Colorado Marijuana Distribution License

Interested in starting a Cannabis business in Colorado?

Does Colorado Require a License to Distribute Marijuana and Marijuana Products?

Yes. It is illegal for anyone to engage in marijuana distribution in Colorado without obtaining the requisite license as required by House Bill 16-1211. Colorado refers to this license as a marijuana transporter license. Licensed marijuana transporter facilities are authorized to provide logistics, distribution, and temporary storage services for other marijuana businesses licensed by the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED). For instance, these facilities can transport marijuana from licensed marijuana cultivation facilities to marijuana products manufacturing facilities within the state.

Colorado has two separate marijuana transporter/distribution licenses. These are medical marijuana transporter license and retail marijuana transporter license. An entity with a medical marijuana transporter license can only distribute medical marijuana. Similarly, a retail marijuana transporter licensee is only authorized to distribute adult-use marijuana in Colorado.

However, adults 21 years and older can transport marijuana products in their vehicles for personal use, provided they stay within the state-approved limit without a marijuana transporter license. They can carry up to 1 ounce of marijuana products in their cars but must do so in a sealed box and store them in parts of the vehicle that are not easily accessible to anyone.

What Distribution Activities are Covered by Colorado Marijuana Distribution License?

Typically, a marijuana transporter license permits the holder to transport all medical and retail marijuana or marijuana-infused products between marijuana establishments within the state. In Colorado, a marijuana transporter license covers the following activities for regulated marijuana:

  • Transporting medical and recreational marijuana and marijuana-infused products between licensed premises
  • Transporting medical and recreational marijuana and marijuana-infused products between licensed premises and a pesticide manufacturer
  • Transporting medical and recreational marijuana and marijuana-infused products between licensed premises and a medical research facility
  • Transporting medical and recreational marijuana and marijuana-infused products between licensed premises and a permitted off-premises storage facility

A marijuana transporter takes responsibility for marijuana or marijuana products once it takes off from the originating licensed establishment until it delivers them to the destination establishment. In Colorado, marijuana transporters use a seed-to-sale tracking system developed by the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) to prepare shipping manifests and document every instance of transporting marijuana and marijuana products.

A Colorado marijuana transporter license also permits licensees to operate temporary storage facilities for marijuana and marijuana products on their licensed premises. However, licensed premises owned by a marijuana transporter must be located in a locality that allows recreational marijuana stores or marijuana dispensaries (as the case may be). Usually, licensed marijuana transporters use such premises as distribution spots for marijuana and marijuana-infused products. A marijuana storage facility must meet the level of security requirements needed to secure a marijuana transporter license.

Does Colorado Offer Transport-Only Distributor License?

No. The Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) only issues a marijuana transporter license that enables the holder to transport marijuana between marijuana establishments. It does not have or issue a business license that allows a marijuana establishment to transport or distribute its own medical or recreational marijuana or marijuana-infused products.

How to Get Marijuana Distribution License in Colorado

To apply for a marijuana transporter license in Colorado, an applicant interested should complete the MED-approved Regulated Business License Application Form and submit it to the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED). They can also apply online using the online application portal. However, new users are required to sign up to enable them to use the portal. Applicants who choose the online application option are not required to download the Regulated Business License Application Form. The MED provides a quick guide for applicants who would prefer to apply for marijuana licenses online.

The MED issues medical marijuana transporter licenses and retail (recreational) marijuana transporter licenses to qualified applicants. Hence, applicants must select the transporter license of their interest while filling out the application form. A marijuana transporter license applicant in Colorado needs to determine their suitability. To do this, the MED provides two separate application forms for finding suitability. These are:

  • The Marijuana Finding of Suitability Application - Owner Entity: This is for any entity that holds a minimum of 10% interest of the Regulated Marijuana Business owner's interest, such as:
    • An executive or qualified institutional investor with 30% or more of the Regulated Marijuana Business
    • Any affiliate or entity with authority to exercise control of the Regulated Marijuana Business
  • The Marijuana Finding of Suitability Application Form - Natural person): This form is required for any natural person who holds at least 10% interest of the Regulated Marijuana Business owner's interest. Such persons include managers, executive officers, or other individuals who can exercise control of the Regulated Marijuana Business.

