Denver is poised to overhaul the local weed industry with a pair of laws that would bring cannabis products to your door and make the lucrative business more equitable.
The Denver City Council will first vote on the overhaul package Monday night. If it passes, the second vote and final vote will come hours before the unofficial cannabis holiday of April 20, when Mayor Michael Hancock is expected to sign it into law.
Both bills have been in the works for several years, according to Eric Escudero, spokesman for the city’s Department of Excise and Licenses.
The first major change would allow marijuana dispensaries to deliver weed through third-party vendors, Escudero said. Delivery drivers would need a transporter’s license. That change would also remove Denver’s 220-store cap on new recreational pot dispensaries, which Escudero said has been in effect since 2016.
In order to deliver weed or open up a new recreational shop, applicants must meet the state’s social equity criteria, Escudero added, which would give disadvantaged applicants a leg up in an industry largely made up of people who started out with money and other privileges.
Among the equity criteria, applicants must be Colorado residents and not have had a marijuana business license revoked in the past. Applicants also must meet one of the following requirements:
- Lived in certain disadvantaged areas of the state.
- Either applicant or a relative was arrested and convicted of a marijuana offense or forced into asset forfeiture due to a marijuana investigation.
- Meet certain low-income requirements.
Denver has 205 recreational stores, and the city is home to 32% of all marijuana licenses in the state, Escudero said.
Aurora legalized weed delivery — the first Colorado city to do so — late last year with at least one company launching its services late last month. Delivery is already legal in more than a dozen other states including Arkansas, California, Michigan, New Mexico and New York.
If the council approves the bills, weed delivery in Denver could start by late summer, Escudero said.
The second major change to Denver’s cannabis laws would legalize bars where customers could bring their own weed and smoke it there, as well as clubs that could sell small amounts of pot to customers who could then consume it there, according to the bill. The measure would also legalize tour buses or shuttles that would allow weed on board.
Escudero said it’s not clear when tour buses, clubs or weed bars would happen.