Update on Denver Cannabis Consumption Permits

Designated Consumption Area (“DCA”) permits are revocable, non-transferrable permits that allow cannabis consumption at qualified businesses or special events in Denver. While DCA permits for businesses are valid for one year, permits for special events cannot be longer than ten days per calendar year.

Denver’s Office of Excise and Licenses has issued draft rules for DCA permits, a summary of which follows. Denver expects to adopt the draft rules, with few if any revisions, by the end of June 2017, expects to accept applications beginning in July 2017, and to issue the first DCA permits approximately 4-6 weeks thereafter.

Please be aware that the following summary is for educational purposes, is not legal advice, and potential applicants should consult with a licensed attorney.

Potential Applicants should consider:

  1. DCAs may be indoor or outdoor, but cannot be visible to the public from a public place.
  2. DCAs cannot be located at the same location as a liquor license, for either businesses or special events, unless liquor is not being served at the time the DCA is active.
  3. DCAs have significant location restrictions (detailed below).
  4. DCAs are “bring your own cannabis”. DCAs cannot sell cannabis or cannabis products, but may sell food, non-alcoholic drinks, and novelties. DCAs may charge admission fees and also rent equipment, such as dab rigs, vaporizers, bongs, etc.
  5. DCAs intending to allow smoking of cannabis face much stricter requirements than DCAs intending to allow only vaping (including flameless dabs) and/or edibles.

Application Requirements

  1. Contact information, fingerprints, and criminal background checks for the applicant and its managers, including anyone entitled to at least 5% of the profits of the DCA.
  2. The DCA’s address and proof of possession by the applicant. If leased, the applicant must have landlord approval for use of the premises as a DCA.
  3. All dates, hours of operation, and proposed duration of the DCA.
  4. A floor plan outlining in red the DCA’s location within the business or event.
  5. An explanation of how the DCA complies with the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act.
  6. Evidence of support or non-opposition from a registered neighborhood organization or business improvement district that encompasses the DCA.
  7. A community engagement plan.
  8. A security plan.
  9. An operations plan.
  10. An employee training program.
  11. A health and sanitation plan.
  12. A marijuana waste plan.
  13. If smoking or vaping is permitted, a ventilation plan and an odor control plan.

Restrictions on DCA Locations 

  1. A DCA cannot be located:

a. within 1,000 feet of, or at, any school, child care establishment, alcohol or drug treatment facility, or city-owned recreation center or outdoor pool;

b. at any location that shares the same street address as a liquor license or a licensed marijuana business regardless of units, suites, or rooms unless alcohol is not being served while the DCA is operating;

c. on any public or city-owned property; or

d. in a residential zone.

Permit Approval Process

  1. A public hearing will be held within 30 days of submission of an application for a DCA business permit.
  2. DCA special event permits will not require public hearings unless such hearing is requested by at least ten parties in interest.
  3. Permits will be awarded or denied based on the totality of the circumstances, including:

a. the completeness and sufficiency of the application;

b. the background investigations;

c. the public hearing; and

d. whether the evidence of community support or non-opposition from the registered neighborhood organization or business improvement district is valid and reliable.

Operational Requirements After a DCA Permit is Approved

  1. All city inspectors, investigators, and police must have access to the DCA at all times to inspect the premises.
  2. DCAs must maintain and provide access to on-premises records, and must provide access to off-premises records within 3 business days.
  3. DCAs must have signs posted at all entrances reading “NO ENTRY UNDER 21,” and all entrances must be monitored by an employee at all times.
  4. Prior to entering a patron must:

a. provide a government-issued ID showing he or she is 21 or older; and

b. sign an acknowledgement stating, at a minimum that the patron is:

i. responsible for his/her own actions;

ii. will consume responsibly;

iii. will not drive impaired, and

iv. will not sell or distribute marijuana for remuneration.

  1. DCAs must have secured and controlled waste receptacles for marijuana waste.
  2. DCAs cannot advertise to minors or anywhere that is visible to members of the public from any street, sidewalk, park, or other public place.
  3. DCAs may advertise:

a. in a licensed marijuana establishment;

b. on a fixed sign located within the DCA;

c. in a newspaper, magazine, or other periodical of general circulation; or

d. incidental to the sponsorship of a charitable event.

8. Within the DCA, the permit holder, employees, and patrons may not:

a. cultivate, process, manufacture, store, sell, or distribute marijuana or marijuana products;

b. possess, per person, more than one ounce of marijuana, eight grams of marijuana concentrate, or 800 milligrams of edible marijuana products;

c. use or allow the use of gas torches;

d. consume or allow the consumption of alcohol;

e. consume marijuana or marijuana products if on-duty as an owner, manager, or employee of the DCA.

More information, including the full draft rules, can be found here.

Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions about this process.