‘Doobie’ Dare Talk About Retail Marijuana in Colorado?

IMPORTANT NOTE: While the state of Colorado has permitted the use, sale, and cultivation of marijuana, it is still very much unlawful under the federal laws of the United States, as well as the laws of most other states. Using, selling, and cultivating marijuana may still subject you to serious fines and criminal penalties.

This post is meant to be purely informational and should not be taken or relied on as legal advice.

Ever since Amendment 64 passed in Colorado allowing the recreational use and retail sale of marijuana, there has been a lot of hype over retail marijuana shops opening up throughout the state. One of the biggest news stories in Colorado, and probably throughout the country, on January 1, 2014 was about the massive amounts of people lined up around the block to get into the retail marijuana shops on opening day.

In the few months that it has been legalized, the sale of retail marijuana in Colorado has already generated millions of dollars in tax revenue for the state. This leads one to believe that the owners of the retail marijuana shops themselves are, in all likelihood, raking in the big bucks, as well. It makes sense, then, that people would be flocking to Colorado with high* hopes of striking it rich in the marijuana industry. If you are one of those aspiring “ganjapreneurs” (not my term), then you will want to read on.

The sale of retail marijuana in Colorado is legal, but that does not mean it is easy to start up a retail or medical marijuana shop. Here are just a few of the requirements for applying for and obtaining a license to start a business in retail marijuana in Colorado:

  1. Under the current law, only a person with a license to operate a medical marijuana business can apply for a retail marijuana license. This requirement is supposed to go away on July 1, 2014. Those of you waiting until then to apply can file a Notice of Intent to apply prior to July 1, 2014, which may expedite your application.
  2. You have to be at least 21 years old as of the date of application.
  3. The license application requires information on the location of the retail marijuana shop. So you will have to already have found a location and have a lease in place (contingent upon approval of the application, I hope!) prior to applying.
  4. You must be a resident of Colorado for at least two years prior to the date of the application. So, sorry all you people moving here from other states. You’re gonna have to wait a while.
  5. You cannot have a criminal record that would indicate that you are “not of good moral character”. This means that you cannot have committed any crimes of “moral turpitude”. Moral turpitude means…well…nobody really knows what exactly it means. It kind of means crimes that are morally wrong (as opposed to those that are morally right…?), or inherently evil. Wikipedia says that moral turpitude refers to “conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals.” Federal immigration laws, which use the same standard, call it “conduct that shocks the public conscience as being inherently base, vile, or depraved, contrary to the rules of morality and the duties owed between man and man, either one’s fellow man or society in general.” Some crimes that will most likely fall under the moral turpitude standard are murder, rape, kidnapping, theft, fraud, assault. But the standard is very subjective and could include a multitude of crimes.
  6. Finally, it is expensive. Application and licensing fees for the state of Colorado range from $250 to $18,000 depending on the type of medical or retail marijuana license you have or want. Those fees will be on top of the fees for the city and county that you are looking to be in, not to mention all of the other expenses that go along with starting a retail or medical marijuana shop.

These are just some of the requirements for obtaining a license for retail marijuana in Colorado. And these are only the state’s requirements. The cities and counties of Colorado have the ability to make their own restrictions and assess their own fees. Some of them have banned retail and medical marijuana businesses altogether, and some have put in tighter restrictions on top of those of the state.

Getting into the business of retail marijuana in Colorado is no easy feat. But, if you have the drive, energy, and resources to do so, it may prove to be very well worth it in the end.

Denver, Colorado business attorney Aiden Durham can provide guidance with starting a new business. Contact Aiden at (720) 379-3425 or aiden@180lawco.com.

*pun intended