No more state moratorium and the procedure for new medical marijuana business licenses

As of 7/1/12, there is no more state moratorium for new medical marijuana business licenses. This means a new medical marijuana business can be formed and licensed. It also means that existing businesses can now expand, add another OPC, open a new MMC, or add a MIP.

According to MMED, the procedure for new licenses will be similar to “change of ownership.” This means that you will be provided with a checklist of items to be completed and documents to be provided to the state. Once the list is complete, it is necessary to schedule a meeting with either Mr. Lewis Koski or Mr. John Seckman to review the documents. Be advised that both the application and licensing fees are due at the time of application. MMED anticipates that there will be few such applications. Yeah, right!

Next, be reminded that you need local approval of any such business application. Be sure to check with the local authorities regarding their acceptance of such applications. If they won’t, the state won’t. If they will, the state will. For instance, the City of Boulder passed a 9-month moratorium. Mr. Seckman advises that state and local processing of the license can happen at the same time.

Additionally, new applications will be handled on a “first come, first serve” basis. No preference will be given to existing businesses. However, as a practical matter, MMED would already have a file on the business and a lot of the processing work may already be done.

Finally, be reminded that each MMC must have its own OPC. You cannot simply add a retail and attach your existing OPC to it. You may be able to subdivide your OPC into two OPCs, but local and state approval would be required. Of course, you can add more than one OPC to an existing MMC.  However,  unless and until the new license is granted by both local and state officials, YOU CANNOT START OPERATING!. You can only operate after both licenses are issued.

If you need our help, particularly in your meeting with MMED, please contact us.

City of Boulder Moratorium/Federal Threat

At last night’s Boulder City Council meeting, the Boulder City Attorney requested a six month moratorium for medical marijuana businesses. On the surface, this sounded like a good idea – keep new businesses from coming in for six months. However, the reality was that the proposed moratorium was intended to prevent existing businesses from bringing on investment, transfer the business to a new owner, expand the existing business or transfer to a new location. With the very real threat of Federal prosecution looming over the industry, the moratorium would prevent medical marijuana businesses from being able to move out of harm’s way.

In response, I drafted a letter to the City Council and, in particular, Councilperson K.C. Becker. I proposed that the moratorium not include existing businesses. Councilperson Becker took the letter and crafted a new ordinance that excluded existing businesses. After several hours of wrangling and heartfelt testimony from myself and several medical marijuana business owners, employees and patients, the City Council adopted the Becker Ordinance, City of Boulder Ordinance Number 7834. The ordinance permits existing businesses to proceed as usual.

In the waning moment of the public hearing, the moratorium was amended, as follows:

1. The moratorium for new businesses was extended until 11/9/12;
2. Existing businesses will be able to move forward with expansion, investment, sale and relocation after 3/8/12; and
3. New fees we added for change of business entity ($2,000), addition of financiers ($2,000), modification of premises ($3,000) and change of business manager ($150).

Finally, approximately 21 medical marijuana centers were identified as being in harm’s way of Federal prosecution. Those centers located within 1000 ft. of licensed day cares, schools (including the University of Colorado) and public housing units are a risk. Accordingly, I suggest that if you, or anyone you know, is within this danger zone the business should immediately obtain a new location before Federal prosecution visits the City of Boulder. I know this is a tough situation, but the prospect of federal prison should be incentive enough.

City of Boulder Medical Marijuana Business Moratorium

The Boulder City Attorney, Mr. Thomas Carr, recently requested and was granted a moratorium regarding medical marijuana businesses in the City of Boulder. The moratorium is expected to be extended for 6 months. I suspect this is a prelude to a request from Mr. Carr that the City Council enact a “cap” on the number of medical marijuana businesses in the City.

This is highly problematic. The moratorium affects existing businesses, not just new businesses. Under the current ordinance, the City requires a new license in the event the business wants to, or needs to, change locations. A new license is also required in order to transfer the business to a new owner. By contrast, the State of Colorado amends the existing license for both scenerios and does not require a new license.

In view of the recent Federal threat of criminal prosecution and civil forfeiture for landlords and medical marijuana businesses located within 1000 feet of a school, this is quite terrifying. For instance, if a medical marijuana business is within 1000 feet of a school (CU?, a day care?), the Feds require the business to move within 45 days. The City of Boulder moratorium makes this impossible.

Finally, the City’s actions demonstrate veiled hostility and fear toward the medical marijuana industry. The moratorium is likely only a first step. It is incumbent on all City of Boulder medical marijuana businesses to band together and oppose any further interference with medical marijuana businesses, which are the most regulated businesses in the history of the State of Colorado. City officials need to be reminded that they are representatives of the citizens of Boulder and personal political agendas have no place in representative government. If they are unwilling to support the industry, they need to be replaced with people who support local and state law regarding medical marijuana. Please attend the 2/7/12, 7:00 p.m., public hearing and let the Council know that further regulation, including the proposed moratorium, will not be tolerated.