How to Qualify as a Social Equity Applicant

How to Qualify

Step 1.Research your eligibility 

  • To qualify as a social equity applicant, you must be a Colorado resident at the time of application. You cannot previously have owned a marijuana business license that was subject to revocation by the State Licensing Authority or by Denver Excise and Licenses. In addition, you must meet one of the following criteria:
    • Criteria 1: The applicant resided for at least 15 years between 1980 and 2010 in a census tract designated by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade as an Opportunity Zone or designated as a Disproportionate Impacted Area;
      • Use this mapping tool to determine if your address was in an Opportunity Zone or Disproportionate Impacted Area. (You must toggle on Opportunity Zones using the Layer list in the upper right corner.)
      • You could qualify using multiple addresses where you resided.
    • Criteria 2: 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; or
    • Criteria 3: The applicant’s household income in the year before application did not exceed 50% of the state median income as measured by the number of people who reside in the applicant’s household.
      • Look at the federal income tax return (IRS Form 1040) you filed with the IRS for last calendar year. If you are applying in 2022, you will need to look at your tax return for 2021.(If you have not yet filed your tax return for the previous year, you will need to wait until you have done so before applying.)If you are married filing separately, you need to use your tax return and your spouse’s tax return. Line 9 of Form 1040 reflects your total income. If filing individually, married filing jointly, head of household, or qualified widow/widower, this is your total household income. If you are married filing separately, add the total income on line 9 of your tax return to the total income on line 9 of your spouse’s tax return to determine your total household income.
      • Determine your household size. For the purpose of determining social equity eligibility, your household size includes the applicant, the applicant’s spouse (if applicable), and any dependents listed in the Dependents section of Form 1040.
      • Compare your total household income to the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey 2019 median income table. (The 2020 median income table is not available because of impacts of COVID-19 on the data collection. It will be updated when the 2021 median income table is released by the U.S. Census Bureau in the fall of 2022.)Select the row for the state where you resided the year before application. Select the column that reflects your household size. The dollar amount at the intersection of that row and column is 50% of the median income for that state and household size. Your total household income must fall below that dollar amount for you to qualify as a social equity applicant.
      • If you qualified for a marijuana business license as a social equity applicant using the income criteria in 2021 and you want to apply for another business license using the income criteria in 2022, you must wait until you can provide your tax return for 2021.
  • The applicant must hold at least 51% ownership of the marijuana business.
  • The state Marijuana Enforcement Division’s Social Equity website contains additional information about the criteria for qualifying as a social equity applicant. If you have questions about the criteria, contact the Marijuana Enforcement Division.

Step 2.Submit a state finding of suitability application 

  • Go to the state Marijuana Enforcement Division’s Applications and Forms website. If you do not hold an owner license, you need to submit a finding of suitability application to the state Marijuana Enforcement Division. The Marijuana Enforcement Division will use this application to verify your eligibility as a social equity applicant.
  • If you hold an owner license and want to qualify as a social equity applicant for a new license, contact the Marijuana Enforcement Division to learn how to have your eligibility verified.

Step 3.Apply for a state marijuana business license 

Step 4.Apply for a Denver marijuana business license  

  • To apply for a Denver marijuana business license as a social equity applicant, you need to provide a copy of your approved finding of suitability letter provided by the state Marijuana Enforcement Division. You also need to supply all supporting documentation that can be used to verify your eligibility as a social equity applicant. Applicants should submit documentation for all criteria under which they feel they could qualify. Your social equity eligibility will be verified upon each marijuana business license application. You will be required to submit proof of social equity eligibility each time you apply for a marijuana business license in the City and County of Denver.
    • To demonstrate the applicant’s place of residence between 1980 and 2010, the applicant can submit:
      • School records, rental or lease agreements, utility bills, mortgage statements, loan documents, bank records, tax returns, or other documents proving residency; or
      • An affirmation, under penalty of perjury, of the applicant’s residence and provide the name(s) and contact information for at least one individual who can verify the applicant’s place of residence during the relevant time period.
    • To demonstrate qualification related to a marijuana offense, the applicant can provide court or other documents demonstrating they or their family member’s arrest, conviction, or civil asset forfeiture, as well as affirmation of the familial relationship if qualifying under a family member’s marijuana offense.
    • To demonstrate the applicant’s household income in the year before application, the applicant must provide their federal income tax return (IRS Form 1040)for the previous year. For example, if the applicant applies for a license in 2022, they must submit their tax return reflecting their income in 2021. If the applicant is married filing separately, they must also provide their spouse’s tax return. If the applicant does not yet have their tax return for the previous year, the application could be delayed or denied until the tax return can be provided.