Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Denver: Guess how many file by March 1 and win a marijuana lei

The stereotypical pothead moves slowly -- but this is ridiculous.

By last Friday -- the end of the second week during which medical marijuana dispensaries could file their now-required dispensary applications with the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses -- exactly 61 had done so.

Which means that with just five days left to file, more than 400 dispensaries have yet to do so.

Do the math: By February 8, the first day that dispensaries could file the applications required by a January vote of Denver City Council, 484 businesses that said they were operating, or would be operating, as dispensaries had filed sales-tax licenses with the city. If any of them want to be in business after March 1, they will have to have filed their dispensary application by then.

So that means this week, 425 dispensaries -- and anyone who owns 10 percent or more of a dispensary, who must be fingerprinted for a background check -- could be trekking up to the second floor of the Wellington E. Webb building.

The product they're pedaling aside, it's not a surprise that many of them are taking their time: The application process is very involved; it involves a site plan, a security plan, and a map that shows that there are no schools, daycare centers or other dispensaries within the 1,000 foot buffer zone also created by the new Denver ordinance. And when a dispensary files, it must also pay upwards of $5,000 to the city -- the cost of the background check, the application fee and the first-year of the license.

Which also means that by March 1, the city could have banked close to $2.5 million from dispensaries -- not including sales taxes.

But that depends on how many dispensaries actually file. Want to bet on the final number of dispensary applications by the end of business on March 1? Put your guess in the comments section below.

The person who comes closest will get my marijuana lei from the Cannabis Holiday Fair.

And a major rush.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun