DENVER (AP) — Colorado could have more than 100 recreational-marijuana stores open Jan. 1, according to newly released numbers from the state's Marijuana Enforcement Division.
The division accepted 136 applications in October from people seeking to open recreational pot shops, The Denver Post reported Saturday (http://bit.ly/1auHY07 ).
A decision on the applications will be made by the end of the year, said Julie Postlethwait, a spokeswoman for the Marijuana Enforcement Division. That means the businesses are in line to open Jan. 1, the earliest date for recreational marijuana sales in Colorado.
By law, all the applications came from people currently operating medical-marijuana businesses in Colorado.
The state currently has 517 medical-marijuana dispensaries, 138 medical-marijuana-infused products businesses and 736 medical-marijuana-cultivation facilities.
"It's expensive," Meg Collins, the executive director of the Cannabis Business Alliance, said in explaining why so few medical-marijuana businesses are seeking to add a recreational component. "In the discussions I've had with folks, I think that one of the things that possibly forestalled people from immediately jumping in is the financial consideration."
Application fees for recreational-marijuana businesses start at $500 and licensing fees range from $2,750 to $14,000, depending on the type of business and other factors. Postlethwait said the division has not finished its accounting on how much money it collected in October, but she estimated that application fees alone brought in around $179,000.
Only two of the businesses that applied indicated they would make a full conversion to recreational sales, Postlethwait said. The rest intend to operate jointly as medical- and recreational-marijuana stores. In some cases, those businesses will have to divide the shops with a wall and give each side a separate entrance.
Local bans and moratoriums on recreational pot sales have also kept recreational applications down, Mike Elliott, executive director of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, told the newspaper. Towns with moratoriums include Colorado Springs and Boulder, each of which has dozens of medical-marijuana dispensaries.
Still, Elliott said more businesses are applying for recreational licenses this month, and they, too, could receive permission to open shortly into the new year. The Marijuana Enforcement Division has 13 application appointments already scheduled this month.
"I think this is a sign of a very healthy program right now," Elliott said.
Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com