Denver lifts US residency requirement for cannabis business owners

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Denver has removed barriers for cannabis business owners that aren’t yet U.S. residents, and the rest of the state might soon follow.

The moves would pave the way for immigrants and foreigners to participate in the legal marijuana market.

They also continue a policy trend of once-common residency requirements for marijuana business ownership being removed by states or overturned by courts.

According to Denver alt-weekly Westword, Denver’s policy shift is a result of a change in state law this year that repealed a 2006 statute requiring all marijuana business owners to prove they’re legal U.S. residents.

Colorado Senate Bill 199 “removed proof of lawful residence as a requirement to receive public benefits” including from cities and counties, Westword reported.

The move led Denver officials to open the doors for the immigrant community, in particular, to engage in more entrepreneurship, including in the marijuana space.

“An individual’s immigration status will no longer be a barrier to starting a business in the Mile High City,” Denver Excise and Licenses Executive Director Molly Duplechian told Westword.

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Meanwhile, Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) has proposed state rules changes that include eliminating “proof of lawful presence or citizenship,” which was also chalked up to SB 199.

A change at the state level is key because cannabis companies seeking to operate there must receive business permits from both local and Colorado regulators. And the state license must be issued first, Westword noted.

A final draft of the changes to state rules will be released by the MED on Sept. 26.