Yes, it is legal to cultivate cannabis in Denver County pursuant to Amendment 64 of the State of Colorado, but the Marijuana Code of the consolidated county and city of Denver only allows licensed recreational marijuana cultivation and limited home cultivation for personal use.
In 2000, medical cannabis was legalized in Colorado, and in 2012, recreational cannabis was legalized for individuals aged 21 and above. However, local governments such as counties are authorized by Amendment 64 to establish their particular cannabis regulations.
According to information from the county and city government, residents of Denver aged 21 and older are permitted to grow cannabis plants at home, indoors, and for personal use only. They are limited to cultivating only six plants, of which only three are mature and flowering. Even if several individuals of qualified age live in the same residence, the maximum number of plants that can be grown there is 12. The individual cultivator is not allowed to sell homegrown cannabis and is responsible for ensuring that it is not accessible to minors and pets.
According to the Marijuana Laws, Rules, and Regulations of Denver, the issuance of new licenses for medical marijuana cultivation was stopped in 2016. For recreational marijuana cultivation, a license is required from the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) and then through Denver’s Online Permitting and Licensing Center. According to Denver’s marijuana licensing rules, up to July 1, 2027, only applications where at least 51% of ownership is held by one or more social equity applicants are eligible to apply for a retail marijuana cultivation license.
The following are the eligibility criteria that social equity applicants must meet:
Must be a resident of Colorado
Must not have owned a marijuana license that was eventually revoked by the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses or Colorado (MED)
Must prove one of the following:
Has lived for a minimum of 15 years between 1980 to 2010 in a census tract designated opportunity zone by the Denver Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) or a census tract designated by the Colorado MED as a disproportionately impacted area
Has a child, spouse, parent, sibling, legal guardian, or minor in their guardianship who has been arrested or convicted due to a marijuana-related offense, or had a marijuana investigation resulting in civil asset forfeiture
Has a household income for the preceding year that is 50% or less of the state median income based on the number of people in the household
Those who meet the above criteria must file the appropriate Finding of Suitability Application and then apply for a recreational marijuana cultivation business license with the Colorado MED. Only after acquiring the state license can they apply for the Denver license.
To apply with the Colorado MED, applicants must send the downloaded and completed business application form, other requirements including proof of a minimum of two-year state residency, and the fees by check. There is a retail marijuana cultivation facility license application fee of $5,000 and a license fee of $1,830. The total must be split into a check of $4,330 payable to the MED and a check of $2,500 payable to the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses. All these must be mailed to the:
Marijuana Enforcement Division
1697 Cole Blvd., Suite 200, Lakewood, CO 80401
ATTN: Business Licensing
A licensed recreational marijuana cultivation facility in Denver must do all its planting, growing, harvesting, drying, trimming, and storage within a fully enclosed building with restricted access. It should be more than 1,000 feet from any school or residential zoning district. The location of the facility must comply with all Denver zoning regulations.
All marijuana business license holders in Denver, including recreational marijuana cultivation facility licensees, are required to comply with the following general requirements:
Follow the Colorado Marijuana Code provisions, except when local rules are stricter
Undergo premises inspections and acquire all necessary local permits, such as zoning, right-of-way, building, and fire permits, among others
Provide officials with all records upon request
Undergo a criminal background check done by either the Colorado MED or the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses
Provide a social impact plan
Yes, it is legal to manufacture cannabis in Denver County according to Colorado’s Amendment 64 and Denver’s Marijuana Code.
Denver’s Code prohibits home growers from extracting marijuana concentrate from the plants. To operate a medical marijuana products manufacturer facility or a recreational marijuana products manufacturer facility, licenses from the Colorado MED and the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses are required.
For both types of licenses, however, the only applications eligible up to July 1, 2027, are those wherein not less than 51% are owned by one or more social equity applicants. The requirements to apply for social equity eligibility are the same as those for recreational marijuana cultivation license applicants.
They must also first apply with the Colorado MED for a medical marijuana product manufacturer facility license or a recreational marijuana product manufacturer facility license before they can apply for the corresponding Denver licenses. The application process is similar to that for the recreational marijuana cultivation license using the appropriate application form. The fees for the recreational marijuana product manufacturer facility license application are also the same. However, for the medical marijuana product manufacturer facility license application, there is an application fee of $1,000 and a license fee of $1,830. The total must be in a check payable to the Colorado MED.
A licensed medical or recreational marijuana products manufacturer facility in Denver must comply with all the general requirements for all other marijuana businesses. In addition, they must comply with all requirements of Chapter 23 of Denver’s Code of Ordinances covering food and food handlers.
In compliance with Colorado’s Amendment 64, all licensed medical or recreational marijuana product manufacturers must use opaque, resealable, child-safe packaging for all their products. These must provide safe storage for consumers aged 21 and older and patients.
