And now, the landscape has been drastically altered.
The passage of Amendment 64, along with our regulated medical marijuana industry, makes Colorado the most cannabis friendly state in our nation’s history. Voters overwhelmingly approved retail operations similar to liquor stores, allowed to sell marijuana to any adult over the age of 21. Our phones haven’t stopped ringing all morning. For current and prospective clients, the questions all boil down to this one: what’s changed?
The short answer is, for the next year, very little. Placed on the Department of Revenue’s plate will be the arduous task of creating the regulatory framework for licensing, a process that was anything but expedient when it came to MMJ (although it has been suggested they will borrow heavily from existing code). They have two key deadlines:
- July 1st: promulgation of rules.
- October 1st: accepting applications.
Processing that application can take up to 90 days, at which point a license request must be resolved or the applicant can simply forward their paperwork to their locality, which has another 90 days to issue a license or denial. Add up the days and a worse case scenario for opening is April of 2014, just in time for one of the busiest months for a cannabis related business.
In the meantime, medical marijuana related businesses are projected for higher growth than has been seen in years. Interest in marijuana in general, as well as a decreased stigmatization, look to increase patient numbers - which are already trending up - amongst both the young and old. A blisteringly hot summer also forced many warehouses to make large investments in electrical and HVAC, which will increase harvest yields in the year to come. They are also well positioned for the future.
Amendment 64 provides several benefits to those with operating experience in the MMJ field. From “Section 5. Regulation of marijuana”:
(b) IN ORDER TO ENSURE THE MOST SECURE, RELIABLE, AND ACCOUNTABLE SYSTEM FOR THE PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION OF MARIJUANA AND MARIJUANA PRODUCTS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THIS SUBSECTION, IN ANY COMPETITIVE APPLICATION PROCESS THE DEPARTMENT SHALL HAVE AS A PRIMARY CONSIDERATION WHETHER AN APPLICANT:
(I) HAS PRIOR EXPERIENCE PRODUCING OR DISTRIBUTING MARIJUANA OR MARIJUANA PRODUCTS PURSUANT TO SECTION 14 OF THIS ARTICLE AND THE COLORADO MEDICAL MARIJUANA CODE IN THE LOCALITY IN WHICH THE APPLICANT SEEKS TO OPERATE A MARIJUANA ESTABLISHMENT; AND
(II) HAS, DURING THE EXPERIENCE DESCRIBED IN SUBPARAGRAPH (I), COMPLIED CONSISTENTLY WITH SECTION 14 OF THIS ARTICLE, THE PROVISIONS OF THE COLORADO MEDICAL MARIJUANA CODE AND CONFORMING REGULATIONS.
We can guarantee competition will be fierce in what looks to be one of the most sought after new business opportunities of the last decade. Having a leg up by currently operating a MMC and receiving that primary consideration can have huge implications for the success of a business. Additionally, new entrants to the market will pay up to $5,000 to apply, possibly more depending on implementation issues, while owners of MMC’s have their application fee capped at $500, a steep discount.
As always, the easiest way to move forward is with experienced professionals at your side, so call Denver Relief Consulting at 303.420.PLAN with additional questions, or find us at the National Marijuana Business Conference November 8th and 9th.