Sep 20, 2022 - News

Denver makes weed delivery exclusive to social equity companies

Illustration of a cannabis leaf on the side of a takeout box.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Denver is rolling out a new plan to save struggling cannabis delivery companies — but even city leaders aren't sure it will work.

Driving the news: The Denver City Council on Monday approved a measure that will make delivery exclusivity permanent for social equity transporters, or business owners considered disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs.

  • The ordinance also slashes licensing fees for social equity delivery companies and the retailers they partner with.

Why it matters: Colorado's cannabis industry is dominated by affluent, white men — and marijuana delivery licenses can serve as a path for business owners from diverse backgrounds to break into the hyper-competitive space.

Yes, but: Marijuana delivery in Denver has yet to catch fire.

State of play: Industry leaders suspect the Mile High City might be oversaturated with dispensaries — and potentially already too crowded with transporters — so the service may never catch on.

  • For some cannabis customers, it's easier to pick up their pot than pay extra for delivery.

By the numbers: Delivery accounts for less than 0.5% of monthly marijuana sales in Denver, city data shows.

  • 91% of Denver’s 208 dispensaries do not have delivery permits.
  • Among the city's 18 stores with delivery permits, half are actively carrying out orders and just three do more than 250 deliveries per month.

The intrigue: In Aurora, 75% of the city's 24 dispensaries have delivery permits, according to Denver Excise and Licenses.

  • Industry leaders say the discrepancy could be explained by how spread out dispensaries are in Aurora compared to Denver.

What's next: The policy changes go into effect immediately.

  • Whether the new measures will spur more marijuana delivery applicants remains to be seen.
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