Although marijuana has been decriminalized and legalized for certain purposes in Colorado and other states around the U.S., the specifics of how someone can legally run a business that sells or distributes marijuana can be difficult to understand. These laws are even somewhat incomplete because of their novelty, and lawyers and courts around the country constantly deal with novel situations that need to be addressed. The services of an experienced attorney can help you set up a business and comply with local laws and regulations.
The state of Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012 and the first marijuana retailers opened two years later in 2014. The state provides guidelines and relevant laws on their website, with the caveat that appropriate legal advice may still be necessary to interpret some of the laws.
Some of these regulations include licensing requirements for sellers and age restrictions for users. Only adults over 21 years of age are allowed to possess up to one ounce at a time, no more. Driving or operating machinery under the influence of marijuana or any other drugs is still dangerous and illegal.
A brief overview of the requirements and regulations
Those starting a business should keep the following points in mind to remain compliant:
- A person starting a marijuana business cannot have previous felony convictions on their record, otherwise the state will not issue them a license
- Dispensaries are usually required to be at least several hundred feet from places like schools and churches due to zoning laws
- Safety laws for growing and use of pesticides, along with packaging and distributing the finished product must be followed
- Residency requirements are on the books to make sure that business owners have actually lived in the state of Colorado for at least 2 years prior to operations
- All parties who will have an ownership interest in the business must submit an associated key person license application with fingerprints
- State requirements are different depending on whether the business sells medical marijuana or retail marijuana for recreational use
- Operators should also take steps to ensure that their product does not enter the black market or cross state lines, otherwise they can still face criminal liability and charges from the federal government
- The state licensing authority has sole discretion regarding which applications for a marijuana business are approved or denied – those operating a business without this approval can be charged under Colorado law for illegally distributing a controlled substance
The most common form of a marijuana business is a dispensary. It is estimated that dispensaries as a retail venture for marijuana make between $6 and $8 billion each year in America. Like all other businesses, marijuana dispensaries still need to file their taxes and follow appropriate labor laws for anyone employed by the company. A legal professional should also review a business plan for a retail space to ensure that it will be located in the proper area, have correct sources of funding, and take the proper steps to incorporate a business in the state.
Speak with an experienced attorney in your area
For more help with getting your marijuana business started or avoiding legal troubles, contact Sands Law Office, LLC. They are the premier firm for marijuana law in the Garfield County area.