DENVER—Medical marijuana dispensary owners lined up before 7:30 a.m. Monday to apply for operating licenses.
The application includes a background check with fingerprinting. Owners pay a $2,000 application fee, the cost of the background checks and a $3,000 annual license fee, and must not have been convicted of a felony or served a felony sentence in the last five years. If the application is denied, the $3,000 license fee will be refunded.
Denver’s office of excise and licenses said 20 of the 26 applications Monday were accepted for processing, with the other six lacking the required paperwork. Penny May, the office’s director, said as of a week ago, 477 sales tax licenses had been issued to medical marijuana dispensaries in Denver.
Anyone who manages or owns at least a 10 percent share of a dispensary must apply for the license in accordance with a City Council ordinance passed last month. All medical marijuana dispensaries in Denver must submit applications by March 1 to continue operating legally.
Olga Skuratovich, who owns the Metro Cannabis dispensary, said she thinks the fees are a little high. For comparison, it costs about $3,000 to $4,000 to obtain an alcohol license in Denver.
“I think a lot of people who are just starting out and who don’t have really a lot of financial freedom are not going to be able to be in this business because of the cost,” she said.
According to the ordinance, only those dispensaries that have been operating since before Dec. 15 and apply for a license by March 1 will be allowed to operate in a residential area or within a 1,000-foot vicinity of a school, child care establishment or other medical marijuana dispensary.
The ordinance also sets minimum requirements for security at the dispensaries and requires a floor plan to comply with other recent regulations.
“The regulations change daily, really, so you never know what to expect,” Skuratovich said.
By SAMANTHA ABERNETHY