Marijuana Shops and Grow Facilities to Be Capped in Denver


A proposal setting caps and new regulations for the marijuana industry in Denver has been approved with the first reading set for April 11. Councilwoman Robin Kniech, who was responsible for the proposal, put forth amendments to the current regulations that aimed to find the middle ground between protecting both the community and current businesses. However, the proposal restricts new marijuana business in Denver, capping grow facilities and marijuana shops as well as new medical marijuana licenses. “What we have is a bill that has drastic new restrictions that will protect communities (and) that will for sure have some negative impact on business. But they are important because they protect communities,” explained Kniech.

Effects on Denver Marijuana Shops and Businesses

New legislature is putting a cap on Denver area cannabusiness. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)

All new grow facilities must be a minimum of 1,000 feet away from schools and residential areas. Currently they’re only allowed to be in industrial zones but there have been no specific requirements expounding on that until now. The amendment is estimated to reduce areas where new grow facilities can be introduced by 60-70%. Some believe this may be too restrictive. The main reason for these regulations is to control the smells that can emanate from growers.  Denver’s Department of Environmental Health is also looking to pass a separate bill that sets odor control rules, requiring grow facilities to use scrubbing technology. Currently marijuana stores need to be 1,000 feet away from schools, child care centers, drug treatment centers, and other marijuana shops. This will remain the same.

Details of the New Limitations

There will be a cap set on the amount of cultivation, grow houses, and marijuana shops allowed in the city. No new medical marijuana or grow licenses will be issued in the city, although retail licenses will be made available to dispensaries that are already in operation at a location. People will still be allowed to transfer any of their licenses to new owners. Beginning in 2017, the city will hold an annual lottery, making licenses that have been revoked or given up available to qualified applicants.

Pending Applications

Heightened limitations will impact prospective grow houses.

There are currently over 400 active grow facilities and marijuana shops across Denver. There are approximately 50 pending applications for new medical and retail locations that are currently included in the cap to protect investors, some of who have already spent millions of dollars on the new businesses. Some council members were not happy about including applicants in the caps. “I think there is a very powerful question about the pending applications,” admits Councilman Chris Herndon, who was one of the few who voted against the proposal. “I keep hearing about investments that people have made in businesses but the investment that people have made in the community where they live is a great investment as well.”

Council members will be discussing the regulations further, addressing all concerns. The following 2 weeks will determine the details of the final regulations.  A public hearing will be held on April 11th with a follow up reading on April 18th. If the proposal is approved on the 18th, the new regulations would be effective on May 1st.


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