By: Nabil Rodriguez, Esq.
Mayor Michael Hancock today announced a “Stay-At-Home” Order (the “Order”) requiring all individuals in the City and County of Denver to shelter in place and stay at home, as the confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to climb across the U.S. The Order initially excluded cannabis businesses and liquor stores from the “Essential Businesses” list, but that was reversed only three hours later after
crowds inundated local liquor stores and dispensaries in panicked response.
Effective Tuesday March 24, 2020, at 5:00 P.M., the Order prohibits “
[a]ll public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household or living unit…” The Order additionally requires all businesses to cease activities at facilities located within Denver, except “Minimum Basic Operations.” Similar to our recent discussion of the Shelter In Place Order in San Francisco (see here), the order does create an exception for certain “Essential Businesses” to continue operations.
The order defines “Essential Businesses” as healthcare operations, essential government functions, grocery stores, businesses that provide shelter and social services, media services, gas stations, financial institutions, and several others. For a full list, please see
here for the original signed Order.
Pursuant to the original Order, medical marijuana businesses were deemed essential, but adult-use recreational marijuana businesses were explicitly left out.
As of this afternoon, however, the Mayor’s Office website has indicated that the Order has been updated with the following changes: All marijuana stores with extreme physical distancing in place will be exempt Liquor stores with extreme physical distancing in place will be exempt All construction operations and projects will be exempt
This Order from Mayor Hancock follows a recent Executive Order issued by Colorado Governor Jared Polis ordering Colorado employers to reduce in-person workforces by at least 50% due to the presence of COVID-19 in the state. The Denver Order re-emphasizes the health guidelines issued by the World Health Organization instructing individuals to limit interaction with others to slow down the spread of the virus and remains effective through April 10, 2020, unless extended, rescinded, or otherwise amended by the Executive Director of the Department of Public Health.
During his press conference discussing the Order, Mayor Hancock emphasized that because the nation does not have sufficient testing available to implement a nationwide “test and isolate” strategy in place, local governments, often Governors and Mayors, are left contemplating these extreme shelter orders. As the most densely populated City and County in the state, the Mayor felt it was necessary for Denver to take the additional steps outlined in the Order to protect the public health and safety of Coloradans.
With regulatory changes happening daily (in this case hourly) in response to a global health crisis, staying on top of these developments affecting the current regulatory landscape has become more critical than ever. Please, if you have any questions with regard to adapting your business practices to compliance through this pandemic,
contact our Cannabis Law Group.