Business

Den-Rec Dispensary Settles With City, Avoids License Revocation

Den-Rec operates two dispensaries in Denver.
Den-Rec operates two dispensaries in Denver. Thomas Mitchell
The City of Denver and Denver Recreational Dispensary have reached a settlement that will allow the marijuana business to remain open.

Better known as Den-Rec, the company operates two dispensaries and two growing operations in Denver, but was facing potential license revocation by the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses. The department had charged Den-Rec with violations of eleven marijuana licensing rules, including the unlawful sale or distribution of marijuana and having a licensee with a criminal history — after co-owner Marc Monaco was arrested in 2021 for allegedly trying to sell around 22 pounds of marijuana to a police informant.

Monaco pleaded guilty to a single marijuana concentrate conspiracy charge in February and the other charges were dropped, according to the Denver District Attorney's Office; he received probation.

Because Monaco was technically still part of Den-Rec ownership, according to documents filed with Excise and Licenses, the department pursued disciplinary action while the stores remained open, with Den-Rec's Denver business licenses on the line.

Now, under a March 17 agreement between the two parties, Den-Rec has ninety days to remove Monaco "from all business operations and ownership" in order to keep its licenses. If Den-Rec fails to do so, commits another marijuana code violation or sells part of the business back to Monaco within a year of the agreement, Den-Rec ownership must voluntarily surrender all marijuana business licenses in Denver and pay a $50,000 fine. In the meantime, Den-Rec's Denver locations are open, as is a third dispensary in Lyons.

Excise and Licenses declined to comment on the settlement. Den-Rec co-owner Ryan Buffkin says the business is "completely compliant" and had "nothing to do with" any illegal marijuana sales.

According to a Denver Police Department report on Monaco's arrest, a confidential police informant had agreed to buy 22 pounds of marijuana for a total of $44,000 from Monaco, with Monaco providing a little under seven pounds at the time and arranging for the rest to be picked up at his residence later that day. A DPD detective obtained a warrant to search Monaco's house, where he reportedly found just under 17 pounds of marijuana, as well as "several additional pounds of marijuana, $143,866 in cash, several firearms, a heat sealer, a digital scale, a money counter, two ledgers, and miscellaneous packaging items."

Westword has been unable to reach Monaco, whose ownership license with the state Marijuana Enforcement Division is currently suspended. 
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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 westword.com.
Contact: Thomas Mitchell