A Marijuana Dispensary Siting Primer

A critical component of siting a compliant, safe, and successful marijuana dispensary is the selection of an appropriate facility at which you are able to coalesce substantial community support. The Novus Group has sited numerous facilities across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by guiding clients based on the following site selection guide.


Ensure that your property is in a zone that allows marijuana uses by right or conditionally.


Verify that the property is adequately buffered from any pertinent use classifications to ensure that it does not violate state or local statute. The state prohibits dispensaries from locating within 500 feet of schools, daycares, or anywhere where children commonly congregate on a regular, scheduled basis (places where children take lessons, parks or athletic fields, places that offer children’s birthday parties, etc.). In many municipalities, local zoning has overridden state statute and provides its own buffer zone that varies in use intensity, distance, and form of measurement (lot to lot, door to door, zoning district to zoning district, etc.).

Standalone Building

Many police chiefs and security consultants have encouraged dispensaries to utilize standalone buildings as a means through which to provide the highest level of security for patients, employees, and the surrounding community.  The use of a standalone building allows dispensary operators and security personnel to control who is able to gain access on the premises at any given time, ensuring full compliance with security protocol and eliminating any threats by unauthorized people entering the building. Additionally, standalone buildings increase the ability of a in-person security guard, alarm system, or video surveillance system to appropriately guard against unwanted intruders by allowing for extensive, sensitive systems and eliminating the need to discern between an ‘intruder’ and another individual who is allowed in an adjacent unit. If a standalone building is not a possibility, the nearest residential tenant should be located in standalone buildings near the premises.

Security and operational standards

The layout and floorplan of the dispensary should yield the ability to easily comply with best practices surrounding security, patient flow, and patient privacy. The dispensary should have a sufficient footprint to ensure that it is able to accommodate patients at all times without lines that queue into the street.  Separate entry and exit doors should be available to patients to eliminate uncontrolled access into the facility.  Most importantly, the dispensary should have a shielded, separate entryway that is only utilized for delivery, cash removal, and staff entry to ensure the secure transport of goods and currency in and out of the building without undesired diversion.



Rebecca Rutenberg