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Denver Prioritizes Social Equity Applicants for Cannabis Delivery Licenses

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Sep 22, 2022   

Image credit: RoseBox via Unsplash

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Denver’s forthcoming cannabis delivery services will all be owned by social equity applicants.

The promise comes from Denver City Council, which, on September 19, voted to give social equity transporters permanent exclusivity in Denver to conduct cannabis deliveries.

The council also voted to slash licensing fees for delivery companies in another effort to “create a more equitable cannabis marketplace.”

Delivery dilemmas 

Prior to the council’s vote – and its approval from Mayor Michael B. Hancock – the exclusivity period for social equity transporters was set to expire on July 1, 2024. From then on, dispensaries would have been able to carry out their own deliveries.

Now, all cannabis retailers that wish to maintain deliveries will have to continue their contracts with the social equity transporters indefinitely.

To qualify as a social equity applicant, a delivery company representative must either:

  • Reside in a disproportionately impacted area of Colorado for at least 15 years between 1980 and 2010.
  • Have a cannabis-related criminal record or arrest.
  • Have a household income in the prior year of application that did not exceed 50% of the state’s median income.

The new delivery fee reductions are:

  • $25 (down from $500) for a one-time application fee for stores.
  • $25 (down from $2,000) for an annual delivery license fee for stores.
  • $25 (down from $2,000) for an annual delivery license fee for transporters.
  • $200 (down from $1,500) for an annual license fee for a medical cannabis transporter license (waived upon initial application).
  • $200 (down from $2,500) for an annual license fee for a recreational cannabis transporter license (waived upon initial application).

The city council hopes these fee reductions can help boost the city’s cannabis delivery sector, which has been struggling to thrive ever since deliveries were legalized last year. As of this March, just 19 of Denver’s 206 dispensaries provided deliveries, according to Denver7 news. The very first delivery licensee, Doobba, also ceased operations this June.

Speaking to Denver7 earlier this year, Eric Escudero, a spokesperson from the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses, posited a reason why delivery companies were struggling to make ends meet.

“We’re requiring stores to work with social equity transporters, delivery companies and unfortunately, so far, not many stores have stepped up to the plate to show their support for social equity by getting a delivery permit and working with these companies,” Escudero said.

“As far as trying to understand why these dispensaries aren’t working with these social equity delivery companies, we know that profit matters to every business. So maybe it’s a profit issue.”


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