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Monday December 19, 2016

Updated on 3/9/2022

By Michael Walters

Image of Boulder legislature room News

Progressive cannabis legislation is on the rise in the United States and is gaining momentum each day. And as many of you know, Colorado has been on the forefront of cannabis progression for quite some time now. With that being said, the city of Boulder has been a unique aspect of the state and has adopted policies and regulations that have sometimes been arguably stricter from other cities, such as Denver.

Although the regulations are slightly different in Boulder, recent city council meetings conducted by Boulder’s Marijuana Advisory Panel (MAP) have yielded some changes to the city’s code regarding cannabis. One of the most notable aspects of the hearings was the development of a transparent foundation of open communication between marijuana business owners and city officials. What has in the past been a slightly withholding process, both sides have come to an agreement to create better relationships and established trust to improve the community and the city as a whole. With 40 consensus-based agreements throughout the hearings, these sessions mark an historic event in Colorado history, as a clear distinction of unification between the state and marijuana business owners is becoming more and more apparent. To have a city like Boulder compromising and agreeing on the issue of marijuana is a very positive note, and hopefully is a beacon for more progressive reform to come.

Overview of Code Amendments/Additions

The changes to existing marijuana codes are rather extensive, and impacts the city and marijuana businesses in a variety of ways. We have hand-selected the most noteworthy and important changes to provide you with an easily digestible breakdown for understanding the changes. For a complete transcription of the hearings, please visit the city’s website and review the records archive.

Dispensary Hours

Have you even been in a hurry to get to your favorite dispensary and pulled into the parking lot only to find you were a few minutes too late? Well not anymore. Boulder cannabis enthusiasts now have a much lower risk of missing out and spending a night without their favorite marijuana product.

Dispensaries in Boulder are now authorized to stay open until 10 p.m. (formerly 7 p.m.) The change in hours of operation allows for dispensaries to serve customers for an additional three hours. Additional hours of operation will undoubtedly lead to increased revenue and tax dollars for the city.


If you’ve ever wondered why you haven’t seen your favorite cannabis company at any Boulder events, don’t worry, you’re not blind. Rather, cannabis events have been restricted in Boulder since the dawn of cannabis legislation in Colorado.

Not anymore though, as cannabis business are now permitted to sponsor events and advertise at them, so long as they are “adult events.” An “adult event” means that at least 70 percent of the audience must be 21 years or older, the setting must be out of public view and admission must be controlled to only allow guests that are 21 years or older.

Coupons, Discounts, Merchandise

If you’re an avid cannabis coupon hunter, you know that the best way to save money is by finding coupons and deals. Conversely, if you’re a cannabis business owner, you know that coupons and discounts are a great way to promote your business. Both parties can rejoice now, because businesses are now able to offer coupons and discounts, as long as the intended demographic is at least 70 percent 21 years or older. Additionally, cannabis businesses can now sell merchandise to patrons on the provision that the business receives no less than 80 percent of its revenue from non-marijuana products or accessories.

Virtual Separation

While the physical separation of medical and recreational dispensaries is not a huge inconvenience to the consumer, it does create headaches for cannabis business owners. An easy solution to these issues is virtual separation, which has been allowed by the Marijuana Enforcement Division and many cities in Colorado. Virtual separation entails the allowance of a 21-plus facility that sells both recreational and medical marijuana products, so long as there are floor plans depicting separate sales counters, displays, and storage areas.

Businesses must provide 12 months of past evidence showing effective bookkeeping and accounting records for each facility to be able to apply for virtual separation.

Clone Sales

The banning of clone sales in Boulder has always been a head-scratcher for those looking to legally grow their own cannabis. Dispensaries have not had the chance market their genetics and strains to the consumer, and that has been a pain point for many.

Luckily, the law has finally caught up with the market demand and is now allowing the sale of clones both recreationally and medically. The provision states that no more than six plants may be sold to any one patron at a time, and the clones must be pre-ordered and scheduled for pick-up by the customer. While the pre-ordering method may differ a bit from traditional clone sales in other parts of Colorado, it is still a great step forward for the city of Boulder.

Key Employee Background Checks

It comes as no surprise that employees of the cannabis industry undergo scrupulous background and moral character checks before being allowed to work. However, due to the sometimes-lengthy background check process people are unable to start working for weeks or even months. This puts employees at a disadvantage, as well as cannabis business owners looking to make key hires.

To expedite the process and alleviate these issues, the MAP has agreed upon allowing keyholders (2nd in charge to the owner) to commence work right away in a tentative fashion until a final determination is made. This provision allows both the business and employee to operate smoothly and with less red-tape hold-ups.

ID Checking

As with alcohol, ID checking is a definite necessity to ensure compliant and safe operations. However, the past regulations were exclusive of some forms of valid IDs such as passports (because they cannot be scanned) and required dispensaries to deny them. The new code changes allow for legitimate identifications (passports, military IDs and other lawful government-issued IDs) to be accepted as long as they are reliable and prove the person is of age.

Good Neighbor Plan

The final code change we are outlining is the obligation for cannabis businesses to develop neighborhood responsibility plans that fulfill social responsibilities and increase communication between communities and businesses alike. The plans must include neighborhood outreach, development of open communication channels and a conflict resolution plan.

The neighborhood responsibility plans are a great step towards holistically connecting cannabis businesses with the community. With both sides working together to solve problems and better the community, a bright future for the community of Boulder is a definite possibility.

While there will certainly be a transitional period for everyone to get accustomed to the code changes, the overall outcome has to be considered a positive. In a city where cannabis law has been very strictly regulated, an agreed upon resolution with multiple changes is very pleasant news. The Boulder city council MAP has one last meeting planned in 2017 to assess the code changes and their effectiveness, however there is uncertainty whether the panel will be disbanded or not. Either way, the code changes mark a significant victory for the cannabis industry, as more and more cities are beginning to accept the presence of cannabis businesses and include them into community culture.

What do you think of the new regulations? Do you see a shift in attitude towards cannabis businesses? When will the cannabis industry become “normalized” into communities?


Michael Walters Michael Walters

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a degree in Writing and Rhetoric, Michael started his journey in the cannabis industry managing content, communications, and technical writing for one of Colorado's largest dispensary chains. In 2016, Michael pivoted to the ancillary sector to become PotGuide's Content Manager and was responsible for overseeing all of PotGuide’s editorial endeavors and content marketing strategies. Now, Michael is PotGuide's Director of Content & Marketing, focusing his efforts toward new educational content and exciting media endeavors.

With a life-long passion for cannabis knowledge and education, Michael devoted himself to becoming a subject matter expert on marijuana at an early age. Now, Michael has worked in the marijuana industry for over four years helping break down negative stigma and promoting safe cannabis practices. An avid consumer himself, Michael has worked tirelessly to improve content marketing strategies for cannabis businesses and is devoted to creating meaningful content that is useful to a wide variety of marijuana consumers. Follow Michael on LinkedIn and Instagram for updates and insights.

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