Denver Signs off on Weed Delivery for Social Equity Companies

Denver officials approved the measure on Monday.

The Denver City Council on Monday signed off on a measure designed to bolster the city’s cannabis delivery services, and do right by individuals who have been adversely affected by the War on Drugs.

Axios reports that city lawmakers “approved a measure that will make delivery exclusivity permanent for social equity transporters, or business owners considered disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs,” and will also slash “licensing fees for social equity delivery companies and the retailers they partner with.”

The new ordinance is a lifeline of sorts to struggling delivery companies. As Axios explains, Colorado’s capital city “launched its weed delivery program last year — which requires dispensaries to deliver through social equity transporters through July 2024 — nine of Denver’s 206 pot shops offer the service.”

“With few businesses to deliver for, the licensed social equity transporters are faced with ‘severe challenges’ to avoid going out of business,” Axios reports.

City officials in Denver passed a measure permitting cannabis deliveries in the city last year, designating the licenses exclusively for social equity candidates for a period of three years.

With that rule scheduled to expire in 2024, the ordinance passed by the city council on Monday makes it permanent.

Molly Duplechian, the executive director of the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses, said last year that the word on the street was that a number of cannabis dispensaries were waiting for the three-year exclusive period for social equity applicants to end before entering the delivery business.

“What we’ve heard is that some of the existing industry may have been waiting the exclusivity period out, or they could have been investing in a social equity transporter and then planning to move to do their own delivery in two years,” Duplechian said.

But weed delivery in the Mile High City has been a slow burn thus far. As Axios reports, the Denver cannabis market “might be so oversaturated with dispensaries that delivery will struggle to catch on,” and the “reality is that many people would rather pick up their pot than pay extra for delivery.”

Eric Escudero, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Excise and Licenses, said that cannabis delivery services have been slow to get off the ground in Denver.

“It is easy to see that Denver preventing stores from doing their own delivery so social equity businesses have the first crack at this business type is resulting in the industry choosing profit over supporting more equitable access to the industry,” Escudero told local news station 9News.

The station reported that Escudero “said only one in 20 Denver dispensaries offer delivery services,” compared with “80% of stores in Aurora, where the dispensaries can do their own delivery.”

According to the station, the social equity requirements “mandate delivery services be owned by people who lived in disadvantaged areas, make less than 50% of the state’s median income, or who have a personal or familial past marijuana charge or arrest,” and Escudero contends that “extending that requirement forever will incentivize dispensaries to make a deal” with delivery drivers.

“[It] gives the market regulatory certainty so any stores holding out for the opportunity to do their own delivery in two years have no reason to hold out anymore,” Escudero said, as quoted by 9News.

The newly passed ordinance may be enough to keep struggling delivery companies in business.

The station highlighted Michael Diaz-Rivera, owner of Better Days Delivery, who “said his company would likely not make it without city council intervention.”

“It has been tough getting dispensaries to match with us, and we can’t do anything without dispensaries buying in,” Diaz-Rivera said. “Business has been slow.”

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