The State of Cannabis Legislation & Licensing: Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah

Cannabis Business Licensing in Arizona | Arizona Cannabis Business Licensing | Cannabis Business Licensing in New Mexico | Cannabis Business Licensing in Colorado | Cannabis Business Licensing in Utah

Below is a compiled listing of marijuana legislation and cannabis business licensing in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.

Vertical growing is a growing trend within the cannabis industry. This practice of producing plants in vertically stacked layers or vertically inclined surfaces previously hit a particular roadblock of distance required between plants and high-pressure sodium lights (HPS) pertaining to heat damage. As the use of cooler LEDs becomes more widespread, vertical growing is increasingly a more viable option, with two types: stacked vertical and true vertical. Stacked vertical is the most common and utilizes levels of plant racks. True vertical plants grow out of the side of a column, with water and nutrients dripping down from the top. 

Before marijuana can be grown, however, laws must be in place. Below is a compiled listing of marijuana legislation and cannabis business licensing in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah, as of August 2019.

Cannabis Business Licensing in Arizona

Cannabis is legal for medical use only in Arizona. CBD is also legal. June 2019 saw updates to the medical use legislation including establishing priority licensing for additional non-profit dispensaries. This is based on the geographic area from which a previous dispensary moved from and must be 25 miles from another dispensary. 

In July 2019, advocates of recreational legalization in Arizona launched a new push to legalize marijuana in 2020. A 2016 legalization ballot initiative lost by 67,021 votes out of 2.53 million. Supporters believe the state’s experience with medical marijuana has diffused voter concerns since then, however, the Arizona governor remains opposed to legalizing cannabis for recreational use. 

Applications are closed for cannabis business licensing in Arizona. Original application fees for a Dispensary Registration Certificate was $5,000, with $1,000 being refundable if a certificate was not allocated despite a completed application. The application fee was not refundable in other circumstances, including an applicant withdrawing the application. Testing facilities must be an Independent Third-Party Laboratory with national or international accreditation and be certified by the state health department to analyze marijuana cultivated for medical use. The application fee for an Independent Third-Party Laboratory Agent was $5,000 with a renewal fee of $1,000.

Cannabis Business Licensing in New Mexico

Cannabis is legal for medical use only in New Mexico. CBD is also legal. On April 3, 2019, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession, which went into effect July 1, 2019. Penalties for possession of up to a half-ounce of cannabis will be decreased to a $50 fine, treated as a penalty assessment misdemeanor, and not considered a criminal conviction. On April 5, 2019, the Governor signed SB 406 into law which will make substantial changes to the state’s medical marijuana law, including allowing medical cannabis in schools, allowing reciprocity, creating a new Personal Production license to allow patients in rural areas to grow marijuana and send it to manufacturers to process it into products for them, and allowing licensed establishment to have “consumption areas”. 

Recently, a New Mexico district court judge ordered the state to begin issuing cards to qualified MMJ patients regardless of where they live. The judge indicated he believed the law is intended to expand the program to individual non-residents but spend a great deal of time in the state, such as college students or visiting scientists.

Applications are closed for cannabis business licensing in New Mexico. Divisions include Non-Profit Producer, Manufacturer, and Courier. 

  • Non-profit producer application fee: A non-profit producer shall submit with its initial application an application fee of ten thousand dollars ($10,000). If the application is denied, the department shall issue a refund of nine thousand dollars ($9,000) to the applicant.
  • Non-profit producer license fee: A non-profit producer that is licensed shall submit to the medical cannabis program a non-refundable license fee before beginning operations, no earlier than July 1st of each renewal year and no later than August 1st of each renewal year, of: thirty thousand dollars ($30,000) for the first 150 cannabis plants to be possessed by the non-profit producer, and ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for each additional quantity of 50 plants thereafter to be possessed, up to a maximum collective total of 450 cannabis plants.
  • A manufacturer applicant shall submit an authorized application form to the program with each initial application and renewal application, together with a fee of one thousand dollars ($1,000) issued to the medical cannabis program.

Cannabis Business Licensing in Colorado

Cannabis is legal for medical and recreational use in Colorado. CBD is also legal. Effective as of August 2, 2019, a new law permits Colorado doctors to recommend medical marijuana in lieu of opioids.

Applications are open for cannabis business licensing in Colorado. Cultivation, Manufacturer, and Retail application fees are $4,500 and are nonrefundable. Last year saw a 3% increase in adult-use cannabis business licenses in Colorado and an 8% decrease in medical licenses.

Cannabis Business Licensing in Utah

Cannabis is legal for medical use only in Utah. CBD is also legal. On December 3, 2018, legislators voted to pass the Utah Medical Cannabis Act which, in addition to other items, affected the licensing of dispensaries, replacing them with state government-run cannabis “pharmacies”.

Applications are closed for cannabis business licensing in Utah. Applications were accepted until July 1, 2019. On July 19, 2019, the department selected 8 companies out of the 81 applicants to award the licenses to. The department was authorized to award up to 10 licenses but chose to hand out only eight to avoid an overabundance of cannabis. The department of health will begin accepting applications to operate medical cannabis pharmacies by March 1, 2020. A cannabis cultivation license is required to grow, possess, and sell cannabis to cannabis production establishments or cannabis dispensaries. After January 1, 2022, up to five new cultivation licenses will be issued if it is determined necessary in order to provide an adequate supply, quality, or variety of medical cannabis to cardholders. A $10,000 application fee is required. If a license is awarded, the successful cannabis cultivation facility will be required to pay a $100,000 licensing fee. Processor and pharmacy licenses were also issued.

Learn and Network at THE Cannabis Expo

Are you certain of the best options for MMJ cultivation, business, and changes? CannaCon is a cannabis event packed with vendors, speakers, and experts in the marijuana industry and hemp trade. Join us for CannaCon South Sept. 27-28, 2019, or CannaCon Northwest Jan. 10-11, 2020, and you’ll find everything you need to successfully run your cannabis business, all in one place. Register today and work smarter, not harder by participating in this cannabis expo.


  1. Elliott gemigniani on October 11, 2019 at 1:04 am

    I would like to be notified and updated on the convention dates .

    • Rhonda Walton on July 27, 2020 at 6:57 am

      Did you ever get an update?

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