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Marijuana Laws, Rules, and Regulations

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Marijuana 2020 Work Plan

Cannabis Licensing Policy Sequencing

Sequence Policy Preparation Legislation Implementation Effective
1 Phase 1
  • Set location caps
  • Align location lottery with applications (hold in 2021)
  • Adopt marijuana R&D license
Complete Complete Complete Q2
2 Phase 2
  • Align D.R.M.C. with state code
In Progress Q4 Q4 Q1 2021

Phase 3

  • Explore new hemp licenses
  • Explore new marijuana delivery license
  • Explore new marijuana hospitality licenses
In Progress  Q4  Q4 Q1 2021

Phase 4

  • Update location lottery
  • Release available new store/grow licenses for locations under the cap
2021  2021  2021  2021 

Cap and Lottery

In accordance with the Denver Revised Municipal Code (D.R.M.C.) section 6-203(b), the Director of EXL has set the following permanent caps for marijuana sales and cultivation locations: 

  • 220 marijuana sales locations
  • 299 marijuana cultivation locations
  • 451 cumulative cap for marijuana cultivation and sales locations*

*Because some businesses combine their sales and cultivation locations, City Council also adopted a cumulative cap to account for co-located sales and cultivation facilities. 

Pursuant to D.R.M.C. §§ 6-201 and 6-203(b), these numbers are based on the total number of active licensed marijuana cultivation and sales locations as of May 1, 2016, plus the number of approved new locations from applications that were received by May 1, 2016. The Director is setting the permanent cap for sales and cultivation locations following the resolution of the last pending application.

As a reminder, the caps above do not apply to retail or medical marijuana infused product manufacturing facilities, testing facilities, transporters, or cannabis consumption licenses (I-300). Similarly, the caps do not prevent holders of medical marijuana center and cultivation licenses from applying to add a retail marijuana store or cultivation license to their current existing location. The Department will continue to accept transfer of location applications for sales and cultivation facilities as long as a new location is not being created.

The ordinance establishing the caps on cultivation and sales locations also created an open application process for new store and cultivation locations. The open application process is to be held each calendar year after the cap is set.  On March 17, 2020, City Council approved an ordinance amending the date for the first open application process (or “lottery”) to begin in 2021.  This change was made to give Excise and Licenses time to explore new marijuana license types, including hospitality and delivery licenses. Additionally, prior to the first open application process, the City is using this time to develop a plan to promote social equity in the marijuana industry through more equitable access to licenses.

Note that the number of locations available under the cap is constantly changing as licenses expire, are surrendered, or revoked.  Therefore, the number of locations available under the cap will be determined at the time the lottery is announced.

Research and Development License

In 2017, the State of Colorado authorized local licensing authorities to issue marijuana research and development licenses (R&D). Marijuana research and development licenses permit the cultivation, possession, transfer, manufacture, and production of marijuana for limited research purposes. As a part of Denver’s 2020 Marijuana Workplan, EXL proposed an ordinance to create this new type of marijuana license. The bill (CB20-0262) passed at City Council on April 13, 2020 and the ordinance is now effective.

This new license will allow the City to preserve its reputation as a leader in the regulated cannabis industry and will foster innovation and entrepreneurship. It will also be an opportunity for the City to pilot its equity provisions and social impact plan under the forthcoming “Cannabis Equity and Social Justice” initiative. 

Stakeholder Feedback Session

EXL hosted a stakeholder feedback session on March 5, 2020 to discuss the work plan and give community members an opportunity to provide input on Phase 1 legislation.

Marijuana Equity & Social Justice

Denver is promoting inclusion for people and communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs as well as communities that are now being affected by the regulated marijuana industry.


Marijuana Licensing Work Group (MLWG)

The Denver Department of Excise and Licenses has formed a Marijuana Licensing Work Group (MLWG) to gather community input regarding the new marijuana licenses created by the State of Colorado in 2019, Denver’s Cannabis Equity Program, and the City’s 2020 Marijuana Workplan.

The link to view the Marijuana Licensing Work Group meetings, agenda and presentations will be found here at least one day prior to the date of each meeting, and the minutes will be available seven to ten days after.  Written comments can be sent to at any point throughout the process.

Meeting 1 - Thursday, May 14, 2020
From 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Meeting 2 - Thursday, May 28, 2020
From 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Meeting 3 - Thursday, June 11, 2020
From 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Meeting 4 - Thursday, June 25, 2020
From 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Meeting 5 - Tuesday, September 29, 2020
From 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.