• Overview
  • Ordering Details
  • Licensing Details
  • FAQs

How to Incorporate a Marijuana Business

In addition to filing incorporation paperwork with the secretary of state, all marijuana retail, cultivation, research, and distribution businesses require licensing before being allowed to operate legally. Most businesses may need additional licensing to comply with mandates for the specific business activity, safety, and (unless exempt) taxation. For example businesses such as food establishments, dispensaries and hydroponic facilities require additional licensing. Requirements may also vary by the way in which business is transacted. For example if you are doing business in another state, that may require obtaining a Certificate of Authority (also called Foreign Qualification) . Failure to incorporate or obtain proper licensing for a marijuana business could leave you with penalties such as a lack of legal protection as well as criminal penalties, ranging from fines to jail time.

Currently 6 states permit the formation of recreational marijuana businesses, and are accepting license applications. Each jurisdiction has some form of regulatory board established to review, register and issue licenses for marijuana businesses. The states are Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oregon. Our cannabis incorporation package applies to these states.

How Marijuana Licensing Works

Our incorporation packages include business license research for both marijuana and other company/industry-specific licensing in one state. Using your incorporation information we perform the following:

  • Research all licensing and permit requirements at every level (Federal, State, County, Local) as well as tax registrations (sales tax, use tax, withholding tax, etc.)
  • Review and compile the license, permit and tax applications that are relevant to your specific business
  • Send you an email with links, instructions and documentation for every application, along with contact information for each respective licensing authority

Note: You would be responsible for completing and submitting the licensing applications along with paying any fees outlined in the application instructions. Application and licensing fees are outlined and vary by state with costs averaging several thousands of dollars.

If licensing research is required for multiple cities, counties, and states the cost is $66 for each location or state.

Medical vs Recreational Marijuana

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws legalizing marijuana for medical use. However, there are currently differences in the laws between medical and recreational marijuana. States are moving to consolidate both industries, but at the moment statutes on pricing, selling, buying and laws for setting up businesses in each industry are not the same in most cases. In particular the retail marijuana industry is heavily regulated and taxed at both the state and local level compared to the medical marijuana industry.

Currently 30 states and the District of Columbia are accepting license applications for medical marijuana purposes. Each jurisdiction has some form of regulatory board established to review, register and issue licenses for medical marijuana businesses. Our cannabis incorporation package applies to these states:

States with Medical Marijuana Laws
District of Columbia
North Dakota
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
Rhode Island
West Virginia

Related Articles: 6 Considerations Before Starting a Cannabis Business

Learn how to capitalize on the "Green Rush", the tremendous growth of cannabis businesses, including laws, regulations, choosing a business type as well as name, financing, keeping compliant, and more.

Cannabis Business Planning 

Related Articles: Cannabis Licensing

In order to operate legally, it is essential that you meet all necessary business license, permit, registration, and other requirements. This article covers licensing basics you should know about before you plan to start up a cannabis business.

Cannabis Licensing
Standard Multi-jurisdiction Regulated industries
For $99, you’ll receive all the information and forms necessary to obtain the licenses and permits required for your particular business in one specific city, county, and state. Our specialists are available to perform a licensing check for additional cities, counties, and states. The cost is $66 for each location or state. Choose this option if your company already has a registered agent, but you want to change your agent to BizFilings.

Certain businesses within highly regulated industries may incur additional charges. If your business falls into this category, one of our specialists will be in touch to discuss the appropriate steps and costs.

Related Articles: 6 Considerations Before Starting a Cannabis Business

Learn how to capitalize on the "Green Rush", the tremendous growth of cannabis businesses, including laws, regulations, choosing a business type as well as name, financing, keeping compliant, and more.

Cannabis Business Planning

Related Articles: Cannabis Licensing

In order to operate legally, it is essential that you meet all necessary business license, permit, registration, and other requirements. This article covers licensing basics you should know about before you plan to start up a cannabis business.

Cannabis Licensing
  • Who issues business licenses, permits and tax registrations?

    These documents are typically issued at all levels of government – federal, state and local (city, county or town).  Depending on the industry, how and where business is transacted, you may need to obtain licenses from several of these levels.

    For example, if you decide to open a bar and restaurant in Atlanta, you need all necessary licenses and permits from the city of Atlanta, the state of Georgia and the US government. So you will most likely need a Federal Tax ID (EIN) Number from the IRS, a license to sell alcoholic beverages from the state of Georgia, a State Tax ID Number to collect sales tax and withhold payroll taxes, a health permit from the city of Atlanta to prepare and sell food, as well as a basic business license to operate the restaurant within the city. These are just some of the possible licensing requirements you may incur. There are over 19,000 separate licensing jurisdictions in the US and each has its own particular licensing requirement. Be sure to review the requirements for your business.

