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Medical Cannabis Opportunity in DC: Retail & Internet Retail Social-Equity Application Window is Open Now!

DC Retail & Internet Retail (Medical) Applications Overview

Washington DC’s Alcohol Beverage and Cannabis Administration (ABCA) is now accepting Medical Cannabis Retailer license applications! Here’s everything you need to know about the application window that opened on March 1, 2024.

DC’s Internet Retailer & Retailer application period opened 9:00 AM March 1, 2024 and will close April 30, 2024 4:00 PM. Any applications received outside of that period will be automatically rejected. This application period is for Social-equity applicants, and it is for medical cannabis retail only. Approved social equity applicants receive a 75 percent reduction in licensing fees during the initial three (3) years of their license validity period.

The image of the cannabis dispensary on the page about internet retailers and Medical Cannabis Opportunity in DC

Who is Considered a Social Equity (SE) Applicant?

The 2022 Medical Cannabis Amendment Act guarantees the inclusion of individuals disproportionately affected by cannabis criminalization in DC’s medical cannabis sector. As per the act, 50 percent of all new medical cannabis business licenses, excluding Testing Laboratory licenses, are designated for SE applicants. To be considered an SE applicant, the individual(s) must apply during the designated application period by submitting two declaration forms:

  1. Social Equity Declaration Form
  2. Social Equity Attestation Statement

    At least one or more of the listed applicants must be a DC resident who is an owner of 50% or more of the business and qualifies as an SE applicant(s) as determined by the following criteria. The applicants (owning 50% or more of the business) must meet at least two of the three criteria listed below to be considered an SE applicant:

  1. A returning citizen.

  2. Have familial ties to someone arrested, convicted, or incarcerated for a cannabis or drug-related offense in DC or elsewhere. This includes marriage and civil union, legal guardians, children, etc.

  3. Have a household income below 150 percent of the median family income determined by US HUD, adjusted for household size at the time of application.

Click Here for more information! 

Retailer License

The retailer license was formerly known as the dispensary license. The retailer license allows for the opening of a medical cannabis dispensary to distribute cannabis products to eligible patients and caregivers. It also permits retailers to produce, acquire, and sell paraphernalia.

Internet Retailer

The Internet Retailer license allows businesses without a publicly accessible physical location (medical cannabis dispensary) to distribute medical cannabis products to eligible patients and care givers. Delivery arranged using online platforms and mobile applications.

Internet retailers can deliver to eligible patients and caregivers without requiring a delivery endorsement. Delivery hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily, and deliveries can be made by licensed third-party couriers or internet retailer staff.

Delivery personnel must verify the identity and age of the patient or caregiver before handing over the delivery order. Deliveries are restricted from being made outside of DC or to DC or federal government-owned properties, schools, or school grounds, except for individuals at colleges and universities aged 21 or older.

Curb-side or drive-through pickup services are not permitted for internet retailers. Internet retailers cannot operate within any Office of Planning-zoned residential district or within 300 feet of preschools, primary or secondary schools, or recreation centres.

General Eligibility Requirements

The following list describes the general applicant requirements for medical Internet Retailer and Retailer licenses. These eligibility requirements do not include SE requirements.

  1. The applicant demonstrates good character and suitability for licensure responsibilities.

  2. The applicant has not been convicted of a felony related to violence, firearms, tax evasion, fraud, or credit card fraud within the past three (3) years.

  3. The applicant must be 21 years-of-age or older.

  4. The applicant has paid the annual fee and is registered as either a for-profit or non-profit corporation in the District.

  5. The applicant is not a licensed medical practitioner authorized to make patient recommendations.

  6. The applicant is not a caregiver or qualifying patient whose authority has been revoked by the Board.

  7. The applicant has fulfilled all requirements outlined in the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1999 (Act), effective July 27, 2010, and Title 22-C of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations.

  8. The applicant is up-to-date on all tax filings and has a “Clean Hands” status, owing the District no more than $100.

Apply at the link below, or find resources about application instruction checklists, and more.

Link to Application Resources 

Licenses remain valid for a maximum of three (3) years, with all licenses of the same type expiring simultaneously, regardless of their issuance dates. The ABCA offers a detailed breakdown of all fee structures here: Fee Structures


The Retailer & Internet Retailer social-equity license fee is $2,000 per license for the first licensing period that lasts three years. An annual licensing fee of $4,000 is required for social-equity Retailer & Internet Retail license holders. This fee was determined using the 75% reduction for SE applicants. 

The standard application fee that must be renewed every three (3) years will be $8,000 for non-SE applicants. The annual fee will be $16,000. This application period is not currently open. If you qualify as a SE applicant, taking advantage of this application window is an opportunity to save thousands of dollars. Make sure your application submission includes all necessary details and adheres to all compliance standards by working with cannabis professionals at CannDelta.

Why Work With CannDelta?

CannDelta’s cannabis business consultants are known for successful navigation of complicated regulatory frameworks all over the country. We help clients get past obstacles keeping them from starting a successful cannabis business. Our services include comprehensive application support, strategic site selection, license support, competitive strategies, and more.

With DC’s cannabis industry continuing to grow, CannDelta offers invaluable expertise and guidance for entrepreneurs and established businesses to thrive in this up-and-coming market.

Explore the advantages of working with CannDelta’s cannabis business consultants to start your DC medical cannabis dispensary! Call our New York office hotline to learn more:
+1 646-440-4202

Frequently Asked Questions

Washington DC does have medical dispensaries. You can find the medical dispensary that’s closest to you on DC’s Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Administration website. With more licenses being awarded in the near future, more medical cannabis dispensaries will open.

The length of time it takes to get a cannabis license will depend on the application window openings, and the amount of time required to gather, create, and submit the required documents. Generally speaking, the process could take weeks, months or longer. Each applicant’s situation has different factors that weigh into completion time. This could include difficulty in finding suitable property, acquiring funding, lack of understanding of requirements, application deficiencies, and more. 

The Internet Retailer license permits businesses without physical storefronts to sell and deliver medical cannabis and related products online or via mobile apps to eligible patients and caregivers. Deliveries, which can be made by the retailer’s staff or third-party couriers, are allowed between 9:00 AM and 9:00 PM. and must include verification of the recipient’s identity and age. However, deliveries can’t be made outside DC, to government-owned properties, schools, or near residential districts, preschools, primary or secondary schools, or recreation centers. Curbside or drive-through pickups are not allowed for these retailers.