It’s been exactly six months since legal retail marijuana sales began in Colorado, and today is the first day that retail marijuana business licenses are open to all applicants — not just those who previously held medical marijuana licenses.
Click here for an application checklist and the required application forms. Please note that these licenses would not go into effect until October 1, 2014, and businesses would still require local approval.
In these brief six months, the Centennial State has already experienced overwhelmingly positive results! There has been a 10.1% decrease in overall crime from 2013. As of May, the state had collected $10.9 million in taxes from adult use stores alone. The Department of Revenue has licensed nearly 600 retail marijuana businesses — including dispensaries, cultivators, and infused products manufacturers — and 10,043 individuals to work in the industry.
Collateral sectors are also feeling the love, especially in the tourism industry. Colorado ski resorts enjoyed a record-breaking season, with 12.6 million visitors, and 14 million Denver tourists spent an all-time high of $4 billion. More families and businesses are also moving to the Mile High City. In 2013, Denver attracted more sales of single-family homes last year than during the housing boom, and is ranked among the top commercial real estate markets to watch.
State regulators and state police recently performed sting operations on 20 different marijuana stores in the Denver and Pueblo areas to determine compliance with state law, reports 9 News. The conclusion they reached was undisputed: None of the stores were breaking the law by selling marijuana to people under the age of 21. In Colorado, marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol, including the stipulation that people without medical marijuana licenses may only purchase marijuana from retail establishments if they are 21 or older. The sting operations involved sending underage customers into stores to attempt to buy marijuana while being supervised by police officers. Shops who break the law face huge fines and can have their licenses revoked.
During the course of these sting operations, not a single underage buyer was allowed to purchase marijuana from any of the 20 shops. Business owners have welcomed this announcement as an important sign of the legitimacy of the industry and the effectiveness of the regulatory structure. In response to this news, Lewis Koski, the director of the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division, issued a statement. He said, “We are pleased with the results and will continue to monitor the businesses to ensure that the compliance efforts are maintained.”
The Board of Water Works of Pueblo County, Colorado is meeting later today to discuss two resolutions that would supply treated water to the county to grow marijuana within the city limits, the Pueblo Chieftain reports. The resolutions are an attempt to work within current law that forbids the use of public water, such as that from the county’s Lake Pueblo, from being used to grow marijuana. They would also allow for the sale of water from the water board’s direct flow rights in Pueblo Dam while not selling water with any federal links to growers. Though Colorado voters approved medical marijuana in 2003 and adult use was made legal in 2012, growing marijuana plants is still a federal crime.
The resolutions would allow the water board to supply marijuana growers while still adhering to federal policy. It would also clarify some of the water rights that are not subject to federal policy. However, the water board retains the right to terminate the use of water for marijuana growing if federal policy changes. The second resolution would make about 260 million gallons of raw water available to Pueblo County growers annually by lease. This, too, contains provisions to cancel contracts as they are subject to federal policy changes. Pueblo County hopes to raise about half a million dollars in additional revenue from these new policies.
Colorado is preparing to begin the largest state-funded study on the benefits of medical marijuana, The Denver Post reports. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill that will distribute about $9 Million in grants to researchers. These studies will be unique because clinical trials on the kinds of marijuana products that Colorado citizens consume will be among the research conducted. The purpose of these studies is to research the effects of marijuana on the people in a setting where they can consume it legally.
Colorado is following suit in its research after California became the first state to fund medical marijuana research more than 12 years ago, and studies there have yielded results about the analgesic effects of certain doses. Dr. Larry Wolk is the executive director and chief medical officer of Colorado’s health department. While emphasizing that Colorado would mainly fund research on approved medical conditions, Wolk also stated that the state would look into funding other kinds of studies as well. Wolk hopes to begin accepting applications later this year, with funding starting in early 2015.
This is especially good news in light of a report released this week showing that the federal government has consistently stymied research into the potential benefits of marijuana.