How to Get a Retailer & Internet Retailer License in Washington DC in 2024

DC’s Retailer & Internet Retailer Application Window Opening July 2024

Washington DC’s first standard medical cannabis retailer and internet retailer application window is opening on July 1, 2024, until August 29, 2024. This application window marks the first chance for non-social equity applicants to get a medical cannabis license permitting sale to registered medical patients. 

The dispensary in Washington DC on the page about cannabis retailer license

What is DC’s Retailer License?

DC’s medical cannabis retailer license was previously referred to as the dispensary license, and it allows the license holder to open a medical dispensary. Medical retailers can only sell cannabis to qualified patients and caregivers. 

This is the license you’ll need to open a dispensary that has a physical brick-and-mortar storefront in DC. There will be 33 cannabis retailer licenses up for grabs in the application window opening on July 1.

What is DC’s Internet Retailer License?

DC’s internet retailer license gives businesses without a physical storefront location the ability to sell medical cannabis and cannabis products online to qualified patients and caregivers. With this license, a business can launch an app, or website where medical cannabis can be ordered.

Internet retailers are able to make their own deliveries, or use a third-party licensed courier, but they cannot offer a curb-side pickup, or drive-through service. There will only be two internet retailer licenses awarded in the upcoming July 1 application window.

How do I Get a License?

Getting a license requires a complete and timely application submission. If you’re serious about becoming a DC medical cannabis retailer or internet retailer, you’ll want to start preparing your application as soon as possible. 

The ABCA uses a “first-come-first-serve” system when it comes to awarding cannabis licenses. This means that the ABCA will award licenses to the first applicants who submit an application fulfilling all of the requirements. 

What are the Application Requirements?

There are a variety of application and eligibility requirements involved in securing a retailer or internet retailer license. The ABCA has retailer and internet retailer application instruction sheets that detail the specific requirements for each application. 

The ABCA noted that online application submissions through their application portal is the best way to submit an application. The second best would be one PDF document, including everything in the application checklist, in the order they are listed in on the checklist. 

Applicants must meet the following qualification and eligibility requirements to apply for a license. Applicants must…

  • Be of good character and capable of fulfilling the licensing requirements.

  • Be at least 21 years old.

  • Not be convicted of felonies related to violence, gun offense, tax evasion, fraud, or credit card fraud within the last three years.

  • Have paid the annual fee and is incorporated in the District as a for-profit or non-profit corporation.

  • Not be a licensed practitioner who makes patient recommendations.

  • Not have had caregiver or qualifying patient status revoked by the Board.

  • Comply with the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1999 and Title 22-C of DC Municipal Regulations.

  • Be current on all tax filings and owes the District less than $100.

All retailer and internet retailer license applications need to include the following components:

  1. Completeness: All required documents and plans must be submitted, or the application will be considered non-responsive.

  2. Application Form: Complete the DC Medical Cannabis Business License Application.

  3. Acknowledgment Form: A signed and notarized Medical Cannabis Facility Applicant Acknowledgment and Attestation Form.

  4. Medical Cannabis Certified Business Enterprise (CBE): If applicable, provide documentation, notarized forms, and attestations to qualify as a medical cannabis CBE.

  5. All Documents on the Application Checklist: Submit all required documents listed on the “Medical Cannabis Business License Application Checklist.

  6. Security Plan: A detailed security plan addressing compliance with regulations, site and floor plans, security measures, camera locations, alarm systems, restricted areas, security training, theft prevention, and closing procedures.

All standard cannabis retailer and internet retailer applications need to include site occupancy details including:

  • Zoning Compliance: Provide evidence that the proposed address is not in a residential district or within 300 feet of a school or recreation center, or prove it is in a commercial or industrial zone. Include a certified surveyor’s report or a detailed GIS map.

  • Zoning Determination: Provide a valid zoning determination letter and a certificate of occupancy from the DOB Zoning Administrator.

  • Occupancy Documentation: Provide a valid written lease, intent to lease, or agreement to purchase for the building.

Keep in mind that retailer and internet retailer license applications will be accepted on a first come first serve basis. Only applications including all of the required elements will be selected for licensure.

What's the Difference Between Conditional & Standard Licenses?

Even though this application group is labeled as “Standard”; the ABCA will be accepting both standard and conditional license applications. There are some major differences between these two groups of licenses that will impact the post-licensing process, the amount paid in application and licensing fees, and various other factors on the road to operating as a retailer or internet retailer. Regardless of whether you apply for a conditional or standard license, you are still on the path to becoming a licensed operator.

Conditional License

Conditional license applications can be submitted by applicants who do not already occupy a compliant location to start their medical cannabis business. With a conditional license, you cannot distribute, purchase, possess, or sell any medical cannabis or cannabis products until you convert your license into a standard license. 

Conditional license holders have one-year from the date of issuance to submit documents required by the ABCA. These documents include (but are not limited to) a lease, Certificate of Occupancy, security plan, and a permanent cannabis license application.

There isn’t currently any way to get an extension beyond one year. However, it is possible that this licensing period could be extended in the future. Keep an eye out for any news regarding conditional licenses from the ABCA.

