What is the Cost to Open A Dispensary or Cultivation Facility?

There’s never been a better time to get involved with the medical marijuana industry in Missouri. The field is still in its infancy, but it is quickly growing across the United States and necessitating business growth along the way. If you’re looking to turn a profit, you’ve chosen the right place to be.

That being said, getting involved isn’t without its costs. In fact, breaking into the medical marijuana industry can be one of the costliest and most tightly-regulated businesses you can go into. If you abide by the laws, you have the ability to make a good profit, but one slip up and you could lose it all. For this reason, it’s important to be ready to spend whatever is necessary to keep within the legal confines of the industry.

If you’re interested in getting started, find out how much you’ll need to spend in order to get your business off the ground.

Dispensary startup costs

In order to open a dispensary in Missouri, there is an initial application fee of $6,000, and applications can begin to be filed on August 3rd. During the application process, you will need to start making plans for your business, but keep in mind that you don’t want to make any huge investments without receiving a license first. Once you obtain your license, you will be responsible for also paying a $10,000 annual fee to renew your license.

Additional costs may include:  

  • Real estate. Landlords may refuse to rent to you to operate a medical marijuana business, so you will likely have to own or lease your building. As you purchase a building, be aware of your city’s or county’s zoning laws. These regulations are still being created in many cities and counties, and they will dictate where medical marijuana businesses can operate. The state law requires your business to be located at least 1,000 feet from churches, schools and daycares.
  • Staffing. In order to work in a dispensary, your staff must be trained, have a clear background check and understand how to abide within the legal restrictions of your business. Failure to employ trustworthy staff can result in your losing your license. The average payment for a budtender can range anywhere from $11-15 per hour and above, so make sure you have room in your budget for staffing expenses.
  • Business expenses. Opening a dispensary comes with a number of miscellaneous business expenses. Since the potential for theft is high, you’ll have to spend a good deal of money on security systems to protect your product. You will also be responsible for buying the product itself, along with any additional equipment needed to sell it. Last, be aware that you will be operating exclusively in cash, since you are not likely to find a bank that will accept money due to marijuana continuing to be federally illegal. This may incur additional tax costs for dealing in cash as well.

Cultivation facility startup costs

Cultivation facilities also have an initial application fee, which is currently at $10,000 in the state of Missouri. If approved for a license,  you will also pay $25,000 in license fees and will have to renew each year. Applications can be filed August 3rd.

When opening a cultivation facility, you must choose between an indoor or outdoor operation. Outdoor operations are easier to operate, since you don’t have to manually control the climate of the place, but it comes with a lower quality product than you could grow with an indoor facility. When you grow indoors, you will be responsible for artificially manufacturing a climate where your plants can thrive, but you will also end up producing a higher quality product than if you had grown outdoors.

Additional costs may include:

  • Real estate. If you are growing indoors, you will need a facility that is built to grow. This typically requires a large warehouse that can be temperature controlled so that you can grow the amount of product needed to net a profit. Outdoor grow operations may be easier to purchase or find, but they may be restricted by zoning laws or by the security of the location. Money will be needed to build greenhouses if that is desired over planting in the ground.
  • Staffing. Growing medical grade marijuana plants is a more difficult job than one would expect, and you’ll need a talented staff to get the job done right. The pay scale for an experienced grower can range from $75,000-$200,000, so expect to pay that much or more for a quality grower.
  • Business expenses. Growing indoors comes with a number of additional costs, including grow lights, temperature control, humidifiers, ventilation systems, growing mediums and various nutrients needed to help the plants grow. Both indoor and outdoor operations will need to pay for water, electricity and any seeds or clones of the plant. All of which will be very expensive.


Planning for your capital needs is critical in the early phases of your business planning. Are you interested in getting your start in the medical marijuana industry?

Contact Reynolds & Gold. We can provide you with the business insight you need to be successful in your venture.

Pharmacist holding glass container in a canabis dispensary.