How to get a commercial grow or retail marijuana license in Colorado
ComplianceSeptember 12, 2022

How to get a commercial grow or retail marijuana license in Colorado

If you engage in the business of cultivation, dispensing, transferring, transporting, manufacture, sales, or testing medical marijuana or retail marijuana products, you must be properly licensed according to Colorado law.

The licensing and regulation of the medical and retail marijuana industries is overseen by the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) of the Colorado Department of Revenue. All applicants must demonstrate at least two years of Colorado residency when applying for a license, and pass criminal and credit background checks.

If you grow or retail marijuana, here are the prerequisites you should be aware of before applying for a commercial grow or retail marijuana license in Colorado.

Look into local authority licensing first

Colorado's Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) works closely with local jurisdictions in the licensing and regulation of marijuana businesses. As such, you may want to begin your local jurisdiction’s marijuana license application process at the same time as the Colorado state marijuana business license process.

First, confirm that your local authority permits medical and/or retail marijuana businesses to operate in their jurisdiction. MED will not process a marijuana business license application unless your local authority accepts new medical and/or marijuana license applications. Some municipalities may only allow certain types of marijuana business activities, such as testing, sales, cultivation, delivery, etc.

Keep in mind that local rules on retail marijuana licensing may be stricter than state rules.

How do I get a city marijuana business license?

The process of obtaining a Colorado marijuana business license varies by city, but may involve the following steps:

  • Register with the city or municipality
  • An intake meeting with local licensing staff
  • A background check*
  • Zoning approval
  • A city inspection
  • Obtain a state Marijuana Enforcement Division license
  • Obtain a city license marijuana license

Your business is prohibited from having marijuana products on-site or from growing plants until you have obtained both a city and state license.

*Note: For confidentiality reasons, the state's background check approval cannot be used for city review and approval. Also, the city may have stricter standards for background check reviews than the state MED does.

How do I get a Colorado MED-regulated marijuana business license?

To obtain a Colorado state-level marijuana license your business must complete a MED Regulated Marijuana Business License Application, Finding of Suitability application, personal background check, and pay state and local fees.

Some of the requirements for the initial application may include the following:

  • A copy of the local license application for a regulated marijuana business
  • Certificate of Good Standing from the jurisdiction in which your business entity was formed (must be one of the states of the United States, territories of the United States, District of Columbia, or another country that authorizes the sale of marijuana)
  • Registered agent: If the applicant is an entity, the identity and physical address of its registered agent in the state of Colorado
  • Organizational and corporate governance documents
  • Organizational chart (including the identity and ownership percentage of all chief business officers)
  • Fingerprints
  • Facility diagrams
  • Financial statements
  • Tax documents

What are the types of retail and medical marijuana licenses in Colorado?

The following retail and medical marijuana license types are listed on the MED Regulated Marijuana Business License application.

  • Retail Marijuana Store
  • Retail Marijuana Cultivation Facility
  • Retail Marijuana Testing Facility
  • Retail Marijuana Business Operator
  • Retail Marijuana Transporter
  • Retail Marijuana Transporter No Premises
  • Retail Marijuana Products Manufacturer
  • Medical Marijuana Store
  • Medical Marijuana Products Manufacturer
  • Medical Marijuana Testing Facility
  • Medical Marijuana Business Operator
  • Medical Marijuana Transporter
  • Medical Marijuana Transporter No Premises
  • Medical Marijuana Research & Development Facility
  • Medical Marijuana Cultivation Facility

How much does a Colorado marijuana license cost?

Colorado marijuana license and application fees vary based on the type of operation and whether it is an initial application or renewal:

  • Retail marijuana store (initial application): $5,000 (application), $2,440 (license)
  • Retail marijuana store (renewal): $300 (application), $1,830 (license)
  • Retail marijuana cultivation facility (Tier 1, initial application): $5,000 (application), $1,830 (license)
  • Medical marijuana cultivation facility (Class 1, initial application): $1,000 (application) $1,830 (license)

(Above fees are effective as of January 1, 2022.)

Renewal requirements for all licensees

Regulated marijuana business and owner licenses are valid for one year from the date of issuance. Medical marijuana transporters, retail marijuana transporters, and employee licenses are valid for two years from the date of issuance.

You must apply for the renewal of an existing license prior to the license’s expiration date.

What is social equity license qualification?

In recognition of the effects of decades of criminal enforcement of marijuana laws on communities of color, the Colorado MED has focused on outreach and engagement resources to support diversity initiatives in the cannabis industry.

One such initiative is the social equity license through the MED accelerator program. Social equity licensees receive technical compliance and/or capital assistance such as business services (sales and marketing), financial or capital support, and regulatory compliance support.

To qualify, check your eligibility with the MED and submit a Social Equity Program Application.

What are other requirements for a marijuana business in Colorado

Some of the other requirements for a marijuana business:

  • Register your LLC or corporation with Colorado Secretary of State
  • Register your trade name: If you don’t use your legal first and last name or the true name of your entity to conduct business in Colorado, you must file a trade name, aka a doing business as (DBA) name or assumed name. In Colorado, a trade name is filed with a Statement of Trade Name with the Secretary of State.
  • Employer identification number (EIN): Required if you do business as an LLC or corporation, or if you have employees. Aside from taxes, you need an EIN to open a business banking account or credit card.
  • State sales tax license: Obtain the appropriate state tax license – either a retail marijuana sales tax license or retail marijuana excise tax license – with the Colorado Taxation Division.
  • Labor and employment requirements: Any business in Colorado is required to meet specific state and federal labor and employment requirements, including reporting new hires, workers’ compensation insurance, etc.

CT Corporation can help

Outsourcing business registration and license research, applications, management, and renewals can help you take the pressure off internal resources. By working with a full-service management provider who specializes in the efficient processing of business licenses you can free up your time to focus on starting and growing your Colorado-based marijuana or cannabis cultivation or retail business while ensuring you keep up with changing compliance requirements.

For more information on CT Corporation services and how we can streamline your business licensing, please contact us or call us at (844) 701-2064

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