Out of the thousands of medical marijuana dispensaries in our country, most of them had to get some kind of business license to operate a store front. It has been an issue at the local level with many towns and municipalities, particularly in the states of California and Colorado, handing out general business licenses. Some dispensaries have applied under agricultural licenses, health services, personal services, food services, and a whole host of other creative ways on their way to become legitimate. That is why the Department of Revenue had such a difficult time knowing how many medical marijuana dispensaries are open and operating.
On Wednesday in Denver, the Medical Marijuana Workgroup met and the first state medical-marijuana business license was awarded to Dr. J’s owner, Tom Sterlacci at the meeting. He owns the Denver dispensary that has been working for more than a year on the application process. The idea for the working sessions with regulators and dispensary owners came from Denver’s director of excise and licensing, Tom Downey. Besides handing out the first historic license, the Denver city Council gave those attending the meeting an update on a proposal that would allow dispensaries to transfer their licenses to the more appropriate medical marijuana state license, an idea that they are moving forward with.
The state issued 11 more licenses to businesses in Fort Collins, Littleton, Colorado Springs, Boulder, and a few additional licenses in Denver from the state Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division, a group working within the Colorado Department of Revenue. Another seven dispensaries have received letters letting them know they are likely to receive a license soon. The state has sent out letter to local governments for an additional 467 dispensaries and marijuana product manufacturers to make sure those businesses have local approval. It is the last step in the state-licensing process. The presentation of the first medical marijuana business license was met with a standing ovation. New license holder Sterlacci said of the historic event, “Now we’re not standing alone with the feds. We have the city and the state standing with us.” Colorado fought long and hard within and outside of the marijuana community to pass the most comprehensive regulations for medical cannabis in the nation and they are hoping all their rules and regulations will keep the federal government from raiding legitimate businesses in their state. The next Medical Marijuana Workgroup meeting is scheduled for December 14. Those seeking a license can attend and ask questions of the regulators.