Pot shops in Denver will have to close five hours earlier than state law allows. At the same time, medical marijuana dispensaries that want to sell recreational pot won’t have to put up physical barriers to separate the inventory.
New Regulations and Sales Tax
These are among the rules that will be imposed by the City of Denver once the retail pot industry arrives in Colorado early next year. The Denver City Council voted on Aug. 26 to establish new regulations and licensing requirements, along with a proposed sales tax.
Denver has about 200 medical marijuana dispensaries and is the largest city in the state to accept recreational shops once they arrive. The city has been busy building a layer of regulations on top of the state rules that will govern the industry.
“We’ve done a good job here,” City Council member Chris Nevitt said.
The proposed tax rate was set at 3.5 percent, less than the 5 percent Denver Mayor Michael Hancock wanted. But it would be possible to raise it as high as 15 percent with no public vote. The tax should bring in $3.4 million annually, money that would cover marijuana enforcement, regulation and education.
“This will create the opportunity to deal with some of those social costs that will come as a result of an expanded presence of marijuana in Denver,” said City Council member Debbie Ortega.
Denver Marijuana Sales Requirements
As part of its vote in August, the council laid out the licensing requirements for pot providers, who should be opening their doors in January. The rules face another council vote in September. Here are some of the most important decisions:
- Operating hours for pot shops in Denver will be from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., even though state law allows them to stay open until midnight.
- Medical weed dispensaries will get a head start. For the first two years of the program, only established dispensaries will be allowed to convert to retail pot stores, with mandatory public hearings.
- Medical dispensaries that decide to sell to recreational customers won’t have to separate inventory with a physical barrier, as was considered in a previous version.
- Converting a dispensary will require a public hearing. But it will be less strict than the type of hearing held for a liquor license, where the focus is on whether neighborhoods need or want a liquor license issued.
Some city leaders worried that neighbors wouldn’t have enough input before pot shops were allowed to open. Council Member Paul Lopez said the protections included for residents should ease those concerns.
“This will give neighborhoods a voice and will keep them at the table and not on the menu,” he said.