Legal Blog

What Do I Need To Apply For An Adult-Use Cannabis Business License?

Dr Jolly's Cannabis Dispensary in Bend, Oregon, USA. Selling, THC and CBD edibles, flower, wax, concentrates, joints, beverages.In September 2023, the Maryland Cannabis Administration’s (“MCA”) 30-day application period commences for individuals and businesses interested in applying for a standard or micro cannabis license in Round 1. The MCA announced an adult-use cannabis license application must include a detailed operational plan, diversity plan and business plan. If you are interested in applying for an adult-use cannabis license, consider the following questions:

Operational Plan – How will you build a business that complies with applicable regulations?

Applicants will need to develop a detailed operational plan that is compliant with the customized regulations established by MCA. The MCA has not yet published the above-noted regulations. We recommend that prospective applicants frequently check the MCA’s website for updates.

Diversity Plan – Will the co-owners of your business meet the MCA’s diversity requirements?

The Cannabis Reform Act (HB556/SB516) requires that all applicants in Round 1 qualify as social equity applicants. Businesses and individuals interested in applying for a cannabis license in Round 1 should ensure their co-owners meet the MCA’s diversity requirements.

A “social equity applicant” is defined as an applicant for a cannabis license or registration that:

  1. Has at least 65% ownership and control held by one or more individuals who:
    1. Have lived in a disproportionately impacted area for at least five of the ten years immediately preceding the submission of the application;
    2. Attended a public school in a disproportionately impacted area for at least five years; or
    3. For at least two years, attended a 4-year institution of higher education in the state where at least 40% of the individuals who attended the institution of higher education are eligible for a Pell Grant; or
  2. Meets any other criteria established by the MCA.

A “disproportionately impacted area” is defined as an area that had above 150% of the state’s 10-year average for cannabis possession charges. The MCA will share a map of disproportionately impacted areas and associated zip codes in Maryland in the coming weeks.

Business Plan – How will you fund business operations and acquire qualifying real estate?

Applicants will need to develop a detailed business plan that provides an overview of the company’s objectives and how it plans to achieve its goals. As part of the business plan, applicants will need to identify sources of financing and qualifying real estate.

For all updates, please visit the MCA’s website at Complete the New Cannabis License Information Form to be notified when the application is published and for more information on how to apply. If you are interested in applying for an adult-use cannabis license and need assistance developing a detailed operational, business or diversity plan, please contact me at 310-575-0302 or


ABOUT JON WACHS | 301.575.0302

As founder of the firm’s Cannabis Law group, Jon Wachs is a recognized resource on issues relating to the evolving relationship between cannabis law and intellectual property protection.  He has worked with many operators in the cannabis industry to navigate the rules and processes relating to specific state medical cannabis programs.  Mr. Wachs provided essential legal support to obtain required Maryland regulatory approval for the transfer of several licenses affected by a multi-billion dollar business combination.  He also facilitated a series of business transactions involving the sale, purchase and combination of integrated cannabis cultivation, processing and dispensary businesses.