By law, all of the applications came from people currently operating medical-marijuana businesses in Colorado. But the tallies represent just a fraction of the state's medical-marijuana industry.
Colorado has 517 medical-marijuana dispensaries, 138 medical-marijuana-infused products businesses and 736 medical-marijuana-cultivation facilities, according to the Marijuana Enforcement Division.
"It's expensive," Meg Collins, the executive director of the Cannabis Business Alliance, said in explaining why so few medical-marijuana businesses are seeking to add a recreational component. "In the discussions I've had with folks, I think that one of the things that possibly forestalled people from immediately jumping in is the financial consideration."
Application fees for new recreational-marijuana businesses start at $500 and licensing fees range from $2,750 to $14,000, depending on the type of business and other factors. Postlethwait said the division has not finished its accounting on how much money it collected in October, but estimated that application fees alone brought in around $179,000.
Only two of the businesses that have applied indicated they would make a full conversion to recreational sales, Postlethwait said. The rest intend to operate jointly as medical- and recreational-marijuana stores. In some cases, those businesses will have to divide the shops with a wall and give each shop a separate entrance.
Local bans and moratoriums on recreational pot sales including in places such as Colorado Springs and Boulder, each of which has dozens of medical-marijuana dispensaries have also kept recreational applications down, said Mike Elliott, the executive director of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group.
Still, Elliott said more businesses are applying for recreational licenses this month and they, too, could receive permission to open shortly into the new year. The Marijuana Enforcement Division has 13 application appointments already scheduled this month.
"I think this is a sign of a very healthy program right now," Elliott said.
John Ingold: 303-954-1068