Elle Beau, an employee of The Clinic, a Denver-based dispensary with several outlets, reaches into a display case for marijuana while helping a customer in Denver on Dec. 6.
Call it a Green Christmas.
Marijuana retailers in Denver on Friday were picking up the final licenses they need to legally sell retail pot in Colorado come New Year’s Day.
"We’re excited about it. We’re ready to go forward," Tim Cullen, co-owner of Evergreen Apothecary in Denver, told NBC News after the store picked up its license. "It’s going to be business as usual, just a lot more business."
Forty-two retail marijuana businesses, including stores, grow facilities and infused product manufacturing (or edibles), have completed Denver’s licensing process. Business representatives can collect their permits as long as they can show proof of their state permit, which is required for marijuana retailers in the city and county of Denver.
Thirty-four businesses in the city, mainly stores and grow facilities, have picked up their licenses, according to press secretary Amber Miller.
But Denver is among the more than 25 municipalities statewide that opted to allow medical marijuana businesses to begin transitioning into retail marijuana on Jan. 1.
The Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division said Monday that it had mailed 348 retail marijuana licenses — 270 to Denver — to prospective retail marijuana businesses, including stores, and facilities for cultivation, products manufacturing and testing.
But these businesses must get additional approval from the local authority — like Denver — where it is located before they can begin operating, meaning they might not all open on Wednesday, the department said in a press release.
Local jurisdictions also can decide whether or not to allow retail marijuana firms within their county or city limits at this time.
The businesses were vetted through the state’s retail marijuana licensing process, including fingerprint-based background checks, financial checks and payment of licensing fees.
Only existing medical marijuana centers in good standing can apply for a state retail license, through July 1, 2014.
Cullen said his team had been preparing for months for the change, including stocking up on retail product, adding more point-of-sale-systems, increasing staffing and aligning grows with the state’s new marijuana inventory tracking system. But for the day of, they've handed out coupons and plan to offer customers donuts, coffee and cookies as well as keepsakes to mark the inaugural day of retail sales.
"What’s going to be special is retail marijuana being sold for the first time ever legally in the United States," he said.