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How to Open a Dispensary in Virginia


Virginia lawmakers have passed HB 2312 allowing for retail sales to begin in 2024.

Under this law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana would be legalized

beginning July 1, 2021. A tax system framework would be implemented for retail

cannabis sales, allotting 30% of tax revenue to a Cannabis Equity Reinvestment

Fund. The bill sets a 21% excise tax on marijuana and allows municipalities to add

an additional 3% tax on retailers on top of existing sales taxes.

Virginia's legislature recently has passed SB 313, which allows medical processors

within the state to start their recreational cannabis sales starting this fall.

Automatic expungement is provided for all past low-level cannabis offenses,

aiming to aid those affected most harshly by cannabis laws.

Cultivation at a private residence is allowed under this bill, but capped at no

more than four plants per household. Public consumption would still carry a $25

fine. A 5 person committee is proposed to oversee the adult-use marijuana market,

issuing fines and determining license eligibility. This committee would also be

responsible for establishing licensees, noted in the bill to not exceed 400 retailers,

25 wholesalers, 450 cultivators, or 60 product manufacturers. Under this law,

edibles must comply with a five milligram per serving,

and a 50 milligram per package limit.

Available Recreational Marijuana License Types

The Cannabis Control Authority will not release marijuana regulations or accept

applications before 2023, but this can be subject to change. It will not be legal to

sell marijuana before 2024. The following license types will be available in 2023.

  • Cultivation Class A (regulating a certain amount of plants per square feet)

  • Cultivation Class B (regarding 1% THC) 

  • Retail License 

  • Wholesale License

  • Manufacturer License

  • Cannabis Lab  

  • Hemp Dealers

Vertical integration would be allowed in limited circumstances including

micro-businesses. Priority licensing is given to “Social Equity Applicants”

defined as individuals with a prior cannabis conviction, relation to someone

who has a prior cannabis conviction, maintains residence in an area that is

disproportionately affected by cannabis arrests, or has graduated from a

Virginia HBCU. Applicants who fall under this term will receive licensing priority

from July 1st, 2023 to December 31st, 2023. Regulators are also allowed to waive

certain percentages of application fees for Social Equity Applicants.

How much does it cost to open a dispensary in Virginia?

There is not a set application fee for recreational licenses at this time.

The Cannabis Control Authority will establish these figures at a later date.

Please check back for updates on this topic.

Hemp Cultivation

Applications are open for Industrial Hemp Growers, Dealers, and Processors at

the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services website.


Application Fees/Start up Costs for Hemp Cultivation

  • $50 application fee for Industrial Hemp Growers, Dealers, and Processors


In 2015, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed two bills that provided an affirmative defense for epilepsy patients in possession of CBD or THC-A oil with a doctor’s recommendation. In 2017, Gov. McAuliffe signed SB 1027, a bill that enabled patients suffering from intractable epilepsy to access cannabidiol (CBD) or THC-A oil. 

In 2018, the Gov. McAuliffe signed House Bill 1251, expanding the state’s medical marijuana program to allow the use of cannabidiol (CBD) or THC-A oil for the treatment of any diagnosed condition or disease determined by a medical practitioner. As of July 1, 2019, patients may enroll in the program with the state Board of Pharmacy with their physician’s authorization.


The Virginia Board of Pharmacy closed applications for Pharmaceutical Processor Licenses on June 8, 2018. The five licensed companies are: PharmaCann Virginia, Dalitso, Dharma Pharmaceuticals, Green Leaf Medical of Virginia, and Columbia Care.  


On July 1, 2019, 3 medical marijuana bills signed by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam went into effect. Each bill expands Virginia’s medical marijuana program. One bill allows school healthcare providers to administer medical marijuana oil to registered patients while at school. Another bill, known as the “Let Doctors Decide” bill, allows Virginia doctors to recommend medical marijuana oil for any diagnosed condition or disease. The last bill allows “registered agents” to receive medical marijuana oil on behalf of a patient, often referred to as a “caregiver” in other states.


Key Dates​

•  February 2021: Virginia law makers pass HB 2312, a bill to regulate and sell cannabis recreationally starting in 2024.

•  March 8, 2020: Virginia legislature passes SB2, a bill to decriminalize marijuana.

•  June 1, 2019: state expands medical marijuana policies to provide access to more patients.

•  June 8, 2018: Virginia Board of Pharmacy closes applications and grants five licenses for Pharmaceutical Processors.

•  February, 2015: Gov. McAuliffe signs affirmative defense laws for epileptic patients possessing CBD or THC-A oil with medical            recommendation.

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how to start a marijuana business virginia

If you are just starting your marijuana business, the next best step is to start a Business Plan to help educate your team and be ready to apply for a marijuana business license. If you are ready to apply for a Marijuana Business License in Virginia, please Contact us or call our office to set an appointment to get started. You can also select another State Opportunity, or fill out our Contact Form to discuss potential strategies such as Investment or Partnership Opportunities.

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