll need a conditional use permit which will depend on whether your local community accepts your idea. If they block it, the municipality can block your approval.

When thinking about the land, you’ll need to take into consideration:

  • The proximity to resources;
  • Easy access to water and electricity;
  • The surrounding topography;
  • The access roads;
  • The surrounding bodies of water;
  • The existing vegetation.

Prepare the Application and Pursue the Approvals and Licenses

After you’ve acquired a property and you have the necessary documentation, it’s time to prepare the application. If you’re set out to get a cultivation license, make sure your business plan is solid. 

To make it easier for you to write your business plan, we’ve listed the topics your business plan should include:

  • The necessary compliance inspections and audits;
  • Tracking and trace compliance;
  • Documents needed to obtain the required permits and licenses;
  • Safety and security plan;
  • The relations with the community;
  • Odor control;
  • The operations plan.

The same business plan can be used both to apply for a license and also to attract investors (if you add market research, cash flow, customer demographics, and exit strategies).

Getting State Approval

To get approved for a growing license, you’ll need to apply to a few state agencies, depending on the regulation in your state. Your business strategy will also be reviewed here. Keep in mind that state regulators are always changing the procedures in accordance with the laws, so make sure you’re up to date on the newest laws and regulations.

Getting Local Approvals

After getting the state approval, you’ll need to get a local approval and provide evidence that you’re complying with the municipality zoning requirements. Government officials are very picky when reviewing applications, so make sure your documentation is spotless in order to increase your chances of getting approved so you can immediately start your cannabis business. 

Maintain Your Permits and Licenses

After getting all the required cultivation licenses, permits, approvals, and other documentation, you need to stay in compliance with future regulations during the following years. It’s also important to renew the approvals as necessary and keep your books organized for when state regulators come to inspect your business.

What About Dispensary Licenses?

Marijuana dispensaries are licensed marijuana stores where users can buy a wide variety of marijuana products for personal use or buy medical cannabis to treat a qualifying condition.

If you’re interested in opening your own marijuana dispensary, there’s also a licensing procedure you’ll need to undergo. Since weed cultivation isn’t the same as selling weed, a lot of cannabis laws that are applicable for cultivating cannabis aren’t applicable for selling cannabis, so you’ll need to keep that in mind.

While recreational weed can be bought by everyone over 18 in states where weed is legal, medical marijuana users need to have a certified condition in order to be eligible for a medical marijuana card. Cardholders can then enter a dispensary and purchase their cannabis products.


If you’ve been thinking about cannabis cultivation, now you know how much effort it takes to even start getting all the documentation you’ll need to apply for a cannabis growing license. Whether you decide to start the procedure for acquiring a marijuana growing license to build a successful cannabis business or not, you now know that getting licensed isn’t an easy task. You’ll need to write an elaborate business plan, find a suitable location, prepare the necessary documentation, get state and local approval, and only then can you start your marijuana business. Still, if you’re determined to start cultivating weed, the elaborate procedure shouldn’t stop you, as it’s a necessary step to get what you want.

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.


The information presented on this page is provided as a public service to aid in education and is derived from sources believed to be reliable. Readers are responsible for making their own assessment of the topics discussed here. In no event shall Leaf Nation be held reliable for any injury, loss or damage that could happen if using or abusing drugs.