  • What types of licenses, permits and tax registrations does a business commonly need?

    There are many licensing, permit and tax registrations that may be imposed on a business. A list of the most common licensing requirements is provided below.

    • Basic business operation license. This is a license from the city in which your business will operate, or from the local county (if the business will be operated outside of the city's legal boundaries).
    • Federal tax ID (EIN) number. Issued by the IRS, the EIN is also called a tax identification number or employer identification number, and is required for almost all types of businesses. BizFilings can assist with the obtainment of the federal tax ID (EIN) for your business. This service is included in our Deluxe Incorporation Service, can be added to our Enhanced or Basic Incorporation Services or can be purchased as a stand-alone service. View our Federal Tax ID (EIN) Obtainment Service page to learn more.
    • State tax ID number. Issued by your state’s department of revenue or taxation, the state tax ID number is also called a tax registration number. BizFilings can also assist with the preparation of the state tax ID number application form in states that require a state tax ID number. Our incorporation order form will include this option, if it is available in your desired state of incorporation.
    • DBA/fictitious business name registration. The doing business as (DBA) or fictitious business name registration happens with the appropriate state or local jurisdiction. BizFilings prepares and files DBA registrations for businesses in all 50 states. View our DBA Filing Service page to learn more about this service.
    • Home occupation permit. Your local government may require this permit if your business is home-based.
    • Zoning and land use permits. Local governments’ zoning laws may prohibit certain business activity in designated areas.
    • Building permit. If you plan on remodeling or building a commercial space, you'll need to get a building permit.
    • Health department permit. This permit is required primarily if your business involves the preparation and/or sale of food.
    • Sales tax license/sellers permit/resellers permit. This license/permit has many names and those names vary by state, but it is required for the selling of almost all products and services.
    • Fire and police department permits. These permits are required especially for businesses that will attract large numbers of customers (i.e. nightclubs and bars).
    • Alarm permits. These permits are required for businesses having an alarm that is connected to a monitoring service.
    • Special state-issued business licenses or permits. These permits are required if your business will involve the sale of the following types of products: liquor, lottery tickets, gasoline and firearms.
    • Special state-issued occupational licenses. These permits are required if you will be offering a number of state-regulated services, including: medical care, auto repair, real estate sales, tax services, insurance sales, cosmetology, and legal representation (attorneys). Please note, this is in addition to a professional license required for each individual practicing in these fields.
  • What are the consequences of failing to obtain the necessary licenses, permits and tax registrations?

    Failure to comply could jeopardize your business, resulting in expensive penalties or leaving you with no legal protection. Due to the continuous rise in traditional taxes, governments are always looking for alternative revenue streams, which often prompt increased vigilance for business license evaders. Many governments resort to hiring third-party collectors. Some of the pitfalls included in evading these licenses include:

    • You may not be able to open your new location
    • You may not be able to add a new item, service or structure
    • Your location may be padlocked
    • You may be hit with costly penalties and interest, or even personal liens
  • Which licenses, permits and tax registrations do I need?

    Requirements vary by industry, and how and where business is being transacted. BizFilings’ Business License Research service includes a complete overview for your business and provides all required license, permit and tax registration applications required for your business. Our service includes:

    • A complete overview of the licenses, permits and tax registrations that may be required for your business in one city, county and state
    • The appropriate licensing authority’s contact information, including name, address, telephone number, etc.
    • The actual license, permit and tax registration applications and associated documents necessary to obtain these documents.
    • Filing instructions for how and where to return your completed applications in order to obtain the licenses, permits and tax registrations.
  • What are “highly-regulated” industries?

    Certain industries are highly regulated by government agencies, and often incur greater requirements. In many cases, we impose additional charges to prepare a Business License Application Package for businesses in these highly regulated industries, such as:

    • Agriculture – pesticides & fertilizers
    • Animal related
    • Aviation
    • Collection/Debt management
    • Cosmetics/Vitamins
    • Daycare
    • Educational services
    • Explosives & firearms
    • Financial services
    • Gaming
    • Hazardous materials
    • Healthcare
    • Mining
    • Oil/Gas
    • Social services

    If we determine additional charges will be required, one of our Incorporation Specialists will contact you prior to proceeding with your order.

  • Will BizFilings obtain the necessary licenses, permits and tax registrations on behalf of my business?
    No. We can, however, provide you with all the necessary documents and applications required so that you may work with the federal, state and local governments to ensure your business is in compliance with these requirements.
  • Accordion Item
  • How long will it take to complete my order?

