Frequently Asked Questions

Can an existing licensee qualify as a social equity applicant?

An existing licensee can apply for a new license as a social equity applicant, provided they obtain proof of social equity eligibility from the state Marijuana Enforcement Division. An existing licensee cannot qualify as a social equity applicant for their existing licenses. An existing licensee cannot qualify for waived and reduced fees for their existing licenses that were not obtained as a social equity applicant.

What are the eligibility criteria for a social equity applicant?

  • The applicant is a Colorado resident, and
  • The applicant has not been the beneficial owner of a license subject to administrative action issued by the State Licensing Authority or the Department of Excise and Licenses (local requirement) resulting in the revocation of a marijuana license, and
  • The applicant demonstrates at least one of the following:
  • The applicant has resided for at least 15 years between 1980 and 2010 in a census tract designated by the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) as an opportunity zone or a census tract designated as a disproportionate impacted area by the State Licensing Authority;
  • The applicant or the applicant’s parent, legal guardian, sibling, spouse, child, or minor in their guardianship was arrested for a marijuana offense, convicted of a marijuana offense, or was subject to civil asset forfeiture related to a marijuana investigation;
  • The applicant’s household income in the year before the application did not exceed 50% of the state median income as measured by the number of people who reside in the applicant’s household.  
  • A social equity applicant, alone or together with other social equity applicants, must own at least 51% of the license. More specific questions about the state’s definition of a social equity applicant should be directed to the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED).

How do I qualify as a social equity applicant?

To qualify with the City and County of Denver, applicants must obtain a social equity eligibility letter from the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division. Learn more about How to Qualify as a Social Equity Applicant.

What is the State Accelerator Program?

The State Accelerator Program allows individuals who might have faced barriers to entry in Colorado's retail (adult-use) regulated marijuana industry to own and operate a marijuana business license as part of an agreed-upon partnership with an existing marijuana business that has been endorsed by the MED as an “accelerator-endorsed licensee." An accelerator-endorsed licensee serves as the "host" in the accelerator program by providing capital and/or technical support to a social equity licensee and allowing the social equity licensee to operate as an accelerator store, accelerator manufacturer and accelerator cultivator on the same licensed premises or on a separate licensed premises provided by the cccelerator-endorsed licensee. For all rules pertaining to the accelerator program, see MED's Permanent Rules, and for more information on the program, visit MED’s Social Equity website.

Can social equity applicants sell their licenses?

Until the exclusivity period expires on July 1, 2027, licenses granted to social equity applicants under the social equity program must be majority-owned (at least 51%) by one or more social equity licensees. A social equity licensee can sell some or all of the ownership interest in their license as long as one or more social equity licensees holds at least 51% of the ownership interest in the license.