Compliance Costs for Pot Centers in Colorado: $30,000 and Up…Way Up

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How much does it cost to comply with Colorado’s new medical marijuana regulations? Think $30,000 minimum and more than $100,000 on the high end, according to estimates provided by a handful of dispensary owners I’ve spoken to in recent weeks.

The regulations, which went into effect July 1, cover everything from signage, sanitation and security systems to inventory and employees. It’s quite an exhaustive list. You can get the PDF here by clicking on Adopted Rules.

The amount dispensary owners must spend to comply with these rules depends on how they structured their business and the size of their operations. Some medical marijuana centers were already in compliance with a number of these regulations, while others had to essentially overhaul their operations.

The biggest cost, by far, is tied to security. Owners say they’ve spent $20,000 and up on cameras, digital video recorders and other required technology.

Although the rules are now in effect, most dispensaries aren’t 100 percent compliant yet (at this point they need to show the state that they are moving in the right direction). So they’re still pumping money into these areas.

The high compliance costs are doing a number on many dispensaries, and only the strong are expected to survive. The scary thing is that once they meet all these compliance regulations, medical pot centers have to shell out another $50,000 to $60,000 in fees and other expenses just to get their actual license!

Other states look to Colorado as a model for medical marijuana regulation, saying it helps give the industry the respect and legitimacy it so badly needs. But don’t forget that legitimacy has its price.