Colorado Cannabis License Guidelines

Colorado State Licensing Authority

Licensing and Enforcement Criteria

The State Licensing Authority is in charge of the entire licensing process for all cannabis licenses. Once an operation is licensed and in business, the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) is responsible for overseeing compliance.

The board issued a set of specific licensing and enforcement criteria:

  • All applicants must demonstrate at least two years of Colorado residency when applying for a license, and pass criminal and credit background checks.
  • All applicants must be 21 years old or older.

The MED Regulated Marijuana Business License Application includes addendums for:

  • Publicly Traded Companies
  • Qualified Private Fund
  • Qualified Institutional Investors
  • Marijuana Research and Development Facility

Applicants must include all the necessary addendums:

  • Publicly Traded Companies
  • Qualified Private Fund
  • Qualified Institutional Investors
  • Marijuana Research and Development Facility
  • The application includes addendums for these items.

The MED will not accept new marijuana business license applications for businesses located within a local authority’s jurisdiction unless they have advised us that they are currently accepting new Medical and/or Retail Marijuana business license applications.

Colorado Cannabis Law & Compliance

Several laws and ordinances regulate the Colorado commercial cultivation industry, as well as the many different steps in the supply chain. These laws range over dispositions for cultivators, manufacturers, distributors and retail dispensaries. The most recent news can be found on these websites:

FAQs

Our advisory team keeps abreast of the complexities of the Colorado cannabis industry. Armed with expertise in the recreational and medical distribution marketplace, we can help you gain mastery of the laws, rules, and regulations regarding Colorado commercial cannabis.

Who is qualified to purchase retail cannabis in Colorado?

Both residents and non-residents can purchase retail cannabis in Colorado so long as they are at least 21 years of age and can produce proper identification.

Does Colorado have a medical marijuana program and who is qualified to apply?

Colorado still has a medical marijuana program that allows residents 18 years of age and older with a qualifying condition to apply for a medical marijuana card. Minors (under the age of 18) with a qualifying condition(s) can apply for a medical marijuana card with the approval of a parent or guardian (must be a Colorado resident) and a certification from two separate physicians.

Colorado residents 18 years or older, and minors with parents that are Colorado residents, may apply for a medical marijuana card. Minor patients must have two separate physician certifications to apply.

What is the cost to apply for a retail dispensary license in Colorado?

For a retail location, the license application cost is $4,500 plus $2,500 due to the local government (due at the time of application). Renewal of a retail dispensary license is $1,800 annually.

What is the cost to apply for a medical dispensary license in Colorado?

To apply for a medical-only dispensary, the combined application and licensing fee is $9,000 for up to 300 patients; $16,000 for 300-500 patients; or $22,000 for more than 500 patients.

What does the application process for cannabis in Colorado entail?

All applications will include deep criminal and financial background checks. Each application must come with detailed and accurate floor plans of the potential retail operation. All owners, officers, managers and employees of a retail operation must be Colorado residents (owners must be residents for at least two years prior to application).

How long does the cannabis license application take to process?

The State Licensing authority has 45-90 days to respond to an application after submission. Once the state licenses an entity, the licensee has one year to obtain approval and licensing from their local jurisdiction.

How can licensees obtain banking services for their retail operation?

Because of the federal illegality of cannabis, many large banks refuse to do business with state-legal cannabis companies. The state of Colorado allows cannabis credit co-ops to exist to provide financial services to licensed cannabis companies in the state. These co-ops are only allowed to do business with licensed marijuana or industrial hemp operators. Cannabis credit co-ops are regulated by the State Commissioner of Financial Services, just like a regular credit union.

What products can be sold at retail cannabis dispensaries?

Dispensaries in Colorado have a wide range of products they can sell, including flower, seeds, edibles, concentrates, tinctures and topicals. They cannot sell any product that contains nicotine or alcohol.

What are the state-approved operating hours for cannabis dispensaries in Colorado?

State law allows dispensaries to be open from 8:00 a.m. to midnight, but local jurisdictions can further limit those operating hours. For example, the city of Denver only allows dispensaries to be open until 10:00 p.m.

