How can I apply to Maryland’s cannabis license lottery?

Maryland's cannabis license

Maryland's cannabis license

As of September 2021, Maryland’s cannabis license application process may vary based on the specific type of license you are interested in and the regulations set by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC). Since then, many states like Maryland have held lottery-based cannabis business licensing processes which we’ll uncover in this blog.

Entering the Maryland cannabis market:

The first week that Maryland’s cannabis industry was up for business for adult use, on July 1, saw sales of $21 million. The Maryland cannabis license lottery presents a chance for business owners to perhaps break into the lucrative east coast market while enjoying relatively modest entry requirements, such as the lack of a property requirement and a low application cost. Although the needed written plans are lengthy and have a pass/fail mark, candidates don’t want to take the chance of failing and missing the lottery entirely. Waiting for the next round is risky since application processes frequently take longer than expected and because licensees in later rounds often forfeit their first profits and the chance to establish themselves as market leaders in Maryland. We can help you with the submission requirements that include;

  1. Detailed Operational Plan;
  2. Business Plan;
  3. and a comprehensive diversity & social equity plan

What kind of timeline are we looking at for businesses licensed in Maryland?

In November 2022, Maryland voters approved the legalization of adult-use cannabis in a referendum that was prompted and followed by legislative action. Beginning on July 1, 2023, adult-use cannabis sales were permitted at medical cannabis stores under the new law. In September 2023, the 30-day application period for new licenses will start (you can sign up on the Administration website for an application release notification). The Administration released the Emergency Regulations, which went into force on July 1. They frequently refer to the current medicinal cannabis laws. Applications from Maryland will be submitted, evaluated by the Administration to determine whether they pass or fail, and then entered into a lottery. Licenses are expected to be granted by January 2024.

What should I know about the Maryland cannabis application process?

Hopeful candidates should start preparing now for a successful application based on the present law and the Maryland Cannabis Administration (“Administration”) Emergency Regulations before applications for their state’s cannabis business license lottery are released in September 2023.

It might be difficult to become licensed to operate a cannabis business, and there are many different ways to do it. The three primary licensing procedures are lottery, rolling, and merit-based scoring. Most countries employ one or a mixture of these techniques, and licensing procedures vary widely. In the event of a tie, merit-based applications may lead to a lottery. In contrast, a lottery may be required for merit-based applications. So what should you know about how the process will be accessed?

  • The quantity of licenses available should be considered in any jurisdiction. There may be a few or a few hundred licenses available for lotteries.
  • Number of applications per applicant: If more than one application is permitted, financially sound candidates may benefit by submitting more than one application.
  • Property Requirement: If securing a property is necessary for the application, this may restrict the number of applications each applicant can submit (even for well-funded organizations) and act as a barrier to entrance.
  • Application price: Applicants for social equity frequently obtain a discount, and a modest application price will guarantee hundreds of applicants in a lottery.
  • Application Requirements: Applicants must satisfy the jurisdiction’s requirements and specific eligibility conditions. Business fundamentals may be needed for a lottery.

How many Maryland cannabis licenses are available in the first round of applications?

  • Retail (Dispensary) Licenses: 80 
  • Cultivation (Grower) Licenses: 20 
  • Processor (Manufacturer) Licenses: 40 
  • Additional Micro licenses are available in undetermined quantities. 


  • Only one application for each license type and two for any license type may list the same applicant in one application round.
  • The application fee is $5000 per adult-use license and $1000 for micro-license applications.
  • Additionally, the Administration may not demand that a candidate have any real estate or other assets to operate a cannabis business at the time of the application.

General steps you might take to apply for a cannabis license in Maryland:

1. Determine License Type: Decide on the type of cannabis license you want to apply for, such as a cultivation license, processing license, dispensary license, or other relevant category.

2. Review Regulations: Familiarize yourself with the regulations, guidelines, and requirements outlined by the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission (MMCC) for the specific type of license you’re interested in.

3. Prepare Application Documents (Business, operations, and diversity plans):

Gather all required documents, including financial statements, business plans, security plans, floor plans, site plans, operational plans, and any other documentation needed for the MMCC.

4. Create a Company Entity: If you still need to, establish a legal business entity that meets the state’s requirements for operating a cannabis-related business.

5. Application Submission:

Prepare and submit your application through the MMCC’s online application portal or as directed in the application instructions. Pay any required application fees.

What happens after application submission?

  • Background Checks and Financial Review:
    • Undergo background checks and financial reviews, which may involve providing information about your business partners, key personnel, and economic history.
  • Application Review:
    • The MMCC will review your application for completeness, accuracy, and regulation compliance. This review process may include evaluating your business plan, security measures, operational protocols, etc.
  • Scoring and Ranking (If Applicable):
    • In some cases, applications may be scored and ranked based on specific criteria the MMCC sets. Your application’s score may impact your chances of receiving a license.
  • License Issuance and Compliance:
    • If your application is successful, you will receive a provisional or final license from the MMCC.
    • Follow all requirements and regulations outlined by the MMCC for maintaining and operating your cannabis business.

It’s important to note that the application process for cannabis licenses can be competitive and complex. Consulting with legal and industry experts knowledgeable about Maryland’s cannabis regulations can be invaluable in ensuring that your application is complete, accurate, and well-prepared. Additionally, regularly checking the MMCC’s official website for updates and announcements is crucial to stay informed about any changes to the application process.

Contact our regulatory team to get started on your application now!

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