Monday April 23, 2018

By Erin Hiatt


If you live in Colorado and you’re hoping to get a job in the cannabis industry, you’ll have to get a Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) occupational license (or badge as they’re commonly referred to). These badges allow individuals to work for MED licensed medical and retail marijuana facilities or vendors that provide services to said businesses. Obtaining an occupational license from the MED is crucial for anyone looking to work in the cannabis industry and many companies will not hire someone without one. Thankfully, the process is rather simple and we’re here to help guide you every step of the way!

Looking for a job in the marijuana industry? Browse PotGuide's cannabis job board here.

Types of MED Badges

There are a couple different MED badge types available: key and support. A “key” employee is defined as someone that makes operational or management decisions that directly impact the business, like a manager or grower. A “support” employee badge is for someone who works within the business, like a budtender or trimmer.

It’s also important to note that there’s a pretty big difference in price between a support badge ($75) and a key badge ($250).

If you’ve recently taken a job in the cannabis industry and are asked to apply for a MED badge, be sure to ask your hiring manager which type you will be needing for your day to day tasks. If you are not yet employed by a cannabis company and simply looking to become badged before you apply, consider the types of jobs you will be applying for.

MED Key Badge and Application
An example of a key badge and MED occupational license applciation.

If you think that a key badge would be necessary for any of the duties related to a potential future position then it might be a good idea to apply for one. However, if you are attempting to get an entry-level position a support badge will usually suffice.

How to Get Your MED Badge

Qualifying for a MED badge has some pretty strict requirements regardless of what kind you get, so make sure you can prove that all the following things are true:


  • You are a Colorado resident and have the driver’s license to prove it plus another form of ID to show your current address, like a utility bill or pay stub
  • You are 21 years of age or older
  • You have never been convicted of a felony for the use, distribution or possession of a controlled substance
  • You have not served time, including parole or probation for any felony in the past five years
  • You are NOT a physician making cannabis recommendations
  • You have never been a primary caregiver that had your authority revoked by the state
  • You are not related to or living with anyone who is an employee of the MED
  • You are not a member of law enforcement or prosecuting officer
  • You are not an officer or employee of the marijuana state licensing authority or local licensing authority

Can you say all of that with certainty? Great! You can now move on to actually applying. First, you’ll have to complete the application, which you should look at carefully because incomplete applications will NOT be accepted.

MED Logo
Make sure you're 100% prepared before visiting a MED office to avoid a wasted trip. photo credit

Just a heads up, you’ll need to disclose any arrests or convictions for a controlled substance in the last ten years as well as some other information regarding criminal history.

Pro Tip: The MED advises that it’s better to disclose all information than face denial, revocation or criminal prosecution. Additionally, be sure to be paid up on your taxes because you can’t get your MED badge if you owe the government any money.

Where to Apply

The MED has four offices in Colorado that are all authorized to accept occupational license applications. The offices are located in Longmont, Colorado Springs, Grand Junction and Lakewood/Denver. The Lakewood/Denver office is the only office that accepts walk-ins (8:30-11:30 AM, 1:00-4:30 PM), so for the others you’ll have to set up an appointment.

The day you apply, the top tip from the state of Colorado is to “Be on time!”

Once you arrive in a timely fashion, be sure to have the completed application printed single-sided and signed and notarized if indicated. You’ll want to have all of your supporting documentation, your forms of ID and the full application fee in check or money order for the exact amount as well ($250 for a key badge and $75 for a support badge).

At the office, you’ll have your picture and fingerprints taken for state records. Then the waiting begins as the state does an extensive background check. Should you pass, your badge will be mailed to your home address. When you get your badge and you’re working in your new marijuana dream job, be sure to keep that badge displayed at all times above the waist with the photo visible. Now that you know the process, it’s time to apply for your badge and get to work!

Do you have your Colorado MED badge? Is there anything people applying should know about the process?

Erin Hiatt Erin Hiatt

Erin Hiatt is a New York City-based writer who has been covering the cannabis industry for more than six years. Her work - which has appeared in Hemp Connoisseur Magazine, PotGuide, Civilized, Vice, Freedom Leaf, MERRY JANE, Alternet, and CannaInvestor - covers a broad range of topics, including cannabis policy and law, CBD, hemp law and applications, science and technology, beauty, and psychedelics.

Erin's work and industry insights have been featured on the podcasts The Let's Go Eat Show, In the Know 420, and she has appeared as a featured panelist on the topic of hemp media. Erin has interviewed top industry experts such as Dr. Carl Hart, Ethan Nadelmann, Amanda Feilding, Mark A.R. Kleiman, Dr. James Fadiman, and culture icons Governor Jesse Ventura, and author Tom Robbins. You can follow her work on LinkedInWordpress, @erinhiatt on Twitter, and @erinisred on Instagram.

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