How entrepreneurs are reacting to Denver’s retail pot moratorium

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DENVER -- Entrepreneurs looking to get into the retail marijuana industry in Denver are dealing with a dilemma that’ll have them waiting months, possibly even years.

On December 14, the Denver City Council extended a moratorium blocking new retail marijuana businesses from opening (within city limits). The only exemption is for current medical marijuana facilities.

“This extension maintains the requirement that new retail marijuana business licenses are limited to certain qualified, pre-existing medical marijuana businesses,” said Dan Rowland, Citywide Communications Advisor with the city and county of Denver.

However, during the moratorium, entrepreneurs are blocked from opening new medical marijuana facilities.

Initially, the moratorium was supposed to be lifted on January 1, 2016 – allowing new businesses to come in.

“Most of our industry – we were planning on having this new business come in and my biggest fear is the innovators and really great companies aren’t here yet – are going to be turned away,” said Lauren Harris, owner of Dynama Consulting, a marijuana consulting group based out of Denver.

Harris said Denver was being looked at as the Silicon Valley of marijuana retail. But with the moratorium in effect, people are looking elsewhere.

“By doing this I think it’s really going to push out these big players,” she said.

One of the people feeling the effects of the moratorium is Shelton Howard.

“I’m currently working a retail job and I want to own my own business. These decisions the city council is making are affecting my family and my livelihood,” Howard said.

Ideally, Howard would like to open a retail shop in Denver as well as a club. But for the time being, he’s stuck in limbo.

“They really need to take the next 140 days very serious and put forth rules and measurements that are going to make sense for everyone,” Howard said.

Denver’s moratorium only affects the city of Denver. Other cities have their own bills.

The 120 day moratorium is set to expire on May 1. But many are speculating it’ll be expanded for two years.

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