In Colorado, Adams County used a lottery in 2015 to determine who can apply for licenses for three retail stores, three grow facilities, three infused-product manufacturing facilities and one testing facility. (Megan Mitchell, Denver Post file)

Update: Adams County has its lottery draw for marijuana business licenses

BRIGHTON — Adams County selected 10 entrepreneurs Tuesday afternoon to begin the process to open a marijuana business in an unincorporated area of the county.

The county got 1,608 applications for three retail stores, three grow facilities, three infused-product manufacturing facilities and one testing facility.

The 10 selected applicants now have six months to get a state license, building permit and change-of-use permit for their business.

If a lottery winner doesn’t have all of that within six months — by 4 p.m. on July 21, to be precise — the county will call the next name that was pulled from the lottery, and that person would begin the process.

Names of applicants won’t be made public until after the winners have been notified. At the drawing, none of the approximately 60 people who were present were selected to apply.

We “didn’t hear anyone here jump up and scream ‘yeah, we won!’ but there might have been a few living rooms or office spaces across the metro area where that happened,” said Adams County spokesperson Jim Siedlecki.

He added: “For the people who came, there was a lot of hope. But when we only pull 10 out of 1,600, the odds were not in their favor.”

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The number of applications was high because the county did not mandate any requirements to be considered for the lottery, such as previous industry experience, cash on hand, a leased store front or a business plan.

Arvada resident Steve Anderson said he and his wife applied to open a recreational marijuana storefront, which would have been their first chance to break into the business, but their names weren’t called.

“It was a great opportunity to get involved in the industry,” Anderson said. “I appreciated the alternative way of doing this by allowing some smaller entities to take part in such a big industry.”

Likewise, another Arvada resident, Robert Ferrer, did not get chosen to open a manufacturing facilty.

“The odds were pretty bad for us,” Ferrer said. “But I think it was awesome. It was like letting everybody in on this big secret that (only experienced marijuana store operators) usually get.”

One such recreational marijauna store owner — who asked not to be named because he does not want his bank to penalize him — applied to open a storefront in unincorporated Adams County and said he thought the county should have imposed some experience requirements.

“We thought there should have been some minimum qualification process, and that would have helped our chances,” he said. “Every person who was interested could put their name in, whether they were actually qualified to run a marijuana business or not.”

Each category of business had a color-coded ticket numbered to correspond with each application. Each batch of tickets was dumped into a separate lottery spinner. The process was overseen by accounting firm Eide Bailly, the county said.

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In addition to the winners, four back-up names were drawn for the testing facility, and 12 back-ups were drawn for each of the other categories.

The drawing was livestreamed on the county’s YouTube channel.

Both the cap of 10 businesses and the lottery system will be for this year. After that, the county may consider more stores and facilities as long as there is enough space for them.

Last year, Adams County voters approved recreational marijuana operations in unincorporated parts of the county along with an additional 3 percent sales tax on all retail sales.

The Board of County Commissioners and the county planning department have been busy formalizing a set of regulations and zoning requirements for marijuana operations. The first code was adopted by the board Dec. 16.

The code only governs the sale and manufacturing of recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana is still not allowed in unincorporated Adams County, although it is allowed in Northglenn and Commerce City.

Megan Mitchell: 303-954-2650, or

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