Marijuana Dispensaries Will Remain Open at Level Red Restrictions

Marijuana dispensaries have been considered essential businesses in Colorado during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marijuana dispensaries have been considered essential businesses in Colorado during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jacqueline Collins
Marijuana dispensaries and businesses will remain open as Denver and fourteen other counties in Colorado move to Level Red on the Department of Public Health and Environment's dial to help stop the spread of COVID-19 cases.

Under Level Red restrictions, which take effect November 20, restaurants will be closed to indoor dining, gym capacities will be further limited, and no indoor events will be allowed. But according to officials with the state Marijuana Enforcement Division, the Governor's Office and the City of Denver, operations at marijuana stores will continue under the same public-health guidelines that are currently in force.

Retail businesses, including dispensaries, are limited to 50 percent capacity during Level Red restrictions, with curbside pick-up and to-go options encouraged to limit human contact, especially for elderly and at-risk individuals.

The state has introduced a new status beyond Level Red: Level Purple, which call for curbside and to-go orders only at retail operations — but even in counties that go to Level Purple, dispensaries should be allowed to remain open for in-person sales based on previous executive orders from Governor Jared Polis.

Even so, over the last week, several dispensaries in the metro area closed for in-person sales and are now allowing only to-go and pick-up orders.

"Due to a recent spike in cases as well as new restrictions implemented by the City, The Herbal Cure will temporarily be switching to online and phone orders only. To keep our staff and valued customers healthy, please call ahead or check out our online menu to have your order safely fulfilled," reads an announcement from The Herbal Cure, a Denver dispensary.

Although dispensaries and marijuana businesses are considered critical operations by the State of Colorado, and are allowed to stay open even at Level Purple, the MED reminded pot business owners that their workplaces aren't exempt from certain requirements in a memo sent out November 17.

"Such designation does not exempt Licensees from the requirements reflected in the public health and executive orders," the MED noted. "Rather, Regulated Marijuana Businesses must still comply with the public health and executive order requirements for critical businesses. These include compliance with social distancing requirements; enforcing the requirement that employees, customers and patients wear a protective face covering unless this cannot be medically tolerated; and implementation of disease prevention measures for the workplace, employees and customers." 
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Thomas Mitchell has written about all things cannabis for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate and general news along the way for publications such as the Arizona Republic, Inman and Fox Sports. He's currently the cannabis editor for
Contact: Thomas Mitchell