Nearly one year after passing historic legislation to approve marijuana for recreational use, the state of Colorado is now accepting applications from individuals seeking to open a legal point of sale for the drug.
Our Colorado marijuana lawyers know that while Washington state passed a similar measure during the same November 2012 election, we are the first to begin fully implementing the law.
The green light on applications comes just weeks after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced his office would not seek to crack down on legal marijuana operations in states where it was both legal and well-regulated.
Still, being the first is never without its challenges. For an example, just look to California, which was the first state in the country to pass legislation legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. An overall lack of firm, central regulation on cultivation and distribution has made the state a prime target for both local backlash in certain areas and federal raids, as marijuana remains a Schedule I narcotic.
Just in the last two years, thousands of marijuana dispensaries across California have been forced to shutter their doors. Landlords have faced civil forfeiture action and some dispensary owners have even been criminally prosecuted – even when they were acting strictly within the confines of both state and local law.
All of that was simply for the sale of marijuana as medicine. Marijuana for recreation is even more controversial, and being the first to delve into it, would-be shop owners in Colorado should fully anticipate at least some level of legal wrangling. The best way to minimize the potential risk – and cost – would be to consult with an experienced marijuana dispensary lawyer. Doing this during the application process may even serve to improve your chances of approval, as display of a strong business model that is firmly in line with all state and local laws and regulations will be important to those reviewing the applications.
Applicants in Colorado are reporting to the Marijuana Enforcement division offices in downtown Denver. Three years ago, when the state first began accepting applications for medical marijuana business licenses, there were few limitations on how many could apply. This time around, the enforcement office is only accepting applications by appointment.
Two days into the process, the state had accepted nearly two dozen applications, according to The Denver Post. Those included not just applications for recreational storefront sales operations, but also for permission to cultivate the drug and sell products that were infused with it. In all, nearly 100 appointments have so far been scheduled, but it’s expected that number will grow significantly.
For the moment, the only people who can apply are those who already own a medical marijuana dispensary. That has created a significantly smaller pool of potential applications, though the process will be open to everyone by July 2014.
Those who have submitted their applications in October can expect to receive a formal decision no later than Jan. 1, 2014. That’s the first day the state will legally allow storefront recreational marijuana sales operations to open their doors.
The Colorado CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Colorado accepts first applications for recreational-marijuana stores, Oct. 1, 2013, By John Ingold, The Denver Post
More Blog Entries:
Latest Medical Marijuana Crackdown Victims: Parents and Children, Oct. 3, 2013, Colorado Marijuana Lawyer Blog