The Colorado recreational marijuana industry grew larger Oct. 1 when the state Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) approved licenses for 96 new pot-related business ventures.
The week before the agency had handed down new regulatory rules that will impact almost every facet of the industry, from plant cultivation to training standards for employees to content standards for edible marijuana products.
The new licenses included 46 store locations, 37 cultivators and 13 marijuana product manufacturers, in areas widely distributed in the state. Currently, 20 of the state’s 64 counties and 45 municipalities allow retail marijuana sales and manufacturing, though the majority of shops are located in the Denver metro area.
The new marijuana businesses will include the first that were not required to have operated a medical dispensary under Colorado’s initial foray into legalization – meaning there can be new players in the game.
MED did not identify licensees that are newcomers to the industry, but many of the permits were for new locations of already established businesses.
For example, The Green Solution, LLC, received six recreational marijuana licenses on Wednesday – the most of any single company that day.
And this company already has three medical and four recreational licenses, in addition to five cultivation licenses.
The Green Solution, like all established retail marijuana stores, were required under former regulations to produce what they sold, but Oct. 1 also marked a change to that rule.
Now store owners have the option to buy wholesale from specialized cultivators who will grow cannabis in either greenhouses or indoor warehouse settings, as part of the state’s effort to increase supply, bring down prices and undercut the gray or black markets.
But some in the industry are skeptical that this will have intended results.
“The Denver market already has dispensaries attached to grows, and they are already serving the demand in the Denver area,” said Meg Collins, executive director of the Cannabis Business Association. “I don’t have a crystal ball but it’s going to be interesting to see how everything stacks up with new cultivation.”
The 96 additional licenses only reflect businesses approved to date. The MED received 179 applications for testing facilities, cultivation, product manufacturing and retail shops between July 1 and August 31. MED has 90 days from the time applications were received to approve or deny.