New Colorado marijuana rules go into effect on January 1, 2021

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DENVER, Colo. December 31, 2020 -- Marijuana rules stemming from the General Assembly’s 2020 legislative session go into effect on January 1, 2021 for all regulated marijuana businesses across Colorado, specifically expanding on the state’s Social Equity Program for cannabis businesses and eliminating residency requirements for employees. Additional new rules of note include enhanced sustainability options for licensees and availability of delivery permits for retail stores and transporters. Final rules were adopted by the State Licensing Authority on October 9, 2020 after a summer and fall of extensive stakeholder engagement led by the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED).

“There is no bigger MED priority than the success of the state’s Social Equity Program for
cannabis businesses,” said Jim Burack, MED Director. “We are grateful to our stakeholders who
have shown a continuous and sustained commitment to help us get this right.”

Highlights of notable key rules that go into effect on January 1 include:

  • Legislation Implementation:
    • HB20-1080 eliminating residency requirements for Employee Licensees; and
    • HB20-1424 providing direction and authority to establish a Social Equity Program within the MED.
      • Ultimately the goal is to increase diversity in the number of Owner Licenses, which has less diverse representation in comparison to MED’s Employee Licenses so the industry is more reflective of Colorado’s
      • A person who meets the eligibility criteria for a Social Equity Licensee can participate in the Division’s “Accelerator Program” or may independently own and operate a Regulated Marijuana Business license.
      • Applications to participate in the accelerator program will be available beginning January 1, 2021.
      • MED’s social equity website also launched on December 31, 2020.
  • Sustainability Measures:
    • New sustainable options for licensees to make marijuana plant waste unusable and unrecognizable;
    • New sustainable methods available to licensees exempt from the 50% Mixture Requirement, including:
      • On-Site Composting
      • Anaerobic Digestion
      • Pyrolyze into Biochar
      • Biomass Gasification
    • Additional options for consumer waste recycling, including:
      • Consumers can recycle their marijuana waste at Regulated Marijuana
        Stores and Hospitality Businesses
      • Other Regulated Marijuana Businesses can recycle their waste at another Regulated Marijuana Businesses
  • Regulated Marijuana Delivery for Retail Stores and Transporters (HB19-1234):
    • Delivery to private residences from retail marijuana stores begins on January 2,
      2021, subject to local jurisdiction approval.
    • Delivery to private residences from medical marijuana stores began on January 2, 2020, also subject to local jurisdiction approval.
  • Other notable rule changes:
    • Science & Policy Work Group Recommendations:
      • Vape emissions testing requirements for heavy metals
      • Requirement for vaporizer product manufacturers to establish expiration dates and storage conditions based on contaminant, potency, and stability testing.
    • COVID-19-Related Rules - made many of the existing emergency rules
      permanent, including:
      • Allowing Regulated Marijuana Businesses to operate in a manner
        consistent with social-distancing guidelines.
      • Walk-up/Drive-up window allowances (subject to local approval).

MED will continue to focus on outreach to support stakeholders through the implementation process. This technical assistance program includes licensee tools, such as industry bulletins, compliance tips, webinars and live topic-focused Town Halls, which include panels of experts to provide guidance and answer questions in real time. MED will continue to solicit stakeholder feedback to support meaningful progress on social equity, sustainability and other important initiatives throughout 2021 and beyond.

Please visit the MED Rules Page to view the Colorado Marijuana Rules, 1 CCR 212-3, in its entirety.