Yes, it is legal to sell cannabis by retail in Denver County as stipulated by Amendment 64 of the State of Colorado and the Marijuana Code of Denver. According to the 2022 Marijuana Annual Report of Denver, the first time recreational cannabis was sold in the United States was on January 1, 2014, in Denver.
There are two types of licenses for this, both requiring application with and approval from the Colorado MED and the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses:
A recreational retail marijuana store license
A recreational retail marijuana hospitality and sales business license
Up to July 1, 2027, both licenses are open only to applications with ownership of at least 51% from one or more social equity applicants. They must undergo the same procedures as the applicants for cultivator and manufacturer licenses in seeking a Finding of Suitability, applying for a Colorado MED license, and then a Denver license.
Both licenses require a $5,000 application fee and a $2,440 license fee. This must be split into a $4,940 check payable to the Colorado MED and a $2,500 check payable to the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses. Both licensed facilities must comply with all the general requirements for Denver cannabis businesses.
The recreational marijuana hospitality and sales business license allows only limited retail sales of recreational marijuana to adults aged 21 and older, and on-site consumption of the cannabis they purchased there. It is only allowed to sell recreational marijuana. Individuals below the age of 21 are not allowed entry even if they are medical marijuana cardholders. Customers are prohibited from bringing in their own cannabis.
Each individual customer has the following purchasing limits per day:
One-half gram of cannabis concentrate
2 grams of cannabis flowers
20 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content in cannabis products, at 10 milligrams of THC per serving
All products to be sold must follow the packaging and labeling requirements of the Colorado MED. This must include the amount and potency of THC and cannabidiol (CBD) in the product. Other product information must be provided when requested.
Smoking and vaping of cannabis are allowed indoors in the licensed facility. Consumption of edible cannabis and other cannabis products apart from those that are smoked or vaped is allowed both indoors and outdoors within the licensed premises. However, alcohol and tobacco are prohibited. The facility must implement an approved odor control plan and health and sanitation plan.
Operating hours are only allowed from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. The location must be in an approved zoning district and all local regulations must be complied with. It must be more than 1,000 feet away from:
A licensed childcare establishment
A private or public school, from preschool to high school
A licensed alcohol or drug treatment establishment
A public pool or recreation center
Another licensed marijuana recreational marijuana hospitality and sales business facility
A licensed recreational marijuana hospitality and sales business cannot share premises with a licensed recreational marijuana store or licensed liquor store. It must have its own address and its own entrances and exits that do not connect with any other establishment. If it shares a wall with another establishment, any windows on that wall must be covered. All cannabis products and consumption must not be visible from outside the registered premises. Even any outdoor consumption area must be shielded by a high opaque barrier.
According to Denver’s Marijuana Code, a licensed recreational retail marijuana store may sell both medical and recreational cannabis to consumers aged 21 and older and patients and caregivers who hold medical marijuana cards. They are allowed to sell all types of medical cannabis allowed under Colorado’s Amendment 64, including edible cannabis, concentrates, resins, salts, tinctures, cannabis for smoking or vaping, topicals, and others.
Each individual consumer aged 21 and older is allowed to purchase in one or several transactions within one day a total of one ounce of cannabis, or 8 grams of cannabis concentrate, or cannabis products with 800 milligrams of THC.
A patient or caregiver with a medical marijuana card is allowed to buy within one day, in one or several transactions, a total of 2 ounces of medical cannabis, or 8 grams of marijuana concentrate, or 20,000 milligrams of THC contained in cannabis products.
The licensed recreational retail marijuana store is only allowed to operate from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. daily. It must be more than 1,000 feet away from a school, childcare facility, drug or alcohol treatment facility, or another licensed recreational retail marijuana store. It must comply with all local zoning regulations.
Curbside pickup, drive-up, and walk-up services are allowed only if compliant with all requirements related to zoning, transportation, infrastructure, building codes, fire codes, and public health regulations. The licensed recreational retail marijuana store must also comply with additional security, safety, and signage requirements from both the Colorado MED and the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses.
The licensed retail store must also have a locked refrigerator and freezer fixed to the building for the storage of cannabis products that need refrigeration or have to be kept frozen. Other cannabis goods and cash must be kept in a vault or a securely locked room.
A public hearing is required before a recreational retail marijuana store license or a recreational retail marijuana hospitality and sales business license can be issued.
Yes, it is legal to deliver cannabis purchased by consumers aged 21 and older or patients and caregivers with medical marijuana cards from licensed recreational retail marijuana stores in Denver County according to Colorado State’s Amendment 64 and the Denver Marijuana Code. These can only be delivered to the qualified purchaser’s residence. If they are currently staying in a hotel, delivery there is permitted provided the hotel allows it. Delivery to public places like restaurants and parks is prohibited.
