The Colorado marijuana industry kicked-off the New Year with several changes to the regulatory framework guiding legal marijuana businesses, including a few new license types:

  • Licensed hospitality businesses are now authorized to allow for social consumption.
  • Starting January 2, 2020, medical marijuana stores in Colorado may apply for a delivery permit through the Marijuana Enforcement Division (the “MED”). Retail marijuana stores may begin applying for delivery permits in January 2021.

With the availability of these new licenses, it appears as though marijuana in Colorado is going through a stage of normalization and acceptance. Great news! But it doesn’t come without a catch. First, the good news.

Social Consumption

Although adults over 21 may lawfully possess marijuana and marijuana products in Colorado, consumers have been limited in where they can legally consume it. It is illegal to smoke in public, most hotels ban smoking or marijuana use on their property, and even most residential leases do not allow the use of marijuana on property. With the authorization of Licensed Hospitality Businesses, recreational consumers will now have a more options for safe, legal consumption. These options would include pure consumption spaces, consumption spaces that sell food and even mobile consumption lounges.

Marijuana Delivery

Similar to marijuana businesses in California (not to mention most other non-marijuana industries) the convenience of delivery services is now coming to Colorado consumers. It will begin with medical marijuana in 2020 and recreational cannabis will follow next year.

Of course, it’s just not that easy.

Each new license type requires local governmental approval in the form of an ordinance or local resolution authorizing the license type. Although the MED is now accepting applications for these new license types, without local approval in place, the MED cannot award certain licenses. As explicitly stated by the MED in an industry-wide bulletin on January 7, 2020, there is no requirement that jurisdictions authorize marijuana delivery. In fact, there is no requirement for local jurisdictions to authorize any of the new license types. For the local jurisdictions that may already have a social consumption ordinance in place, such as Denver and Pueblo, there is no requirement that the local jurisdiction amend or modify its current plan.

That being said, it becomes critical to work with your local representatives and elected officials to better understand the license types they are willing to authorize. More importantly, it is the time to advocate for your ultimate business goals. At Greenspoon Marder, we have extensive experience drafting ordinances and communicating with local representatives to advocate for license models that make sense.