If you're at least 21 and want to legally work for any Colorado business that deals with marijuana products then you need to go through the process of getting badged first, before you can start working. And luckily for you, I just went through the application process, so I can tell you exactly what to expect.
And once you do have your badge, you're going to be 10 times more appealing to all those dispensaries you've been applying to, so go through this process ASAP!
FILL OUT YOUR APPLICATION
The first thing you're going to want to do is fill out THIS APPLICATION, from top to bottom, so that it's easy to quickly run you through the process, when you arrive at the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) Headquarters. They ask for pretty basic information but, if you have any questions, give the MED office a call (at this number 303-205-8421), and they will gladly help you out. Most people have questions about what needs to be listed on their arrest record, since you're about to go through an extensive background check, and you don't want to get caught withholding any information. Trust me; honesty is the best policy here, and having an old arrest on your record isn't going to keep you from being badged. They just want ensure that everyone who has one of these badges around their neck is someone with good morals, and a liar just isn't going to cut it.
WHO ARE YOU AND WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
You'll also want to make sure that you have a photo ID on you, so that you can prove you are who you say you are, on paper. And, while this may be obvious to many, you have to be a Colorado resident in order to get your badge, so hopefully the ID you're toting around is a Colorado driver's license. Why? Because that will not only identify who you are, but it will also serve as your proof of residency. Otherwise you're going to want to also bring in a pay stub or housing paperwork that lists your name and Colorado address, to prove your residency, since banking statements won't be accepted.
OK, so you have your filled-out application and ID/proof of residency in your pocket, but let's not forget the application fee of $150! So, head to the ATM or write out a check or money order, because you need EXACT CHANGE to make this work. Sure, you can ask other people in the waiting room for change, but that just slows down the process even more. Now, if you opt to skip the cash route, just be sure to make your check or money order out to Colorado Department of Revenue (DOR).
HEAD TO DENVER (Or Give the Colorado Springs, Grand Junction, or Longmont Office a Call)
Now, you're going to want to grab your filled-out application, ID, proof of residency and money, and get yourself to the Marijuana Enforcement Division at 455 Sherman Street, Suite 390, Denver, CO 80203. Their hours are 8 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. Now, the building does offer a free parking garage for visitors, but you'll have to move your car every 2 hours and may have a hard time parking in the garage, since it has such tight quarters. But regardless of where you park, you're going to want to get there around 8 AM and sign in as soon as they'll let you, because people are served on a first-come, first-served basis, based on that sign in sheet. And luckily for you, the days of the whole "lottery" deal and stamps are long gone, but you have to get here early enough to ensure you are seen, because you have a bit of waiting ahead of you. And it looks like now you can call one of the following offices and set up an appointment at these numbers: (719) 570-5622 for Colorado Springs, (970) 248-7181 for Grand Junction, or (303) 866-2274 for the Longmont office. Things are getting better; you don't have to drive as far and you'll be seen quicker!
HAVE A SEAT
And now you wait… Once you're signed in, all you do is have a seat in one of their waiting rooms (or out in the hallway) and wait for them to call your name. I actually arrived around 8:45 AM on a Monday (seems like one of the busier days) and didn't have my name called until 11:15 AM, so plan on waiting a while. In fact, plan on this process taking up most of your day, just so you don't have to leave for some prior engagement before you're finished. And once you get out of your car, you're going to want to make a mental note as to when you need to move your car, in order to avoid a pesky ticket. I moved my car twice, to be safe, and there always seems to be at least one spot open on that block, or in the parking garage. In fact, I moved my car once before I actually got to hand in my paperwork, so pay attention to the time.
HAND IN YOUR PAPERWORK
Once your name is called, you'll head to the front desk and hand them your application, money and identification. They will look over your application and have you fill in any information you left out, let you know if you have everything you need, and then they'll start copying your information and get it into the system. Like I mentioned above, it's best to call ahead of time to be sure that you have everything, because I saw quite a few people who had to leave and get other paperwork, before they could be processed.
