Steve Herin, a master grower at Incredibles, works on repotting marijuana plants in a grow facility last August in Denver. (Denver Post file)

Feeling lucky? Adams County to hold lottery for 10 marijuana licenses

BRIGHTON — Anyone interested in getting into the retail marijuana business can apply for a spot in unincorporated Adams County Jan. 2 to 22.

The Board of County Commissioners voted to adopt its first set of retail marijuana regulations during a public hearing Tuesday. The rules will guide zoning and setbacks for the county’s first foray into the industry as well as the process for opening a recreational marijuana store or grow facility next year.

Per staff suggestion, the Board will cap the number of marijuana facilities opening in 2015 at 10 — that’s three retail stores, three grow facilities, three infused-product manufacturing facilities and one testing facility.

The county will randomly select those 10 applicants on Jan. 27 and give them 6 months to secure the necessary approvals through the county and state. There is no experience or cash-on-hand requirements to join the lottery system.

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“What we’re saying is: We want your name, your contact information, what type of business you would like to operate and then it’s thrown into the lottery,” said Abel Montoya, Adams County planning and development director. “If your name gets selected from the lottery … you would then proceed to submit for your state license and county permit.”

He said, “You would have six months once your name is selected to actually secure your license, building permit and change-of-use permit, and then you may go forward.”

If a lottery winner fails to secure all of those things within six months, then the county would go to a waitlist and the next name that was pulled from the lottery will immediately begin the same process to open.

County staff will defer to the state for licensing while the county researches the feasibility of creating a county-controlled licensing authority next year.

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Both the cap of 10 businesses and the lottery system will be in effect only through 2015. After that, the county may consider more stores and facilities as long as there is enough space for them to abide by the adopted setback rules.

Those distance parameters include a 1,000-foot store buffer from schools, daycare centers, playgrounds, and public housing facilities, and a 50-foot boundary from residential property. Manufacturing facilities for marijuana-infused products must stay 1,500 feet away from of any residential area.

All industry businesses must be at least 100 feet from churches, youth centers, alcohol or drug rehabilitation facilities, group homes for the developmentally disabled and halfway houses or correctional facilities.

Retail stores also have to be 750 feet away from each other.

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The regulations passed 2-1, with Commissioner Erik Hansen voting no.

There was a ban on retail marijuana in unincorporated Adams County through Dec. 31, but the board allowed it to expire after a county ballot initiative to raise and collect 3 percent sales taxes on all retail operations in Adams County passed Nov. 4. That tax goes into countywide effect in July.

There is still a ban on medical marijuana for unincorporated areas, which has no expiration date.

Megan Mitchell: 303-954-2650, or

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