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COVID-19 Impacts on Colorado Cannabis

The current state of the country regarding COVID-19 has brought a lot of uncertainty to many Coloradans and local businesses. Governor Polis has signed several executive orders since March 11, 2020. These efforts have been made to lessen the impact of the economic instability brought by COVID-19. However, many different industries in Colorado are taking a hit from the pandemic, of which includes the marijuana industry. Dispensary owners and operators have been navigating the ever-changing executive orders, emergency rules and industry bulletins set by the Governor and the State of Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED).

Business as usual?

While dispensaries are considered an essential business and have been able to remain open to the public, business operations look a little different these days.

In response to COVID-19 and executive orders issued by Governor Polis, the MED release emergency rules on March 20, 2020.

Rule 3-345

In response to an executive order that suspended the prohibition on retail marijuana store online sale transactions, the MED created rule 3-345. Rule 3-345 was created to provide an allowance for online and telephone ordering for medical and retail marijuana stores. The rule also allowed for curb-side pick up.

Rule 1-105

Rule 1-105 allows for medical and retail marijuana stores to offer both sales in the licensed premises and curbside. Curbside pick-up and sales must be conducted on the licensed premises such as:

  • a sidewalk,
  • private parking lot,
  • ramp to the entrance
  • but NOT on any public ground.

Other rules

Another rule was amended to allow temporary modifications to licensed premises without application and approval requirements. Any modifications made must be for the purpose of complying with all social-distancing guidelines.

The MED also amended a rule to suspend for 120 days from the effective date (of the rule) requirements for owner licensees to submit fingerprints at least once every two years before renewing an owner license.

The last emergency rule permits transfers of samples for testing to occur on property immediately adjacent to the premises for purposes of complying with social-distancing guidelines. MED continued to allow delivery to customers from medical marijuana stores with a valid delivery permit.

License Renewals

On June 26, 2020 MED released a new emergency rule that extends the deadline for regulated marijuana business license and owner license renewals. If the expiration date of any regulated marijuana business and owner license would expire between March 25, 2020 and July 20, 2020, that expiration date is extended for thirty (30) days. For example, an owner license that would expire on July 1, 2020 will not expire until August 1, 2020. However, if that license was extended due to the executive orders passed and the extended expiration date falls prior to July 20, 2020, that license’s expiration date will be extended an additional thirty (30) days.

Although this pandemic has brought many unforeseen consequences, the new and amended rules described above can hopefully alleviate some of the burden felt by businesses and individuals in the marijuana industry. MED’s emergency rules has added some beneficial changes to the marijuana industry in Colorado, and it is important that involved parties hear about it in order to know what compliance is needed to keep conducting business in the most normal way possible. If you have questions about these amended rules and the compliance of your operations, please contact Drew Gottlieb, partner, Berg Hill Greenleaf Ruscitti LLP.