Business

Native Roots to Offer Marijuana Delivery in Denver

At twenty stores, Native Roots is one of Colorado's largest dispensary chains.
At twenty stores, Native Roots is one of Colorado's largest dispensary chains. Scott Lentz
Native Roots, one of Colorado's largest marijuana operations, has joined Denver's struggling marijuana delivery scene.

The dispensary chain's store at 500 Grant Street received a local delivery permit on July 28 from the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses. According to Native Roots Chief Sales Officer Denise De Nardi, the company is targeting September 1 for a soft launch.

Although recreational pot delivery has been legal for almost a year in Denver, only nine of the city's 200-plus stores currently offer the service, according to Excise and Licenses.

Delivering marijuana in Colorado isn't as simple as bringing food to a customer's door. Local governments must opt into allowing the service first, and only dispensaries can provide products for delivery — but in order to do that, a dispensary must secure a delivery permit and partner with a licensed transporter business.

Denver's two-tier system was created in order to spur social equity business ownership by mandating that transporters qualify under designations meant to prioritize entrepreneurs from communities of low income and disproportionate drug enforcement. But dispensaries have been slow to sign up to work with such businesses, and some Denver licensing officials have suggested that dispensaries have been waiting until 2024 to start their own transport services. As a result, the city sees the Native Roots move as a hopeful sign.

"As more stores get delivery permits, we believe the industry will see that opting into delivery provides them an opportunity to grow their business while also supporting our new social equity licensees. Hopefully, this important step by Native Roots to support social equity will be duplicated by other large volume marijuana store chains in Denver soon," Excise and Licenses Executive Director Molly Duplechian says in a statement. "Now is the time for more stores to demonstrate with their actions that they are supportive of social equity and the pathway that delivery allows for more equitable access to the cannabis industry.”

Excise and Licenses recently proposed reduced licensing fees for transporters and making the social equity requirement permanent, a measure that Denver City Council will consider later this year.

"We wanted to make sure we had our selection finalized before applying," De Nardi says, adding that Native Roots had multiple transporters submit proposals, and "these take time to review." Native Roots has now agreed to terms with a Denver marijuana transporter, she notes, and will announce the new partner when contracts are finalized.

With twenty stores across Colorado, Native Roots would be the largest dispensary operation to offer marijuana delivery in Denver. Colorado dispensary chains Lightshade, Silverpeak, Star Buds and Yuma Way also have active local permits, according to Denver licensing data, but none of them currently offer delivery at any Denver locations.

Aurora and Denver are the only Colorado cities of note that now allow marijuana delivery, but Native Roots has experience with the service in Boulder, where medical marijuana (not recreational) delivery has been legal since 2020. The chain's Boulder location doesn't list delivery as an option anymore, but Native Roots did offer it for medical marijuana patients at one point. According to De Nardi, Native Roots still has an active delivery permit in Boulder, but she didn't say whether the store has plans to offer the service again.

Native Roots has seven stores in Denver and would need a local permit for each if it plans to offer delivery from all of them. The Grant Street location's permit allows it to send products to any residential address within Denver city limits, but De Nardi says the dispensary won't rush to expand on that.

"We will start offering delivery at our Grant/Speer location. We want to ensure it is successful for our transporter before expanding to our other locations," she notes. "From a customer-experience standpoint, we want to meet the customer where they are, and this will be a great value add. We are also excited to build this channel into a viable business for our transporter."
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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