The Boston Globe reported that 181 applicants were received by the commonwealth's thirty-five potential medical marijuana dispensaries. Massachusetts' medical marijuana law specifies there may be no more than five dispensaries in any one of the seven counties in the state.
Of these applications, 22 have been rejected and one applicant withdrew. Among the reasons cited for rejection were failure to incorporate as a non-profit organization and failure to show liquid assets in excess of $500,000. The 158 remaining applicants are now eligible to submit a $30,000 non-refundable dispensary application fee, which should bring in over $4.7 million for the government.
Massachusetts is not alone in charging would-be dispensary operators non-refundable fees and requiring massive amounts of cash on hand. In Arizona, applicants have to prove they have $150,000 in startup capital. If they can prove that, then there is the $5,000 non-refundable application fee to pay. The 126 dispensary operators who applied therefore dropped $630,000 into state coffers.
Nevada's recently-passed dispensary law requires proof of $250,000 in liquid assets before you can even apply for the permit. If you've got that covered, you then drop another $5,000 in a non-refundable application fee, then if you're approved, another $30,000 for your initial license. By law, it's possible for about 60 dispensaries to open in Nevada, bringing in at least $2.1 million for the state.
Throughout the fifteen medical marijuana states that have or will have operating dispensaries, many have non-refundable application fees in the thousands on top of the annual licensing fees. Washington DC requires $5,000 to apply and $10,000 to license. New Jersey requires $2,000 to apply and $20,000 to license. Vermont requires $2,500 to apply and up to $30,000 to license.
Growers - or "producers" - don't get off lightly, either. Colorado requires a cultivator to pay a $1,200 application fee and $2,750 for an annual license. Nevada will charge $3,000 annually to producers. New Mexico requires a $1,000 application fee and up to $30,000 licensing. In Connecticut, it will cost a whopping $25,000 fee to apply to be a grower and $75,000 a year to maintain the license.
With these massive upfront costs, it is no wonder dispensary marijuana ends up costing the same or more than black market marijuana. But if you thought you'd just grow your own and avoid the cost, think again. If you're in Arizona*, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts*, New Hampshire, or New Jersey, you don't get the option of growing your own medicine at home.
* Arizona only allows home grow if you're farther than 25 miles from a dispensary, which now only applies to 4.8% of the population. Massachusetts allows home grow only for case-by-case "hardship exemptions".