    We begin processing all orders upon payment. The total time needed for order completion varies by the formation type (incorporation or LLC) and state.

    Standard completion time for Incorporation service is typically 4-6 weeks; and 7 – 10 business days if you choose to expedite your order, though some states may process your filing faster.

    In many states you can also select a 24- or 48-hour filing option. With 24- or 48- hour filings, that is the timeframe the state takes to approve a filing after receipt of the incorporation documents. Most states do not return the state-approved documents in that timeframe, however. The incorporation will be official, but the states can often take around seven business days to return the state-approved documents.

    Other state filing orders, including foreign qualification, amendment and dissolution filings, typically take 4-6 weeks. Some can be expedited, shortening the completion time to 2-4 weeks, and even as quickly as a week or less in some states.

  • In which state should I incorporate?

    Currently, 6 states allow the formation of marijuana businesses and are accepting licensing applications: Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada and Oregon. In 2019 Maine will begin accepting licensing applications and allow the formation of marijuana businesses.

    There are many factors that determine what state is appropriate for incorporating a businesses. For example the type of business, the location (physical or online), state laws, and taxation requirements all comprise the decision making process. Ultimately, the state that provides the best outcome for all of these factors would be the location to consider for incorporation.

    BizFilings is confident in its ability to provide accurate filings, and we pride ourselves on our service. We review each order we receive to identify potential errors. In the unlikely event that an error is made, BizFilings responds promptly to remedy the error.

    We warranty our filing services against defects caused by us for the life of your company. We will absorb any fees/costs necessary to correct the error and will correct the mistake as quickly as possible.

    Additionally, on rare occasions, the state makes a mistake in entering your information. If you notice an error, contact us immediately and we will work directly with the state to correct it.

  • What information do you need to complete my incorporation?

    For incorporation orders, we typically require the following:

    • Your business type
    • Your state of incorporation
    • A name choice for your company (we require one, but ideally would like you to provide two)
    • Name, address, phone, and email for the point of contact for your order
    • Shipping contact information (if different from the main contact)
    • The legal address of the company
    • The name and address for the registered agent for your company
    • Names and addresses of directors and officers (corporations) or members/managers (LLCs)
    • Number of authorized shares and par value (corporations)
    • Whether your company will be member or manager managed (LLCs)
  • What happens if the name I want is not available?

    For incorporation orders, we request that you provide two name choices. If your first name choice is not available, we will check the availability of the second. If your second name choice is available, we will process your order using that name. If that name is not available, we will contact you for additional name choices.

    For foreign qualification and DBA orders, if your name choice is not available, we will contact you and ask for an additional name to check.

  • What happens if I change any of my information after my order is complete?

    This depends on the type of information that is changing. Some information, such as the company’s name, business purpose, number of shares and/or par value (for corporations), must be changed with the state by filing an amendment. This state filing officially updates the information the state has for your company.

    For questions on whether specific information in your state-filed documents would need to be updated by means of an amendment filing, contact our Incorporation Specialists.

  • What is a registered agent?

    The registered agent is a statutory requirement in most states. It is a person or business that is responsible for the receipt of important legal and tax documents on behalf of your business.

    The registered agent must have a physical address in the state of incorporation and/or state of qualification, if you are registering to transact business in a state other than your state of incorporation. The registered agent must also be accessible at that address during normal business hours.

    BizFilings provides Registered Agent Service in all 50 states, and in addition to fulfilling this statutory requirement, BizFilings provides a number of tools and resources to help your company stay compliant with the ongoing requirement of your state of incorporation/qualification.

  • Is Registered Agent service included in my order?

    BizFilings includes six months of Registered Agent Service free with our Incorporation service packages and our Foreign Qualification service. By offering this service, BizFilings not only fulfills your state’s legal requirement but also provides ongoing compliance assistance for your business. In order to avoid interruption of this valuable service, customers are enrolled in our convenient auto-renewal program. For $167 per year, your Registered Agent Service will automatically be renewed to help ensure your company remains in good standing with the state. You also have the option to renew your Registered Agent Service for two or three-year terms and save. You can select to renew for two years for $249 (a $129 savings) or for three years for $348 (a $219 savings). And not to worry, you will be emailed an alert 30 days in advance of the automatic payment. You can learn more about our auto-renewal program in our Terms of Use.

    If you don't have a credit card on file with BizFilings, you can renew your Registered Agent Service by check. You can also contact us at any time to change your payment method.

Cannabis Business Package


Licensing research and applications include one city in one county in one state. $66 for additional locations.

Tools to Help You Choose

We have resources to help you understand your options

Back To Top