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Med pot brings big green to state

August 4, 2010

Legal medical marijuana clinic, Denver, Colora...
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State makes $7.34 million from med pot biz license applications

Gene Davis, DDN Staff Writer

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The medical marijuana industry is bringing green to Colorado.

The state made $7.34 million in fees from the more than 700 dispensary owners who applied for their state license by the state-set Aug. 1 deadline. The state also received approximately 1,300 license applications for growing operations or related medical marijuana businesses. 

“This outpouring of applications is another sign of how willing and eager marijuana business owners are to be taxed, regulated and given equal treatment to other legitimate establishments,” said a statement from Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project. “By sensibly regulating its medical marijuana industry, Colorado stands to gain untold millions in new revenue while at the same time providing legal clarity and rational oversight to what may soon be the largest regulated marijuana market in the world.”

Under a bill Gov. Bill Ritter signed into law in June, medical marijuana businesses must have a city and state license to operate. Aug. 1 marked the deadline for businesses to apply for their state license before a moratorium goes into effect; the city license application deadline was July 1.

Approximately 400 of the 1,100 pre-existing dispensaries did not apply for a state license. Lawmakers had predicted that more dispensaries Ń about half Ń would not apply for the license.

For David Kilroy, owner of the Grasshopper Alternative Medicine, 1728 E. 17th Ave., trying to get his state application in by Aug. 1 made July the hardest month of his life. The detailed, approximately 30-page long application was supposed to be available for download by July 1, but didn’t go up online until July 5, he said.

“The deadlines were pushed on us so fast, we had to do three months of work in less than one month,” he said. “It was insane.”

Kilroy was surprised by how many dispensaries and other medical marijuana business applied for a state license. With approximately 105,000 medical marijuana patients in Colorado, there will be about 150 patients for every dispensary if their licenses are approved.

Kilroy added that the potential economic benefit for the state far exceeds the $7.34 million in application fees. The industry employs thousands of jobs, and the city of Denver raised more than $1 million in sales tax for medical marijuana from December-April, according to 9News. 

“I don’t think you can ignore the numbers,” Kilroy said.

Brian Vicente of Sensible Colorado, a medical marijuana lobbying group, believes the high number of dispensary owners who paid the fee and applied for a license shows that the downturn economy has caused people to “bet the farm” on their business. The application fee ran up to $18,000.

State officials couldn’t comment on how many of the license applications would likely be approved. Under the new law, the medical marijuana centers must grow 70 percent of their own marijuana by Sept. 1. The law also allows local municipalities to ban dispensaries from operating within city limits; Denver City Council plans to allow dispensaries in Denver.

The $7.34 million from the license application fees will go towards enforcing the new medical marijuana laws.

 See original posting: http://www.thedenverdailynews.com/article.php?aID=9482

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