Medical marijuana dispensary owners get fingered for new Denver license

Alert for dispensary owners: You'll want a clean (for the last five years) record and clean hands when you appear at the Wellington E. Webb building to file your application for a medical marijuana dispensary license.

Under the ordinance passed by Denver City Council last month, anyone who owns at least 10 percent of a dispensary must go through a thorough background check -- and that includes fingerprinting. It's part of a new licensing application that every dispensary must submit by March 1. And the city will start accepting those applications at 7:30 a.m. today.

Under the city's rules, anyone convicted of or doing time for a felony in the past five years is not eligible to be a dispensary owner.

And while that's a challenge for many would-be pot entrepreneurs, it's one of the easier parts of the process for the city, since it already does background checks for liquor-license applications. But licensing Denver's several hundred dispensaries involves all kinds of new complexities.

"We do face some unique challenges in mobilizing to implement a new type of licensing requirement for such a large group of applicants over such a short time frame," says Penny May, director of Denver Department of Excise and Licenses. "That said, as Denver Excise & Licenses (unlike other municipalities in Colorado) has so much experience with so many other types of business licenses, we have a lot of institutional experience that will help us meet this challenge."

That challenge begins for May's office this morning.

Wash your hands first.

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