Business

Denver City Council Approves Permanent Marijuana Delivery Changes

Doobba co-founder Ari Cohen (right) makes Denver's first marijuana delivery on August 19.
Doobba co-founder Ari Cohen (right) makes Denver's first marijuana delivery on August 19. Courtesy of Doobba
At its September 19 meeting, Denver City Council approved a handful of changes to the city's marijuana delivery program in hopes of spurring more business activity and social equity ownership.

Marijuana delivery has been allowed in Denver for over a year, but has accounted for less than one half of 1 percent of the city's total marijuana sales since it began, according to the Department of Excise and Licenses. City business licensing officials blame the disappointing numbers on dispensaries being unwilling to adopt the service, with under 5 percent of Denver's 208 marijuana stores currently offering delivery.

Denver's first marijuana delivery service, Doobba, shut down in June, citing poor sales and a lack of dispensary partners.

Denver's marijuana delivery system is split into two parts: transporters like Doobba that move marijuana from dispensaries to customers, and the dispensaries providing the products. Under the original rules, in order to offer delivery, a dispensary must attain a permit from both the state and city, then partner with a transporter. That requirement initially ran until 2024.

According to Denver license records, though, more businesses are permitted for marijuana delivery than there are stores willing to deliver; Excise and Licenses has accused dispensaries of waiting out the city's current delivery rules in order start their own delivery programs in two years. To take away that option, Excise and Licenses proposed reducing delivery and transporter fees for social equity businesses while making marijuana transporter licenses available only to social equity licensees for the foreseeable future.

"We're looking at a stabilized market, and we could all use the help we can get," Better Days Delivery owner Michael Diaz-Rivera told councilmembers during a public comment period in August. "By passing this bill, you take a step in helping us make the industry more equitable. It's about lowering barriers, and as someone who just paid $8,000 to renew my license last month, this bill would make that [happen]."

Annual marijuana delivery permit fees for both transporters and dispensaries have been reduced from $2,000 to $25 in an effort to entice more stores while making it easier for delivery services to operate, while transporter and storage licenses were reduced to $200 and $250, respectively.

To be eligible for a social equity marijuana license, applicants must qualify under one of three of the city's social equity designations: They or a family member were arrested on certain drug charges, their household earns less than 50 percent of the state median income, or they come from a community designated as a low-economic opportunity zone by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT).

Denver City Council voted unanimously to approve permanent delivery exclusivity for social equity applicants and to reduce fees at its September 19 meeting. The new rules will take effect in October.
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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