IS THIS SEAT TAKEN?
But soon after that step is taken care of, you will be instructed to go wash your hands down the hallway, and then have a seat and wait for your name to be called again. And, if you're heading to the bathroom to wash your hands, the door you want to attempt to open doesn't have a door knob. Quite a few of us (myself included) attempted to turn the knob of a locked door and then ended up waiting in the hallway for a while, because we thought someone was in there. The bathroom signage is a little confusing so, if you run into this issue, go ahead and push the door without the knob and you're in! From what I overheard in the office, they are conducting some kind of lower-level background check on all the information you entered on your application, which is why it will be about an hour before they call your name the second time. They just want to ensure that all the information you provided them with on paper is legit, and that you're eligible to be badged, before they put you through the finals steps.
But don't show up at the office between noon to one, because all the employees leave for lunch and there's no one there to process your application. I actually had to wait until after the MED's lunch break before my name was called the second time, but luckily I met a couple cool people who smoked me up at their apartment, while were waiting for the employees to return. And oddly enough, someone had pizza delivered directly to the waiting room while we were there. Now, that's a stereotypical stoner move, which was kind of funny, but you'll be asked to eat it outside the office building if you go this route.
And once everyone comes back from lunch, and your name is called a second time, you'll be taken into a side room, with one of the happiest employees in the office. At this point, I believe your initial background check came back with good results, and it's time for you to have a seat in front of a camera. While sitting, you'll be informed that in two years, when you need to renew your badge, you'll be mailed an information packet that you need to fill out and mail back, instead of having to go through this process again every two years, which is why you're asked to tell them when you move. Then the employee will try their best to get you to smile big for your picture, and then hand you your green Marijuana Enforcement Division Licensee lanyard, while your name and picture are being printed onto your badge. And once you approve the spelling of your name on your badge, you'll move over to the digital fingerprinting machine. All of your fingerprints will be taken in order for them to put you through one last background check, to ensure that you didn't steal anyone's identity.
But as soon as your fingerprints are taken, you will be lead into the waiting room in the back, where you will sign your name on a piece of paper and write your address on an envelope, to finalize the process. And if you're paying close attention, you'll notice that the envelope you're filling out already contains your badge and acceptance letter. You just fill out the address for them to avoid it being sent to the wrong place, and then they only mail it to you if you pass the background checks. Now, you won't get your badge right away, because you still have to pass the fingerprint-based background check, but you should have it mailed to you within a week (it took 5 days for me), as long as there are no issues with your background check. But they will send you home with a payment receipt, which includes your future license number, so it should be easy for them to check the status for you, if it's taking too long.
THE NIGHTMARE IS OVER
And that's it… you're done… head home!
I'm happy to announce that you no longer have to show up at the MED office 4 to 6 times before you'll make it through the application process. There are no longer any lotteries or stamps given out; they must have streamlined the process for you! And as long as you get there first thing in the morning and your paperwork is filled out correctly, you can be sure that you'll get through the process in one day. Like I said, I got there at 8:45 AM, I was called to hand in my application by 11:15 AM, and then I finished the whole process by 1:20 PM, and that was on a busy Monday. Just be sure that you DO NOT show up to the MED office after 2:30 PM, because that's their cutoff point, when they no longer start new applicants through the process. There are probably already quite a few people ahead of you, and the employees need to get all those applicants through the process before 5 PM, so they can go home.
And regardless of what the employees tell you in person or on the phone, they DO still make appointments in Denver, for special cases. I was told that they don't, but about 7 people came in at once, with an appointment, and were able to skip in front of everyone else. But, if you live pretty far from Denver, I'd just call one of the other offices listed above and skip the waiting in line crap. Otherwise, you'll just want to set aside half a day for this and get there early.
I hope this helps lessen your fears of getting badged, and perhaps the next Wookwok Wakening will contain stories of my first day on the job, as a legal courier of marijuana products. Until then! 😉