How to Open a Medical Marijuana Dispensary or Recreational Cannabis Shop in Colorado

Interested in starting your own recreational cannabis shop or medical marijuana dispensary in Colorado? Want to join an exciting, rapidly-growing industry before it starts to get crazy crowded? Here’s a handy, step-by-step guide to opening your own cannabis location, whether it’s medical or recreational, in Colorado:

Step-by-Step Process for Opening a Retail Cannabis Store in Colorado

Step 1: Familiarize yourself with Colorado’s Retail Marijuana License Application process.

​Step 2: Determine if you meet the criteria to start your own retail cannabis business in Colorado. Applicants must adhere to the following requirements:

  • Must be a Colorado state resident for two years before applying
  • Must be at least 21 years old
  • May not have any controlled substance felony convictions in the 10 years immediately preceding their application date, or within five years of May 28, 2013, whichever is longer (the Licensing Authority may grant a license to an applicant if he or she has a state felony conviction of possession/use of cannabis/concentrate that would not be a felony if the person were convicted on the date of the application)
  • May not have any other felony convictions that haven’t been fully discharged for five years prior to your application date
  • May not be either partially or fully financed by anyone with a criminal history indicating poor moral character or a reputation that’s dissatisfactory to the respective licensing authority
  • May not have a criminal history that indicates poor moral character
  • May not employ or be assisted by anyone with a criminal history indicating poor moral character or a negative reputation
  • May not be a sheriff, deputy sheriff, police office, prosecuting officer, or be employed by a local or State Licensing Authority
  • May not employ anyone that hasn’t passed a criminal history record check

​Step 3: Download and complete the MED Retail Marijuana Business License Application and aColorado Associated Key Marijuana License Application. Keep in mind that the applications may require additional documentation, such as evidence of the premise to be licensed, copies of tax/wholesale license, funding source disclosure, etc.

Step 4: Once you have your documentation, contact an appointment at their headquarter office (455 Sherman St., Suite 390, Denver, CO 80203). Include the following information in your email:

  • The name of your business
  • License number
  • Reason for application (include local authority for each license)
  • How many owners will be present during the appointment
  • Contact name and phone number

Step 5: Fork over some application fees (note that both the application fee and the initial license fee are due at the time of application):

  • Application fee: $5,000
  • Initial license fee: $3,000


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