What premises requirements must be met by dispensaries?

All retail cannabis locations must meet certain requirements regarding security and location. Generally speaking, no dispensary can exist within 1,000 feet of a school (but there are allowances for local governments to shrink that distance or allow exemptions for long-time dispensaries).

Every dispensary must also adhere to strict security and surveillance requirements. All stores must have a security alarm system and locks on all entry points and windows. These systems must be continually on and monitored. Any disturbance in the continuity must be reported to the MED. All video surveillance equipment and recordings must be kept safely stored in a limited access area (an area where only MED-badged employees can access).

Public consumption lounges, which are being called “hospitality establishments” in CO, have been approved in Denver since April 2021.

What taxes are required for cannabis in Colorado?

There is a 10% sales tax and 15% excise tax on the sale of retail cannabis in Colorado. Plus, a 2.9% state sales tax and local government sales tax. These taxes do not apply to medical marijuana.

Colorado Cannabis License Types

There are many different license types for cannabis in Colorado. We are here to help you understand which one is the best for you and your business.

Medical Marijuana Store License

It allows the holder to operate a business that sells Medical Marijuana to Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry Patients and Transporting Caregivers, as described in 44-10-501C.R.S.

Medical Marijuana Cultivation Facility License

It allows the holder to operate a cultivation business to grow and harvest Medical Marijuana, as described in 44-10-502C.R.S.

Medical Marijuana Products Manufacturer License

It allows the holder to operate a business that produces Medical Marijuana Products such as edibles, concentrates or tinctures. These licensees are only authorized to wholesale their products to MED licensed Medical Marijuana Centers as described in 44-10-503 C.R.S.

Medical Marijuana Testing Facility License

It allows the holder to operate a facility that conducts potency and contaminants testing and research for MED Medical Marijuana business licenses as described in 44-10-504 C.R.S.

Medical Marijuana Transporter License

It allows the holder to provide transportation and temporary storage services to MED Licensed Medical Marijuana Businesses as described in 44-10-505 C.R.S.

Medical Marijuana Business Operator License

It allows the holder to provide professional operational services to one or more MED Licensed Medical Marijuana Businesses as described in 44-10-506 C.R.S.

Medical Marijuana Research and Development License

It allows the holder to grow, cultivate, possess and transfer marijuana for use in research only as described in 44-10-507 C.R.S.

Retail Marijuana Store License

It allows the holder to operate a business that sells Retail Marijuana to an individual twenty-one years of age or older as described in 44-10-601 C.R.S.

Retail Marijuana Cultivation Facility License

It allows the holder to operate a facility to grow and harvest Retail Marijuana plants as described in 44-10-602 C.R.S.

Retail Marijuana Product Manufacturer License

It allows the holder to operate a facility that manufactures retail marijuana-infused products such as edibles, concentrates or tinctures as described in 44-10-603 C.R.S.

Retail Marijuana Testing Facility License

It allows the holder to operate a facility that conducts potency and contaminants testing for other MED Licensed Retail Marijuana businesses as described in 44-10-604 C.R.S.

Retail Marijuana Transporter License

It allows the holder to provide transportation and temporary storage services to Retail Marijuana Businesses as described in 44-10-605 C.R.S.

Retail Marijuana Operator License

It allows the holder to provide professional operational services to one or more Retail Marijuana Businesses as described in 44-10-606 C.R.S.

Retail Marijuana Accelerator Cultivator License

It allows the holder to operate a retail marijuana product manufacturing operation on the site of a retail marijuana products manufacturing facility with an accelerator endorsement as described in 44-10-607 C.R.S.

Retail Marijuana Accelerator Manufacture License

It allows the holder to operate a retail marijuana product manufacturing operation on the site of a retail marijuana product manufacturing facility with an accelerator endorsement as described in 44-10-608 C.R.S.

Marijuana Hospitality Business License

It allows the holder to operate a premise in which marijuana may be consumed as described in 44-10-609 C.R.S.

Retail Marijuana Hospitality and Sales Business License

Those licenses allow the holder to operate licensed premises within which marijuana may be sold and consumed as described in 44-10-610 C.R.S.

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