How to Open a Dispensary in Colorado

So you’re looking to open a cannabis dispensary in Colorado, huh? Great! It won’t be easy, but then nothing worth doing ever is.

Colorado is a mature, crowded market as cannabis markets go. It can be a good market for you if you:

  • Think you can come in with some fresh capital and fresh ideas and do better than the people that are currently doing it
  • Are thinking big and want to buy up and consolidate existing chains and stores
  • Prefer to buy an existing dispensary (perhaps from an owner that is willing to give you a good deal to get out now) and make it your own

Even if you end up deciding not to open a dispensary in Colorado, you may want to consider looking here for key business partners, employees, and consultants. There are tons of bright, experienced people in the state that have been doing recreational cannabis longer than anyone else. Bringing them onto your team can give you a huge advantage in new cannabis states where so many first-time business owners have no idea what they’re doing and are flying by the seat of their pants.

Minimum Requirements

To open a dispensary in Colorado, you have to:

  • Be at least 21 years old 
  • Not have any prior convictions with regards to possession or distribution of controlled substances within the last 10 years 
  • Be fully discharged of all felony convictions for at least five years
  • Have a clean moral history. This will be determined by criminal records and a letter from your local police station
  • Not be employed by the local or State Licensing Authority. This may include being employed by the sheriff or a prosecuting officer

The Cannabis Market in Colorado

Colorado became the first US state to legalize recreational cannabis in 2014. Monthly sales peaked (so far) at $226.3 million in July 2020, with $43.2 million in medical sales and $183.1 million in recreational. Total sales in the last month before this was written (July 2022) were $153.9 million.

The state counted 1123 total active medical licenses and 1686 active retail licenses in its 2021 Annual Report. As of September 2022 it counts 402 medical and 665 recreational dispensaries.

On the positive side, Colorado doesn’t seem to be dealing with the race-to-the-bottom price wars that other free-for-all states like Michigan are currently dealing with. Prices bottomed out at $781 for a pound of bud in January 2019, but it’s since risen back up to $1316 per pound.

Because of Colorado market’s maturity, it is no surprise that there are a large number of marijuana dispensaries already in the market.

With so many dispensaries in Colorado, the only way you can open a new marijuana dispensary in Colorado and get an edge over your competitors is with the service you provide or by serving an underserved niche.

You will have to rely on business efficiency to get the edge you need, i.e., by employing hard working employees, using connections, promoting good causes, using state-of-the-art software, and more.

How to Open a Dispensary in Colorado

Based on the eligibility criteria mentioned above, if you meet all of the state’s demands, you can move on to looking at other aspects of opening a dispensary in Colorado.

Step 1: Planning

In the planning phase, you’ll have to put together a detailed business plan. This is when you start forecasting your business, i.e., determining projected expenses, millstones, potential revenue, and more. Conduct extensive market research to ensure you know what you’re talking about. 

You need to impress the state and investors, so write accordingly. 

Step 2: Generate Funding

The business plan will help you give your investors a good idea of who you are. Colorado allows funding secured from individual investors, banks, and investment firms alike. 

Step 3: Property for Your Store

Colorado has specific zones in which marijuana stores can open. These zones are away from schools and residential areas. When considering a property to buy, make sure you check the State’s zoning plans as well. 

Step 4: Time to Apply for a License

To get a dispensary license in Colorado, you have to fill out an application with both the state and the city or county where your store will be located. Here is a list of places that are currently accepting applications.

You can get either a medical or recreational license or both.

At the time of submitting your license you will already need control of a location and submit a thorough floor plan.

License TypeApplication FeeLicense FeeTotal
Medical Marijuana Store$5,000$2,440$7,440
Retail Marijuana Store$5,000$2,440$7,440
Medical Marijuana Store – Renewal$300$1,500$1,800
Retail Marijuana Store – Renewal$300$1,500$1,800
Registration of Owner$800$800
Owner License Renewal$500$500
Registration of Employee$100$100
Employee License Renewal$75$75

You can find the application form on the official Colorado state website.

Step 5: Setting Everything Up

After you have the license, you have to set up everything – your store, your inventory, your IT, your security, etc. This includes buying furniture, inventory, building a robust supply chain infrastructure, setting up a point-of-sale system, and an inventory management system. 

Colorado’s mature cannabis industry means that it is much more thorough than most other states. The smallest of mistakes can therefore have huge impacts on your operations. To ensure everything is code-compliant and efficient, let Cure8 help you set your IT infrastructure up and build a solid foundation for your cannabis business.

Once all that’s done, all you have to do is launch!

Whether you’re simply mulling things over or have your eyes set on opening a marijuana dispensary in Colorado, let our experienced developers and advisors help you secure and streamline your processes. Get in touch with us and experience leading technology and security experts’ help!

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