Conditional Licensing Fees for Retailers & Internet Retailers

The conditional cannabis license application fees are due at the time the application is submitted. The first year licensing fees and conditional license approval fees are only due after the license has been approved. If the license is denied, the applicant doesn’t need to pay the approval and licensing fees. 

These standard licensing fees will apply during the conversion from a conditional license to a standard license. 

The conditional retailer and internet retailer applicant fee is $800.

The annual license fee for retailers and internet retailers is $1,200.

Standard License

Standard license applications are a full and complete cannabis license application, containing all requirements and an occupancy of a compliant location. Applying for a standard license allows an applicant to bypass the conditional licensing period. However, it is only possible by providing a Certificate of Occupancy, security plans, and everything else required for a complete retailer or internet retailer license application.

All standard retailer applications will be put under a 45 day public calendar period before the final license is awarded to the applicant.

Applicants can also apply for endorsements when applying for a standard license. Endorsements 

Standard Licensing Fees for Retailers & Internet Retailers

The standard license application fees are due when the retailer or internet retailer license application is submitted, but the licensing and approval fees are only due if the license is approved.

The standard retailer and internet retailer applicant fee is $8,000.

The annual license fee for retailers and internet retailers is $16,000.


Retailer license applicants can apply for endorsements while converting or applying for a standard medical cannabis license, or after being awarded the license. Retailers that want an endorsement after being awarded their cannabis retailer license must submit a retailer endorsement application Any combination of endorsements can be applied for and used by retailers.

There are four types of endorsements. They are:

  1. Delivery – Allows the delivery of cannabis and cannabis products by the retailer.

  2. Educational Tasting – Allows retailers to offer cooking and how-to classes and demonstrations.

  3. Safe-Use Treatment Facility – Allows on-site consumption of products purchased at the retail location.

  4. Summer Garden – Allows the sale, service, and on-premises consumption of medical cannabis in a private outdoor space.

Location Requirements

Before being awarded a standard retailer or internet retailer license, applicants need to occupy a compliant location that meets all location criteria. Applicants can get a conditional license without a location, but they will be unable to begin operating until they get a standard license.

Retailers and internet retailers need to secure a location that’s outside of any Office of Planning-zoned residential district. Additionally, retailers and internet retailers cannot operate within 300 feet of a preschool, primary or secondary school, or recreation center.

Retailers and internet retailers are only permitted to have one store location with a single license. Additional retailer or internet retailer licenses are required to open additional medical dispensaries or internet retailer cannabis businesses.

Vertical Integration

Vertical integration is possible with the retailer and internet retailer licenses. This means that retailers and internet retailers can also hold ownership interest in other licenses, however, there are some restrictions: 

  • Retailers can have ownership interest in a combination of up to three retailer or internet retailer licenses. 

  • Internet retailers cannot have any ownership interest in a cultivation facility license

Why Choose CannDelta?

Given the complexity of the regulatory and licensing framework for DC medical cannabis businesses in Washington DC, Working with a cannabis consultant can make the difference between obtaining a license and being denied one.

CannDelta’s consultants can guide you through the licensing process, assist with application preparation, and advise on compliance and operations. A consultant can save you time and money by helping you avoid costly mistakes and ensuring all regulatory requirements are met.

As the regulatory and licensing framework for cannabis businesses in Washington, D.C. continues to develop, significant opportunities exist for businesses that can navigate the process successfully. Partnering with a cannabis consultant can help ensure success and prevent costly errors.

Get in touch! Fill out the form below.

Frequently Asked Questions

You can apply for a cannabis retailer license during an open application window by submitting a complete and comprehensive retailer or internet retailer license application. You can apply for a standard or conditional license, each license has different fees and some varying requirements. The key difference in requirements between a standard and conditional license application is standard license applications, which require that you occupy a compliant location. With a conditional license, you have one year to find a location. All of the eligibility requirements and general application guidelines are the same between each license.

You can get an internet retailer license by submitting an application during an open application window. Applications are accepted on a first come first serve basis, but applications with deficiencies will not be accepted. Therefore, if you are serious about getting an internet retailer license application, be sure to comply with all application requirements and submit your application as soon as the application window opens. Only two internet retailer licenses will be awarded following the upcoming July 1, 2024 application window. DC medical cannabis business licenses cannot be sold or purchased.

The cannabis retailer license in Washington DC has costs that vary depending on whether the application is standard, conditional, or social equity. For a conditional license, the application fee is $800 and the approval fee is $1,200. Conditional license holders must pay the standard licensing fees when converting from a conditional license to a full license. The Standard license fees are an application fee of $8,000 and an annual renewal fee of $16,000, paid every calendar year. The social equity application has a 75% reduction in all fees for the first three years of licensure. The fees for the retailer and internet retailer licenses are the same.

You can open a dispensary in DC by obtaining a full standard retailer license. This license will permit you to have a storefront where you can sell medical cannabis and cannabis products to eligible patients and caregivers. To get this license, you must apply for a standard or conditional license during the corresponding application window, and win a license. After you have a standard license, you will need to engage in all post licensing procedures. This can include a site inspection, and the submission of all required operating procedures, and more. A retailer license cannot be bought in entirety. If you are interested in opening a dispensary, be sure to submit an application during an open application window. Applications are accepted for licensure on a first-come-first serve basis.