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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.