Medical marijuana dispensaries in Denver have five days left to get a license

Colorado's medical marijuana industry has been compared to the Gold Rush of 150 years ago, but so far, there's been no rush for dispensaries to get legal in Denver.

Under Council Bill 34, a dispensary must have a city sales-tax license and also apply for a specific dispensary license by March 1. But while about 500 sales-tax licenses have been issued for dispensaries, fewer than a hundred dispensary applications have been received at the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses since the city started accepting them on February 8.

Do the math: Over three weeks, fewer than a hundred dispensaries applied. In the week remaining, another four hundred dispensaries could apply -- going through an involved process that includes floor plans, security plans, an area map and the owners of the dispensary all showing up in person to get fingerprinted for background checks.

On the first day that the city started accepting applications, a few hardy souls waited overnight to be first in line. But those were the over-achievers.

Looks like the city could be going through a lot of ink pads over the next five days.

Here's the deadline information, according to the city ordinance passed by Denver City Council in January:

On or after March 1, 2010, it shall be unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise distribute any marijuana for medical use in Denver without obtaining a license to operate as a medical marijuana dispensary pursuant to the requirements of this article...Any medical marijuana dispensary that has commenced operation prior to March 1, 2010 and for which a license application has been filed pursuant to this article prior to that date may continue in operation pending final action by the director on the application. Any such preexisting medical marijuana dispensary that does not or cannot meet the license requirements set forth in this article and therefore fails to obtain a license shall be terminated immediately upon such denial.

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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