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Denver, Colorado, Addresses Tenfold Increase in Marijuana Licensing Applications and Public Records Requests

City and County implements new licensing process and boosts efficiencies with accessible data

The Mile-High City of Denver, located in Denver County, is nestled in the South Platte River Valley, just east of the Rocky Mountains. Known for its mountainous beauty and proximity to world-class skiing, Denver’s geographical location and links to major transportation systems have made it one of the country’s most important trading centers.


When the Department of Excise and Licenses (EXL) implemented the City’s Medical Marijuana Code in 2010, it was presented with a new, complex challenge: how to organize, access and manage a new licensure process with significant volumes and tight timelines.

But it wasn’t until the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2012 that industry demands forced the City and County of Denver, along with other Colorado jurisdictions, to reexamine how it had been managing medical marijuana operations and how to combat greater challenges with managing recreational marijuana operations.


As an Accela customer since 2009, EXL had already automated licensing processes for alcohol and other regulatory activities within the City and County, so it collaborated with Accela and partner TruePoint Solutions to extend its solution for marijuana licensing. The group modeled much of its marijuana licensing process on liquor licensing, configuring for the nuances of EXL’s seven types of marijuana licenses.

Among Accela’s key timesaving functionality, email notification has greatly enhanced customer communications about license expiration, renewals and inspection results. Likewise, the solution streamlines the marijuana licensing process by centralizing all information in a single system — versus separate databases and applications — for faster and more accurate reporting. Also, data sharing has improved transparency and efficiency by allowing the Department to open its records to other departments and agencies.


After initially struggling to coordinate a new licensure process, EXL has implemented a successful cross-agency strategy for managing legalized marijuana permits. By sharing application information online, staff can save time and respond twice as fast to public record requests and new applications, compared to when it first began accepting retail marijuana applications in 2013.

Looking ahead, EXL has estimated conservative savings of $3.5 million over five years by using Accela to automate, streamline and speed up its various licensing processes.

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