Denver Neighborhoods Open and Closed to Marijuana Businesses | Westword

Denver Announces Off-Limits Neighborhoods for Marijuana Businesses

Some neighborhoods became saturated with cannabis businesses in the early days of recreational marijuana.
Inside Medicine Man, a dispensary in Montbello.
Inside Medicine Man, a dispensary in Montbello. Scott Lentz
Share this:
Little has changed regarding Denver's list of off-limit neighborhoods for marijuana businesses, according to the city licensing department.

Before location rules for Denver medical marijuana businesses were created in the mid-2000s, dispensaries and grow operations struggled to find property owners who would lease space to federally illegal enterprises. Many of these businesses found homes in industrial areas on the fringes of the city before eventually converting to recreational production and sales.

Although the pot boom has been attributed to helping revitalize parts of Denver such as South Broadway and Five Points, some neighborhoods became saturated with marijuana businesses when Colorado was one of the only states with recreational pot sales, according to city officials. So for the past three summers, Excise & Licenses has assessed Denver's 78 official neighborhoods to determine the number of marijuana dispensaries, grows and extraction facilities there, and how those businesses align with the city's licensing, proximity and zoning requirements.

While no businesses are being forced to close if they're already located in saturated neighborhoods, new licenses won't be issued for those areas until a certain level of dispensaries and grows close or move.

As a result of the department's most recent tally, popular neighborhoods such as Baker and Five Points (RiNo included) remain off-limits for new dispensaries, as do Northeast Park Hill, Overland and Valverde; Montbello was added to the list of areas where new dispensary applications are prohibited last year. Montbello, Northeast Park Hill and Overland are barred from allowing any more marijuana cultivations, as well, and so are College View-South Platte and Elyria Swansea.

The neighborhoods on the list haven't changed, but Colorado's marijuana industry recession has still impacted it.

"There were no changes in neighborhoods of undue concentration for cultivation facilities from 2023, but there were changes to the total number of locations within those identified neighborhoods," reads an announcement from Excise & Licenses.

A handful of dispensaries have closed in the six neighborhoods listed by the city, but new license holders have quickly opened new pot shops in their place. Closed cultivations haven't seen the same response, though. According to Excise and Licenses, a combined nine growing operations have shut down between the five most concentrated neighborhoods, but none of the neighborhoods have seen enough closures to be open for new business again.

Here are the off-limits neighborhoods, and how many locations they currently have:

No more dispensaries:
Overland: 13
Northeast Park Hill: 11
Baker: 10
Five Points: 10
Montbello: 8
Valverde: 8

No more growing operations:
Northeast Park Hill: 28
Montbello: 24
Elyria Swansea: 19
Overland: 16
College View-South Platte: 13
Can you help us continue to share our stories? Since the beginning, Westword has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver — and we'd like to keep it that way. Our members allow us to continue offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food, and culture with no paywalls.