County commissioners issue pause on new cannabis licenses


Collegian | Falyn Sebastian

(Graphic Illustration by Falyn Sebastian | The Collegian)

Hayden Hawley, Cannabis Director

The Larimer County Board of County Commissioners voted to pause its issuance of new cannabis business licenses in unincorporated Larimer County until early next year.

The board decided unanimously in a meeting last week to issue a moratorium on any new cannabis cultivation facility or dispensary opening until Jan. 15, 2023.


The current resolution allows for only two of each type of license, including retail and cultivation, in the unincorporated area, with both licenses already issued. Officials referred to the possibility that one of those licenses “may become available soon.”

“Rather than get in a position of responding and this process of issuing a license before we had the chance to look at the resolution in a more comprehensive way, they decided it would make sense to put a pause on it,” said Lesli Ellis, Larimer County community development director. “We anticipate taking a look at these regulations and rules later on in the year, and it would be potentially an opportunity to look at the whole process for how licenses get issued.”

The current unincorporated county resolution differs from the City of Fort Collins’ in a few ways: While the City has 12 licensed retail cultivations and 11 stores, the unincorporated area allows only two of each. Fort Collins City Council voted last year to allow dispensaries to extend their hours to midnight, though businesses’ hours outside of city limits are still restricted to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“We just haven’t had that conversation in a while communitywide. … It wasn’t any kind of statement in any kind of way.” -Kristin Stephens, Board of County Commissioners chair

The county board will hold public meetings sometime in the coming months to discuss possible changes to the ordinance. This could affect hours, the process for application or even, with enough community interest, create a third available license in a category.

Despite the current laws being almost a decade old, there haven’t been any complaints from business owners or their neighbors about the current process or the regulations as they stand, according to Board of County Commissioners Chair Kristin Stephens.

“(This is) frankly to see: Do we have enough licenses for our county; what are other counties doing in the space; do we want more licenses in the county; do we want to maintain them,” Stephens said. “We just haven’t had that conversation in a while communitywide. … It wasn’t any kind of statement in any kind of way.”

The Board of County Commissioners has been the cannabis licensing authority for unincorporated Larimer County since 2013.

The two dispensaries that currently hold licenses in unincorporated Larimer County are Flower Power Botanicals and Green Dragon, which bought out Choice Organics’ retail and cultivation license late last year.

A Flower Power Botanicals budtender said he was not aware of any plans to give up or transfer their license anytime soon.

Green Dragon could not be reached for comment.

As far as who might be eligible for licenses once the moratorium ends, Ellis said they hope to make the process of acquiring one clearer and less dependent on a first-come, first-served model, emphasizing that this is not about picking “winners and losers.”

Reach Hayden Hawley at or on Twitter @hateonhawley.