Delivery can only be done by a medical marijuana transporter or recreational marijuana transporter licensed by the Colorado MED and through the Denver Online Permitting and Licensing Center.
Both licenses are only open to applications with a minimum of 51% ownership by one or more social equity applicants up to July 1, 2027. They will undergo the same process as the cultivator, manufacturer, retail store, and hospitality and sales applicants in acquiring their Finding of Suitability, Colorado MED license, and Denver license.
Both licenses require a $1,000 application fee and a $5,368 license fee. However, the applicant for the medical marijuana transporter license must pay the total to the Colorado MED. On the other hand, the applicant for the recreational marijuana transporter license must split the payment into a $5,868 check payable to the Colorado MED and a $500 check payable to the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses. Both licensees are also required to be compliant with all the Denver cannabis business general requirements.
Licensees with licensed premises are allowed to store cannabis before delivery. They are not allowed to store opened packages of cannabis, open sealed packages, or repack cannabis.
Licensees who only have operating licenses without premises are not allowed to store cannabis.
Residents of Denver County have to follow Colorado State procedures to acquire a medical marijuana card. First, they must be listed in the online Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry. To be eligible, they must undergo a medical examination by a registered healthcare provider to diagnose if they have any of the qualifying medical conditions, as follows:
● Any illness that requires an opioid prescription
● Persistent muscle spasms
● Autism Spectrum Disorder
● HIV or AIDS
● Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
● Severe nausea
● Severe pain
Once diagnosed, the proper certification will be filed by the healthcare provider in the online registry. Patients who are minors need two healthcare providers to certify them.
The patient must complete the application online by submitting a valid Colorado government ID and social security number. If a caregiver is needed, this must be included in the application. Patients who are minors need an adult caregiver to purchase medical cannabis on their behalf.
The application fee is $29.50. Payment is not necessary for those who submit documentary proof that their income is equal to or less than 185% of the federal poverty level.
Processing of the application can take one to three working days. The approved medical marijuana card will be made available on the online registry for the patient to download and print. The card is only valid in Colorado State.
Patients and caregivers with no internet access may apply through the mail. They must download and print the application form for minors or for adults. Once filled out, they must send this along with other requirements and the application fee in a check made out to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. All these must be mailed to:
4300 Cherry Creek Dr. S. Denver, CO
Mailed applications take longer to process, taking about six to eight weeks. The approved medical marijuana card will be mailed back. The patient and caregiver will not have access to the online registry.
Inquiries may be addressed to the following:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
4300 Cherry Creek Dr. S. Denver, CO
In addition to the usual Denver sales tax, the Denver Marijuana Code imposed a special retail marijuana sales tax of 3.5% of the purchase price for recreational marijuana and recreational products sold by a licensed recreational marijuana store to consumers. On October 1, 2018, an additional 2% of the purchase price was added. This was intended for affordable housing funds as a contribution to the Affordable Housing Property Tax and Other Local Revenue Fund.
The Denver Marijuana Code authorizes the subsequent increase of this tax rate up to a maximum of 15% of the purchase price of recreational marijuana and marijuana products. The purpose of the special sales tax on retail marijuana is to fund the following:
The marijuana industry regulation and licensing program
Marijuana law enforcement
Public health and education programs to minimize negative associations with marijuana
Programs for the prevention of illegal distribution of marijuana among minors
Local community operating expenses and facilities’ improvement
The 2022 Marijuana Annual Report of Denver states that as of 2022, the total tax rate for recreational retail marijuana was 26.41%. This consisted of a 4.81% Denver standard sales tax, 5.5% Denver special sales tax on retail marijuana, 15% Colorado special sales tax on retail marijuana, and 1.10% for other local taxes.
For medical marijuana, as of 2022, the total tax rate was 8.81%. This consisted of the Denver standard sales tax of 4.81%, the Colorado standard sales tax of 2.9%, and 1.10% for other local taxes.
From the 4.81% Denver standard sales tax, the allocation is as follows:
City general fund: 3.5%
Mental health: 0.25%
Denver Preschool Fund: 0.15%
College affordability: 0.08%
Healthy food access: 0.08%
In 2021, Denver accrued $189.2 million in medical marijuana sales and $499.5 million in recreational retail marijuana sales. This generated total revenues for Denver of $72.5 million. For 2022, the projected total revenues were $85.7 million.
The first recreational cannabis retail sale in Denver was in 2014 but medical cannabis was legal since 2000.
According to data from the Denver Police Department on the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer page, in 1999, there were 3,368 arrests for marijuana offenses, of which 3,346 were for marijuana possession, and 22 were for marijuana manufacturing or sales. This decreased to 60 arrests for marijuana offenses in 2021, of which 28 were for marijuana possession, and 32 were for marijuana manufacturing or sales.
There were 4,132 DUI arrests in 1999. This decreased to 769 DUI arrests in 2021.