The 20 applicants approved Tuesday and any others approved for priority certification will be able to submit their marijuana license applications beginning April 17, though the CCC cannot issue licenses until June 1.
Priority certification — which will allow those entities approved to leapfrog towards the front of the line when the CCC begins issuing licenses — is open to registered marijuana dispensaries (RMDs) and those eligible through the CCC’s economic empowerment program, which is intended to assist people disproportionately affected by marijuana prohibition.
None of the 20 businesses approved for priority review Tuesday applied through the economic empowerment program. The process for economic empowerment applicants is more complex and takes longer for the CCC staff to review, Hoffman said.
“Really, the RMD applicants only have to show us that they have provisional or final certification, whereas we’re asking for the economic empowerment candidates to document that three of the six criteria are met,” he said.
Applications for priority review must be finalized and submitted to the CCC by the end of the day Sunday. Economic empowerment applicants who submit insufficient information will be given five business days to provide the missing documentation, Hoffman said.
“Our philosophy and intent is to help people get those applications completed. We’re not rejecting applications because they’re not complete, we’re going back and saying, ‘you need to provide this information,'” he said. “Our objective here is to try to help as many people as are appropriately qualified to get certified for priority application standing.”
Executive Director Shawn Collins said he expects to bring a bundle of economic empowerment applicants to the commission for approval next Tuesday. As of 8 p.m. Monday, registered marijuana dispensary companies had completed and submitted to the CCC 55 applications for priority review and economic empowerment applicants had completed and submitted 26 applications, Collins said.
Commissioner Shaleen Title, Hoffman and Collins highlighted Tuesday that the RMDs approved for priority review on Tuesday will not have a leg up on other RMDs and economic empowerment applicants approved next week.
“Anybody that gets certified for priority application during this two-week window is in the same position and then what we’re going to do is alternate back and forth between RMDs and economic empowerment,” Hoffman said. “So that fact that we approved 20 RMDs first and haven’t done economic empowerment really is irrelevant once the April 17 application window opens.”
Title tweeted Tuesday that “there is no benefit whatsoever to being approved today as opposed to at our next meeting.”
Businesses approved now for priority review will not necessarily be the first businesses to be licensed by the CCC. Hoffman said some of the RMDs approved for priority review Tuesday plan to operate in cities or towns that have either banned recreational marijuana businesses or have put a temporary freeze in place. Those businesses can be certified for priority review, but cannot yet seek a license.
“All this means is that they have the ability to jump to the front of the queue when they’re applying, if they receive their certification,” he said. “Those applicants that get priority certification but are in cities that have, let’s say, a moratorium in place, they can’t apply. But when and if that moratorium is lifted and they can apply and satisfy all the municipal requirements, they’ll jump to the front of the queue.”