Colorado was one of the first U.S. states to legalize marijuana and the first to open its adult-use market on January 1, 2014. Colorado established a relatively open-license market as compared to more restrictive limited-license models in some other states such as Illinois, Nevada, and Massachusetts. After many years of growth, the market experienced a decline in sales during 2022.
Legalization Dates:Medical: 2000 via Amendment 20
Adult-Use: 2014 via Amendment 64
Relevant Legislation:Colorado Retail Marijuana Code (HB 13-1317) (Associated Regulations are 1 CCR 212-2)
Summary of Colorado Marijuana Laws (State of Colorado)
Summary of Colorado Marijuana Laws (COVA)
Regulatory Bodies:Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED)
Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE)
Licensing Model:Open licensing – no quota on number of licenses.
15 license categories (8 Medical, 7 Retail)
Example Firms: Colorado Retailers – Among the most prominent Colorado firms are Native Roots (20 locations and licenses in Canadian province of Manitoba, Interview with CEO Ryan Brown), LivWell (19 locations and also in Oregon and Alberta, acquired 5 Mindful locations in May 2020), The Green Solution (22 locations), Green Dragon (15 locations), Starbuds (13 locations in Colorado, plus Baltimore, Okalahoma, Jamaica and also involved in Louisiana), Lightshade (9 locations), Silver Stem Fine Cannabis (10 locations in Colorado and Oregon), Buddy Boy (7 locations), Maggie’s Farm (7 locations), The Clinic (4 Colorado locations, 2 Illinois), Terrapin Care Station (7 Colorado locations), MMJ America (Denver, Boulder, Las Vegas), Colorado Harvest Company (3 locations), Medicine Man (4 Colorado locations), Solace Meds (acquired previous Sticky buds Denver locations), Verde Natural (Denver and Boulder), Good Chemistry (Colorado, Massachusetts and Nevada), Cure Holdings (Colorado, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma). Other Colorado dispensaries include Botanico, Euflora (6 Colorado locations), Lucy Sky (2 locations), Green Cross Caregivers, Kind Love (Denver and Oklahoma), Simply PureMile High Green CrossThe Herbal Cure (Denver), Good Meds (Englewood, Lakewood),  Backcountry Cannabis (Crested Butte), Rocky Mountain Remedies (Steamboat Springs), Denver Clone Store, Northern Lights, Green Sativa (Federal Heights).

Wana Brands, The Coffee Joint (Licensed Social Consumption Venues. Denver, Westword profile)
Industry Associations:Marijuana Industry Group (Colorado trade association, founded in 2010). Interview with executive director Kristi Kelly, Colorado Leads (pro-business alliance)
Market Size:Colorado reported a record $2.22B from marijuana sales in 2021 , surpassing the previous records of over $2.19B in 2020, $1.55B in sales in 2018 and $1.5B in 2017. Since legalization in 2014 total sales have exceeded $10B and state taxes over $1B. The Colorado industry has been estimated to employ about 18,000 employees These amounts still represent less than 1% of the state’s overall sales, budget or employment. In 2018 the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City produced a broad report assessing economic impact in Colorado (Cannabis summary),  In 2016, the Marijuana Policy Group (MPG) produced a detailed report on the economic impact of the industry in Colorado. In 2020, MPG produced another very detailed report on many aspects of the regulated market.
Articles on Colorado Industry:Colorado’s big marijuana players are going global with franchises and expansions (The Gazette, Nov 19, 2018)
5 things I found surprising about legal marijuana in Colorado (Detroit Free Press, July 12, 2018)
Falling Marijuana Prices in Colorado: A Lesson in Economics (Marijuana Times, July 4, 2018)
Colorado experts tackle the potential and challenges of using marijuana money to address homelessness (Denverite, June 22, 2018)
Nearly 4 Percent Of Denver’s Electricity Is Now Devoted To Marijuana (CPR, Feb 19, 2018)
Non-U.S. citizens advised to stay away from jobs in Colorado marijuana industry (The Cannabist, Feb 17, 2018)
Colorado Dominates List of Top 150 Ancillary Businesses (Westword, Sept 2017)
It’s time to look beyond the clichés as cannabis comes of age in Colorado (Colorado Politics editorial by Chuck Smith of Dixie Elixirs, Sept 2017)
Colorado’s Six Largest Dispensary Chains (Westword, June 2017)
An Experiment of the Free Market is Taking Place in Colorado (The Marijuana Times, Dec 2016)
LivWell, one of America’s largest weed businesses, just got a lot bigger (The Cannabis, Feb 2016)
Articles on Colorado Regulation:Lawmakers Aim to Restrict Medical Marijuana Access and Concentrate Sales (Westword, May 17, 2021)
Colorado’s Marijuana Laws Are About to Change…Big Time (Westword, May 7, 2019)
Colorado Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Delivery (Westword, May 1, 2019)
Marijuana and Hemp Bills Introduced in the Colorado Legislature in 2019 (Westword, April 29, 2019)
Colorado Cannabis Wants To Go Public, But Not Everyone Is On Board (Colorado Public Radio, Feb 22, 2019)
Colorado supports hemp legalization at national level (Journal, May 18, 2018)
Colorado’s Governor Will Decide Whether Cannabis Consumers Get ‘Tasting Rooms’ (Reason, May 10, 2018)
Colorado cannabis firms could get publicly traded, out-of-state investors under proposed bill (The Cannabist, Feb 28, 2018)
Lies, damned lies, and statistics about marijuana legalization (Sam Kamin opinion piece, The Hill, Feb 1, 2018 – response to Jeff Hunt Aug 2017 USA Today editorial “Marijuana devastated Colorado, don’t legalize it nationally“)
How will the new rules released for the Colorado marijuana industry affect consumers? (The Cannabist, Nov 21, 2017)
Anti-legalization group urges feds to “systematically shut down” cannabis industry (The Cannabist, Aug 2017)
Marijuana laws hard and expensive to enforce (April 2017 Denver Post opinion piece by Greenwood Village Police Chief)
Cops in Colorado can destroy pot, not save it, court rules (Fox News, Jan 2017)Colorado’s role as mentor to other jurisdictions (The Cannabist, Oct 2016)
Nation’s police chiefs gather in Lone Tree to learn how to cope with impact of legalized marijuana
(The Denver Channel, Jan 2015)The history of cannabis in Colorado…or how the state went to pot (Westword, Nov 1, 2012)
7 Common Misconceptions About the Colorado Red Card (Hail Mary Jane)
Colorado Marijuana Law Blog
As of December 12, 2022
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