As January 1 draws closer, the biggest question in Colorado has been: What will be the first shops legally allowed to sell recreational cannabis to adults 21 and over? Now we know...sort of.
Yesterday, the State of Colorado became the first state to license recreational marijuana dispensaries when the Department of Revenue's Marijuana Enforcement Division mailed out 348 retail marijuana licenses to growers, retail stores, infused-product manufacturers and even three testing facilities. That total includes 136 pot shops licensed to sell cannabis starting January -- 1 so long as they have local approval. (Read the entire list below.)
According to state law, all applicants for recreational marijuana sales licenses in this first phase had to be medical marijuana businesses in good standing with the state. The MED list doesn't note applicants chose to go all-out for recreational sales and which ones have applied to be dual-use medical and recreational shops. From what we've seen, though, the majority seem to be opting for cohabitation in one location, which requires a lot of structural work in order to conform with the rules.
That's why in Denver, where many of the current dispensaries are located, there may just be a dozen recreational marijuana shops open on New Year's Day -- despite the state mailing 102 licenses to retail stores in Denver on Monday. A number of those facilities are MMJ dispensaries we've reviewed, including 3-D Dispensary, A Cut Off the Top, Alternative Medicine on Capitol Hilll, Altitude Wellness, CAM, Caregivers for Life, Ivita Wellness and dozens of others.The state also mailed licenses to 143 cultivation facilities, 22 MIPs and three testing facilities in Denver.
A few mountain towns also had shops gain approval, including Steamboat, Breckenridge, Telluride, Frisco, Silverthorne, Nederland, Alma, Idaho Springs and Aspen.
According to the MED release, the centers all went through a "rigorous Retail Marijuana licensing process," including background checks and fingerprinting. That point is highlighted, as if to underscore its importance given the federal raids on local dispensaries in Denver and Boulder that were supposedly operating legally under local rules.
"It has taken an enormous team effort to be able to issue state licenses in the timelines identified in Amendment 64," said Barbara Brohl, executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue, in a release. "The Division takes its responsibility very seriously and will continue to ensure a robust and effective regulatory and enforcement program."
The speedy turnaround is definitely notable: All of these applications have been approved in less than two months -- a very quick pace compared to the state's medical marijuana licensing, which has yet to catch up on years of backlogs.
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