A marijuana transporter license applicant must complete the appropriate finding of suitability form and submit it alongside the Regulated Business Application Form. Any entity submitting the owner entity suitability application must include with their submission a natural person suitability application.

Before submitting a marijuana transporter license application in Colorado, an applicant must have their fingerprints taken. Although the MED provides fingerprinting services, it is not always available. Consequently, the Division encourages applicants to the service of the MED-approved third-party fingerprint vendors for fingerprinting. Applicants must obtain receipts as evidence of having their fingerprints taken from such vendors and submit them with their applications to the MED. After this, applicants must pay the requisite fees via checks or money orders and attach the payment proof with their applications. Any fee due to the local jurisdictions where they intend to operate their facility must also be included in the applications but as a separate form of payment.

A marijuana transporter license applicant in Colorado must also meet specific state and federal employment and requirements as stipulated by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE). The CLDE equally provides an employer checklist that prospective marijuana license holders can use to ensure compliance with the Department’s laws and regulations. Similarly, a prospective marijuana transporter license holder in Colorado must obtain a state tax license suitable for their proposed marijuana transporter facility like every other regulated business in the state.

To submit their applications, applicants must pay the required fees and enclose the evidence of payment with completed application forms and supporting documentation, and submit via mail or in-person to/at:

Marijuana Enforcement Division

1697 Cole Blvd., Suite 200

Lakewood, CO 80401

The Lakewood office of the MED receives marijuana license applications between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday for in-person submissions.

Applicants can also mail their applications to the following MED regional offices:

  • Southern Regional Office \ Marijuana Enforcement Division \ P.O. Box 15128 \ Colorado Springs, CO 80935
    • Northern Regional Office \ Marijuana Enforcement Division \ 275 South Main Street, Suite 101 \ Longmont, CO 80501
  • Western Slope Regional Office \ Marijuana Enforcement Division \ 632 Market Street, Suite G3 \ Grand Junction, CO 81505

The MED has the right to approve or deny a submitted marijuana transporter license application between 45 and 90 days after receiving the application. Before applying for a marijuana transporter license in Colorado, prospective licensees should confirm that the local authorities in the jurisdictions they intend to operate permits marijuana businesses in their locality. The MED provides the public with a list of local authorities in Colorado that allow marijuana businesses in their jurisdiction. Typically, the Division will reject any marijuana license application for any business not located in a jurisdiction that permits the operation of a marijuana business.

How Much Does Marijuana Distribution License Cost in Colorado?

The Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) requires a marijuana transporter license applicant in Colorado to pay $1,000 as an application fee for either a medical or a retail marijuana distribution license. The actual licensing fee is $5,368 for either type of license. These fees totaling $6,368 are paid together to the state when applying for a medical marijuana transporter license. However, a retail marijuana distribution licensee must divide this total and pay $5,868 to the state while $500 goes to the local jurisdiction of the proposed facility.

To renew either a medical or a retail marijuana transporter license, a licensee will pay a $300 renewal application fee and another $5,368 license renewal fee. Other costs associated with marijuana transporter licensing in Colorado include:

  • Transporter off-premises storage permit - $2,648
  • Off-premises storage permit - $1,830

These fees were advised in the emergency rules adopted by the Colorado Department of Revenue (DOR) effective July 1, 2021.

The MED does not accept cash payments from applicants (for new licenses) and licensees (for license renewals). The acceptable means of payment are checks and money orders. All payments are payable to the Colorado Department of Revenue. Similarly, new license applicants or licensees seeking license renewals can pay the DOR all applicable fees via credit card authorization. The MED also allows applicants to make payments online via a Colorado Interactive Payment System. In such a situation, the MED will advise license applicants or those renewing their marijuana licenses of online payment link options via email as soon as they receive the applications or renewal requests. The MED does not process any marijuana license application or renewal unless it has received payment for such applications or requests.

Can Licensed Marijuana Distributors Also Get Other Cannabis Licenses in Colorado?

Yes. A licensed marijuana transporter in Colorado can get additional licenses to run other cannabis establishments in the state. However, the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) considers each marijuana license held by a person or entity as separate and distinct, whether the facilities are in a location or different places.

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Colorado Marijuana Distribution License