Cannabis Dispensary Compliance Checklist for First-Time Owners

On May 1, 2023 — By

Opening a cannabis dispensary can be an exciting and profitable venture, but it also requires strict adherence to regulations and laws. First-time dispensary owners must prioritize cannabis compliance to adhere to rules around licensing, security, product labels and packaging, testing, advertising, audits and age verification — while always being aware of state and local laws.

In this blog, we’ll cover the key components of a cannabis dispensary compliance checklist to help ensure that your dispensary operates legally and sustainably over the long term.

Obtain the Correct Licensing & Permits for Cannabis Compliance

Before opening, the first item on your cannabis compliance checklist is to obtain all necessary licenses and permits to operate legally. The specific documents required may vary depending on your state and local regulations but typically include a dispensary compliance license, a sales tax permit, a local business license and a state cannabis cultivation, manufacturing or distribution license. They also may differ depending on if you’re dispensing recreational or medical cannabis (or both).

Dispensary owners need to follow the application process and requirements to obtain each license and permit. This may involve submitting detailed information to a compliance board about your business structure, financials, security plan and regulatory compliance plan. It’s important to research the application process and compliance requirements for each license/permit in your area and ensure that you provide all necessary documentation to avoid delays or denials.

In addition to obtaining the necessary licenses and permits, cannabis businesses need to stay up to date on renewals and expiration dates. Make sure to keep track of when each license/permit needs to be renewed and submit all required paperwork and fees on time to avoid any interruptions in your dispensary’s operation.

By prioritizing licensing and permits as a key component of your cannabis dispensary compliance checklist, you can ensure that you’re operating legally and avoid fines or loss of your license.

Ensure Your Security Is Up to Code

Security is another critical aspect of a cannabis dispensary compliance checklist. To ensure the safety of your customers, employees and products, you must follow the security requirements outlined by your state and local regulations.

Security requirements for cannabis dispensaries may include installing cameras and alarms to prevent theft and unauthorized access. You’ll need to choose the right security system for your dispensary based on factors such as:

  • The size of your space
  • The number of entrances and exits
  • Your budget

Additionally, it’s important to regularly test and maintain your security system to ensure it functions properly.

Other security requirements may include employee background checks and strict protocols around accessing and handling cannabis products. Make sure to familiarize yourself with all security requirements in your area and implement them in your dispensary. You may also be subject to an inspection by a cannabis compliance officer.

In addition to following these security requirements, train your employees on security procedures and protocols. This includes training on how to respond to potential security threats, as well as how to handle and store cannabis products and cash correctly.

By prioritizing security in your cannabis dispensary compliance checklist, you can ensure that your dispensary is safe and secure for everyone involved.

Purchase Cannabis Compliance Labels & Packaging

Your cannabis product labels and packaging must also meet dispensary compliance requirements. Every product you retail must have an accurate label with the proper information to meet state and local regulations. This could be on the same cannabis label with your logo and marketing material or a separate sticker on the packaging.

Cannabis dispensary labels usually must include information on the product’s:

  • Potency
  • Dosage suggestions
  • Ingredients
  • Weight
  • Strain
  • Sale date

Some laws also require warning labels with specific information. When reviewing your dispensary inventory checklist and purchasing packaging, it’s also worth considering your customers. For instance, certain clientele may appreciate eco-friendly packaging or smell-proof bags for their purchases


Test Your Products for Quality Control

To comply with regulations around product testing and quality control, conduct regular testing on your cannabis products to ensure that they meet safety and quality benchmarks. This may involve testing for:

  • Potency
  • Pesticides
  • Heavy metals
  • Other contaminants

Testing is a crucial part of cannabis compliance to make sure you’re offering your customers safe products that meet regulatory standards.


Comply With Advertising Restrictions

While advertising and marketing are crucial for any business, cannabis dispensary owners must comply with strict regulations around the advertising and marketing of their products. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind for your checklist:

  • Check for specific laws: Regulations around advertising and marketing cannabis products can vary based on state and local laws. Generally, these laws restrict the types of media, messaging and targeting allowed.
  • Know the types of media and messaging you can use: Depending on your location, you may not be able to advertise on specific platforms or use certain types of language in your advertisements. Design your marketing strategy accordingly.
  • Market your dispensary within the limits of the law: Despite these restrictions, there are still many ways to market your dispensary effectively. Consider strategies such as in-store promotions, word-of-mouth marketing and a strong social media presence to promote your dispensary within the limits of the law.

By following cannabis compliance regulations around advertising and marketing, dispensary owners can avoid fines or loss of their license — while growing a solid customer base through effective marketing strategies.

Conduct Audits & Follow Proper Dispensary Compliance in Day-to-Day Operations

Cannabis dispensary compliance must be maintained daily through audits and operations. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

  • Understand the auditing process and what to expect: Regulatory agencies may conduct audits or inspections of your dispensary to ensure compliance with state and local regulations. It’s essential to understand the auditing process so you can prepare your dispensary accordingly.
  • Know the requirements for maintaining compliance on a day-to-day basis: Compliance with regulations is an ongoing process that requires attention to detail and careful monitoring of operations. Make sure you understand the specific requirements for maintaining compliance on a day-to-day basis, such as keeping an accurate dispensary inventory checklist and other records.
  • Stay organized and on top of compliance requirements: To ensure that you’re maintaining compliance with regulations, stay organized and up-to-date with requirements. This may involve using software or tools to track compliance tasks, creating standard operating procedures for your staff or conducting regular internal audits.

Prioritizing compliance with regulations around audits and operations allows cannabis dispensary owners to stay within the law and continue to operate.

Maintain Age Verification Protocols

Compliance with regulations around age verification for cannabis products is crucial for any dispensary. Understand the rules for verifying the age of customers in your area. Depending on your location, this may involve using specific forms of identification or following particular methods for age verification.

It’s also vital to ensure that your staff is adequately trained on age verification protocols — and that they consistently follow them — to avoid selling cannabis products to minors (always check IDs!). By prioritizing compliance with regulations around age verification protocols, dispensary owners can provide safe and responsible access to cannabis products.

Check State & Local Laws for Regulatory Compliance

While we’ve mentioned it throughout this guide, the importance of compliance with state and local laws cannot be overstated for cannabis dispensary owners. While federal laws continue to prohibit the use and sale of cannabis, many states and localities have enacted laws that allow for legal recreational and medical cannabis use and sale. Understanding your area’s specific rules and regulations ensures that your dispensary complies with all of them — including those related to paying taxes.

To stay current on changes to state and local regulations, regularly check for updates and attend cannabis industry events and meetings where changes to regulations may be discussed. Work closely with regulatory agencies in your area and maintain a positive relationship with them.

By prioritizing compliance with state and local laws as a key component of your cannabis dispensary compliance checklist, you can ensure that your business flourishes.

Get Your Cannabis Product Labels & More at

Dispensary owners must prioritize compliance with regulations around product labeling and packaging. offers a wide range of products to help you meet these requirements, including 2×3 cannabis product labels and custom dispensary bags. Our labels and bags are fully customizable and made from high-quality materials. Visit today to learn more about how we can help you complete your cannabis dispensary compliance checklist.

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