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Running a retail cannabis business can be taxing if you don’t know what you’re doing. Any small business requires a level of professionalism, but a cannabis business is unique in that the laws of each state, county, and even city differ across the U.S.
Without a consensus, even a seasoned pro in one state will still have to study up on other states, and even once you get the hang of a state’s laws, they can quickly change at any given election. Here’s everything you need to know about operating a compliant cannabis business in Colorado, and the state’s cannabis laws.
Yes, both retail and medical businesses need a license per C.R.S. 12-43.3
The Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) manages both retail and medical marijuana licenses. There are 7 licenses available for each retail and medical: Marijuana Center, Optional Premises Cultivation, Infused Product Manufacturer, Testing Facility, Transporter, Operator, and Cultivation, Research, and Development Facility.
It is illegal to perform any unlicensed activity on licensed premises.
It can be done online at the Colorado.gov links provided above. You’ll need to provide a completed application, all necessary supporting documentation, and a check or money order for the full application fee made out to the Department of Revenue.
Cost depends on the type of business you currently run and are applying for.
Here’s a full fee chart, and some highlights are:
Medical Marijuana Center – $9,000-$22,000
Royalty Interest Holder – $200-$400
Current Medical Store Adding Retail – $2,250 + $250 local
Retail Marijuana Store – $4,500 + $2,500 local
Yes – renewal fees range from $1800-$7100, depending on the size and type of business.
A marijuana center license is needed to sell, and a separate medical and retail license must be obtained. Caregivers need a caregiver designation on a consumer medical marijuana card and may be required to obtain a Transporter license.
Yes, and, as described in the fee schedule above, fees are much cheaper for medical facilities adding cultivation or retail operations.
Keep in mind although Colorado is famous for being the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, it’s still banned in most counties. Here’s a comprehensive map of which counties allow medical and retail businesses. Always contact your local government prior to applying for a state license.
Yes, and each city is different. Denver requires a Cannabis Consumption License, which can be obtained online at Denvergov.org.
The location of your cannabis events determines which license you’ll need to pursue. If you’re attending an event like a High Times Cannabis Cup, you’re actually a vendor at that event.
Holding your own offsite events puts you in a High Times position where you need to file the proper city and county licenses. Work with the venue to ensure this is completed in a timely manner. High Times was able to host several Cannabis Cups in Denver, but the 4/20 event was moved to California because permits were easier to obtain.
Yes, you can hold more than one license of any type. You can hold events on your premises, host offsite events, or attend offsite events proudly representing your business.
Reading, understanding, and consistently applying Colorado state cannabis regulations is essential. During the application process, your entire organization will be tested on compliance competency.
Also track everything. Record every interaction. Have every dollar, plant, and product tracked from seed to sale. A solid POS that can automatically interface with the state’s tracking system is only the start of what you’ll need to stay compliant.
Required cannabis business security measures will cost at least $100,000. Video surveillance, security lighting, transportation and waste disposal processes, platforms, and procedures need to be in place from day one.
Cloud video data storage will be a significant cost for startup businesses. Plan ahead for this.
It’s a funny question, because you’ll be labeling all product that enters and exits your retail store. There are no specific regulations about packaging on premises, but cannabis must be already sealed before transport.
Yes and no. Generally you can’t sell alcohol or tobacco at cannabis dispensaries or cannabis at smoke shops, liquor shops, etc. Terpenes (basically cannabis essential oils) and hemp products have different rules. It’s possible to create cannabis-flavored products that don’t include THC.
Also, tinctures contain alcohol, so even though THC vodka or beer (or even vodka or beer without cannabis) would be illegal in Colorado dispensaries, alcohol-based tinctures are allowed.
You can. So long as you meet the requirements, you can house everything in one building. Each license can be obtained and stacked on each other.
You can’t give away products, and the seed-to-sale tracking system ensures each plant is sold.
Your store can be open anytime, and many in the state are open 24/7.
You can (unless your city or county ordinances forbid it).
18 for medical and 21 for recreational.
Colorado’s system of record for the cannabis industry is Franwell’s Metrc POS platform. Your POS should ultimately report directly to Metrc directly to seamlessly remain compliant.
You’ll need to pay Franwell $40 per month per Metrc license and $0.25 to $0.45 for package and plant tags.