110 medical marijuana businesses apply for Boulder license

About half of Boulder’s active medical marijuana businesses submitted an application for a license by Monday’s deadline.

Sarah Huntley, a spokeswoman for the city, said 110 applications for operating licenses were turned in to the city by 5 p.m. Monday. All Boulder marijuana businesses, both dispensaries and growing operations, were required to submit applications for a medical marijuana business license by the deadline — and pay a $3,000 application fee — to continue to operate legally.

City officials have said that the city has issued about 300 sales and use tax permits for medical marijuana businesses and more than 200 of those are active, meaning that the businesses are remitting the taxes.

New regulations from the state and the city — such as those that forbid convicted felons from running a medical pot shop or licensing fees that can reach tens of thousands of dollars — have pressured some dispensary owners out of the industry in recent months.

Dispensary owners also have said the city’s application requirements weren’t clear, prompting the city to extend the deadline earlier this year for the extensive application packets. City officials said confusion over the process led to mostly incomplete or inaccurate information.

The application packet, which states up front that business owners should retain an attorney to help navigate it, asks for information including whether the business sells marijuana-infused foods, how it plans to offset its energy used to grow the plant and whether it has a “good-neighbor plan.”

The city also wants detailed information about the people behind the businesses, requiring background checks on anyone with as little as a 1 percent ownership interest.

Ernie Travis, owner of Boulder Vital Herbs at 2527 North Broadway, said he hasn’t made money for months, in part because of application fees. He said he reluctantly hired a lawyer to help with Boulder’s application.

“The city didn’t make it black and white,” he said. “It was very difficult for laymen to interpret what they were looking for.”

While some dispensaries in Boulder left rather than deal with the state’s application process, he said, those that stuck around generally were willing to go forward with Boulder’s application — though some may not have had $3,000 to cover the fee.

Roberto Lopesino, one of the owners of the North Boulder Wellness Center at 1495 Yarmouth Ave., said his business also hired a lawyer to assist in putting together the “tedious’ application.

“We wanted to make sure that all our T’s were crossed and our I’s were dotted,” he said. “We feel like we’re under a microscope. It’s important to let the city know that we’re all very serious, and that’s how we approached the application.”

He said the city also has been willing to work with medical marijuana dispensaries through the process.

“We’ve all gotten more patient,” he said.

After the city hosted a workshop in September for businesses to clarify the rules, spokeswoman Huntley said, applications generally were turned in with fewer errors. She said the state has set a deadline of July 1 for cities to approve business licenses, though she said Boulder would like to have final approvals completed sooner.

Source: Daily Camera

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