Denver City Council has approved a plan to issue cannabis delivery licenses exclusively to social equity applicants, as well as to lower the fees related to transportation licenses for the city’s transporters and dispensaries.
Passed Sept. 19, the ordinance decreases the $500 application fee and the $2,000 annual license fee for cannabis dispensaries to $25 each, according to a Denverite report. It also cuts the annual fees for transporters from $2,000 to $25, the news outlet reported.
In addition, the ordinance eliminates the option for retailers to use their own delivery services, ensuring that social equity operators are the only ones for the job, Denverite reported. Dispensaries can apply for their own transportation licenses again starting in 2024, according to the news outlet.
The Denver Department of Excise and Licenses initially put forth the proposal in July, and accepted feedback for two weeks before the city council reviewed the plan.
Denver launched its social equity program for cannabis licensing last year, Denverite reported, but demand for delivery has been low; of the city’s 208 total licensed dispensaries, only 18 have delivery permits and just three retailers consistently do more than 250 deliveries per month, according to the news outlet.
“It’s been extremely slow with delivery,” Eric Escudero, the communications director for the Department of Excise and Licenses, told the news outlet. “Stores haven’t done delivery. So, we’re seeing these delivery companies not renewing their licenses and going out of business because they have no product to deliver. We’ve already seen three companies surrender their licenses and three licenses are delinquent. If we continue on this path, we won’t have any companies to do deliveries.”
To date, Denver has approved 22 social equity cannabis licenses, 14 of which are related to transportation, according to Denverite.
City officials plan to distribute all new cannabis licenses to social equity applicants, who must have lived in a disproportionately impacted area of Colorado for a minimum of 15 years between 1980 and 2010, have a cannabis-related arrest or criminal record, or have a household income in the year prior to the application that did not exceed 50% of Colorado’s median income, Denverite reported.
Escudero told the news outlet that his department will keep looking for ways to improve social equity in Denver’s cannabis industry.
“We already had the biggest overhaul in marijuana rules and regulation in the history of legalization in Denver,” Escudero said. “We’re going to keep looking for what we can do to make Denver’s cannabis marketplace more equitable, so that more people truly have an opportunity to benefit from this billion-dollar industry."