DENVER, Colo. — The City and County of Denver is taking action to make marijuana dispensaries a harder target for crooks.
"Just because we’ve had success previously doesn’t mean we can't look at ways we can improve our regulations," said Eric Escudero with the Denver Department of Excise & Licenses. "We've started seeing a concerning trend of dispensary burglaries, especially in the last year."
For the first time ever, Denver is poised to put safe storage requirements on marijuana dispensaries.
"Dispensaries will now be required to have their money and their product locked up in a safe," Escudero explained. "Products that need to be refrigerated also need to be locked up."
Escudero said dispensaries that do not have room to install a safe would have to install a number of alternative security measures, including guard posts to keep cars from smashing the building, bulletproof or secure glass, live remote monitoring or video surveillance of the facility with loudspeakers, and alarm systems with sirens and strobe lights. That way, if a burglary occurs, it would be easy for members of the public to see a crime is taking place, Escudero said.
Input to create the rules was received from the Denver Police Department and the marijuana industry.
One concern expressed from the industry was that some stores do not have room to expand so they can have a safe. Escudero said Denver has special rules for dispensaries without room to install a safe that won’t require them to expand their building or move to another building to operate their store.
Establishments with drive-thru windows will be required to provide a handheld menu to customers and not have a list of products displayed outside that could be seen by youth.
Escudero says a report is set to be released that provides police data about marijuana-related crime, including burglaries in 2020.
In 2019, there were 213 crimes at Denver marijuana dispensaries with burglaries making up 57% of those crimes, according to Escudero.
Marijuana industry leaders have also been part of the conversation when working to implement the new rules.
"We’ve been working very closely with Excise & Licenses to make those recommendations flexible for those who already have security measures in place," said Kevin Gallagher, the director compliance and regulatory affairs for Apothecary Farms. "At the end of the day this product is going to be more secure."
The Department of Excise & Licenses will have a hearing on Sept. 10. Written comments will be accepted up until the hearing. People can submit written comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
You can read the full draft rules for Cannabis storage and service windows here.