Nabil Rodriguez, Esq., Associate
Despite the challenges, 2020 continues to shine a light of good fortune towards marijuana legalization. On December 7, the largest, and third-largest cities in Colorado simultaneously moved forward on the availability of new types of marijuana business licenses. Following is a quick summary of the important news.
After months of stakeholder engagement, the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses provided notice to stakeholders regarding two feedback sessions on Tuesday, December 15 and Thursday, December 17 to present draft legislation to change the Denver marijuana licensing code. The changes primarily surround marijuana delivery, hospitality, and social equity, among other changes. Written comments can be submitted until January 4, 2021 at 5 p.m. MT.
The repeal of the cannabis consumption pilot program ordinance not only repeals the consumption pilot program, but also converts all cannabis consumption permits used prior to November 1, 2020 to marijuana hospitality business licenses.
The proposed hospitality ordinance allows for two new license types:
(i) Marijuana hospitality business licenses and (ii) retail marijuana hospitality and sales business licenses. The proposed hospitality ordinance further anticipates licenses beginning July 1, 2021. Of note in these draft regulations is the proposed proximity restrictions requiring hospitality businesses be located at least one thousand (1,000) feet apart. This same setback applies to retail marijuana hospitality and sales businesses, but the proximity restriction does not apply from marijuana hospitality business licensees to retail marijuana hospitality and sales businesses. As predicted, however, the proposed language provides location restrictions prohibiting marijuana hospitality business licenses and retail marijuana hospitality and sales business licenses from being issued at any location also licensed for alcoholic beverages and special event liquor permits.
The proposed omnibus ordinance: (i) revises Denver’s Marijuana Code to create opportunities for social equity applicants, (ii) modifies distribution of existing store and cultivation licenses by removing the location cap and location lottery requirements, and (iii) creates a Denver marijuana delivery program to start July 1, 2021. Under the proposed language, the moratorium on new licenses allows the director only to issue new medical and retail marijuana business licenses to social equity applicants with certain exceptions, such as converting a medical marijuana business into a retail marijuana business. Moreover, prior to July 1, 2024, only medical or retail marijuana transporters who qualify as social equity applicants and hold a valid delivery permit may deliver marijuana to private residences of customers.
In addition to these changes affecting social equity and new license types, beginning July 1, 2021, medical and retail marijuana stores are required to install and use a secure safe in a limited access area for overnight storage of cannabis and cash.
Aurora City Council gave preliminary approval for cannabis delivery Monday night, by an 8-2 vote. The ordinance will need a second vote in two weeks, and if it passes, delivery of marijuana in Aurora could begin in early 2021. Similar to the Denver delivery proposed language, Aurora’s delivery ordinance also includes a social equity stipulation, which reserves the licenses for the first three (3) years the program is in effect. The Aurora measure would allow the city’s retail marijuana stores to deliver marijuana to consumers between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. in and outside the city (so long as neighboring communities permit those deliveries).
Please reach out to the Greenspoon Marder Cannabis Practice Group in Denver if you have any questions regarding the above proposals, the submission of comments, or if you would like our assistance in drafting your comments.