Ever since the moratorium on cannabis businesses expired on the first of this year, the Denver City Council has been discussing what to do about licensing of businesses in the city. They have even formed the Special Issues Marijuana Moratorium Committee, a group that will inevitably determine what happens with the licensing of future businesses.
According to Westword, the Committee is currently consulting stakeholders and local people in the community to try and come to a consensus about what should be done. While they were originally considering extending the moratorium so that no new businesses can pop up, they are now considering letting it end, but capping the amount of businesses and grows that the city can have. Medical and recreational grows will be considered together, and there will be no cap on the number of edibles manufacturers.
The cap will more than likely be based off of something like zip codes, because the city wants to avoid any one area getting oversaturated with cannabis grows or dispensaries. Currently, there are a bunch of grow warehouses all together on the 1-70 corridor, and the “green mile” on South Broadway is clustered with dispensaries, since these businesses all popped up before the regulation of dispensaries being 1,000 feet apart was put into place. This new rule will look to avoid a similar occurrence in the future.
The newly licensed businesses would need to abide by the location laws, but would be allowed to move as long as they aren’t breaking any other rules, or moving to an oversaturated location. Grows and dispensaries that go out of business could have their spaces taken over by existing businesses that are looking to expand, as long as they have the proper approval. Because this new way of doing things would be looking at how many cannabis businesses operate in an area, not how many licenses are given out, this means that businesses could now switch from being just medical to being recreational without a huge hassle, or vice versa, something that has been an issue in the past.
“We have a significant tilt toward medical licenses right now,” Council Representative Robin Kniech told Westword. “Both are existing locations, but most of the pending applications we have in the pipeline are for medical facilities . . . One of the reasons we’re focusing on locations is we actually don’t want to stop individuals from converting to retail or recreation. We think that that is a better market, it is more regulated and frankly, it pays sales tax. So if a patient needs medicine, there are adequate places to do that.”
Although some headway is being made with these proposals and discussions, there are still some kinks to work out. The current ruling idea is to use a lottery system to determine who gets business spaces, but many feel that this isn’t the most effective way to handle the large number of applicants, and there are still some discussions going on about best cannabis businesses practices and how the cap should be treated overall. However, it is clear that medical and retail cannabis in Colorado is not a force that can be stopped, and upward growth is inevitable.