Marijuana Laws, Rules, and Regulations

This page provides an overview of Denver's marijuana laws, rules, and regulations, information about current marijuana policy development, and a history of marijuana policy in Denver.  

Any form of business or commerce involving marijuana in Denver requires a license or  permit. There are several medical and retail marijuana business licenses. Each type has different privileges, requirements, and rules. Businesses that do not follow the rules could be fined, face disciplinary action, or lose their license.

What medical or retail marijuana licenses and permits does the city issue?

The city issues these new medical or retail marijuana business licenses or permits:   

  • Medical marijuana delivery permit 
  • Medical marijuana products manufacturer license 
  • Medical marijuana testing facility license 
  • Medical marijuana transporter license 
  • Medical marijuana off-premises storage facility permit
  • Marijuana research and development license 
  • Retail marijuana store license 
  • Retail marijuana delivery permit 
  • Retail marijuana cultivation facility license 
  • Retail marijuana products manufacturer license
  • Retail marijuana testing facility license 
  • Retail marijuana transporter license 
  • Retail marijuana off-premises storage facility permit 

The city no longer issues new business licenses for:   

  • Medical marijuana stores
  • Medical marijuana cultivation facilities

Visit the Medical and Retail Marijuana Licenses and Permits webpage to learn more about how to apply for a marijuana license or permit. 

Where can I find laws, rules, and regulations applicable to marijuana businesses in Denver?

Denver laws, rules, and regulations 

Colorado laws, rules, and regulations 

  

Marijuana policy in progress

The Department of Excise and Licenses and Office of Marijuana Policy strive to keep stakeholders apprised of all ongoing policy development and opportunities for public input. Sign up for the marijuana information bulletin to be notified of policy updates. Virtual, public marijuana-related meetings held by the Department are recorded and can be viewed on the City and County of Denver’s marijuana public meetings YouTube channel.

2021 marijuana rulemaking

In June 2021, the Department of Excise and Licenses convened a Marijuana Rulemaking Work Group. It provided input on agency rules related to drive-up and walk-up windows at marijuana stores and secure storage of marijuana at marijuana stores and hospitality and sales businesses. Learn more about the scope of the work group in the work group scope and call for applications. 

Public input

  • Work group members and members of the public can submit written comments to marijuanainfo@denvergov.org until the date of the final rulemaking hearing.

Final rules

  

History of marijuana policy in Denver

A timeline: marijuana legalization and highlights in Denver 

2000

  • Colorado voters approved Amendment 20, legalizing medical marijuana.

2005

  • Denver voters approved an initiated ordinance to decriminalize possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana. The initiative did not affect state law.

2007

  • Denver voters approved an initiated ordinance making the enforcement of marijuana laws against private use and possession by adults the city’s “lowest law enforcement priority.”

2010

  • The Colorado General Assembly passed House Bill 10-1284, creating the Colorado Medical Marijuana Code.

2011

  • Denver City Council passed Council Bill 10-1003, adopting licensing procedures for medical marijuana centers, infused product manufacturers, and optional premises cultivations.

2012

  • Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 legalizing retail marijuana for adult use and directing the state to establish a regulatory structure for retail marijuana. 

2013

  • The Colorado General Assembly passed House Bill 13-1317, creating the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code.
  • Denver City Council passed Council Bill 13-0570, adopting retail marijuana licensing requirements and procedures.

2014

  • Retail marijuana sales began in Denver on Jan. 1, 2014.
  • Mayor Michael Hancock established the Denver Office of Marijuana Policy to recommend, administer and implement policies; oversee and coordinate city agencies; and act as a liaison between Denver and other local, state and federal officials, agencies, and stakeholders.

2015

  • Denver hosted the world’s first Marijuana Management Symposium to serve as a valuable resource for other cities preparing to regulate legalized marijuana. 

2016

  • The Office of Marijuana Policy merged with the Department of Excise and Licenses.
  • Denver City Council passed Council Bill 19-0291 capping the number of licensed locations for marijuana cultivation and sales, adopting new procedures for the issuance of retail marijuana cultivation and sales licenses, and prohibiting the issuance of new medical marijuana cultivation and sales licenses.
  • Voters approved a citizen-initiated ordinance authorizing the Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program.
  • The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment launched the Cannabis Sustainability Work Group, an interdisciplinary collaborative sustainability work group that provides sector-specific sustainability resources and guidance the Denver cannabis industry.

2017

  • The Department of Excise and Licenses adopted rules governing marijuana designated consumption areas.
  • The Denver Department of Public Health and Environment released its first Cannabis Environmental Best Management Practices Guide (updated in 2020), providing cannabis cultivators with guidance on energy and water use reduction, waste minimization, and pest control.

2018

  • At the 86th annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Boston, Mayor Michael Hancock met with the members of the first-of-its-kind government-led coalition to establish a national framework to proactively prepare governments for implementation of legalized marijuana. The coalition signed a resolution for urging federal support for state and local government regulations of cannabis.
  • Mayor Hancock announced the Turn Over a New Leaf program, a citywide effort to expunge marijuana convictions for conduct that is now legal. 

2019

  • The Turn Over a New Leaf report was released, providing an overview of the program’s structure, costs, and results after the first six months. The report also identifies the unique legal barriers that limit the success of expungement and record-sealing programs of this type.
  • Denver City Council passed Council Bill 19-0024, repealing the sunset date of the Cannabis Consumption Pilot program.

2020

  • The Denver Cannabis Business Employment and Opportunity Study report was released. It presents the results of a study that examined diversity and opportunity in Denver's cannabis industry. The report explores the need to reduce barriers to entry and promote equity in the cannabis industry.
  • The Department of Excise and Licenses completed final determinations on all licenses pending on May 1, 2016, and was able to calculate the cap on store and cultivation locations.
  • Denver City Council passed Council Bill 20-0261, amending the date of the lottery for store and cultivation licenses to 2021.
  • Denver City Council passed Council Bill 20-0262, authorizing medical marijuana research and development facility licenses. 
  • The Department of Excise and Licenses convened the Marijuana Licensing Work Group to gather stakeholder input on the adoption of new marijuana delivery permits and marijuana hospitality licenses and the development of a marijuana social equity program. The group met five times throughout 2020. Video recordings of the meetings are available on Denver’s marijuana public meetings YouTube channel.

2021

  • Denver City Council passed a series of bills making comprehensive updates to the city's marijuana code.
  • Council Bill 21-0216 combined the medical and retail marijuana codes into Chapter 6, Article 5; eliminated the cap on store and cultivation locations and eliminated the lottery system for distributing those licenses; adopted a marijuana delivery permitting program; adopted a social equity framework for marijuana licensing; and made other updates to the marijuana code. 
  • Council Bill 21-0217 adopted a marijuana hospitality licensing program.
  • Council Bill 21-0466 repealed the Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program created by a citizen-initiated ordinance in 2016.