Boulder officials have rejected more than one-third of the applications from people seeking to run medical marijuana dispensaries or growing operations in the city, slowing the pace of what once was seen as a Wild West-style rush for riches.
Ten months after the initial 119 business-license applications were turned in by Boulder's November deadline -- set when the City Council last year approved sweeping new regulations for the budding industry -- 40 medical marijuana companies have licenses to operate.
So far, 41 of those 119 applications, from existing businesses that had opened prior to adoption of the new rules, have been rejected for reasons that include zoning problems, incomplete paperwork and -- in about half of the cases -- the sometimes extensive criminal records of owners, operators and investors.
City officials say the vast majority of the 38 applications that remain in their queue have passed their initial background checks and are well on their way to being awarded business licenses.
Boulder already may be running out of room for medical-marijuana businesses.
In mapping out the 82 medical-marijuana growing facilities and dispensaries now licensed in Boulder, city officials say even relatively loose permanent regulations would mean the industry has nearly reached its saturation point.
The city expects to take up permanent regulations in February and March.
In November, the City Council enacted emergency rules outlining where dispensaries can operate, requiring new shops to stay at least 500 feet away from areas with three or more existing marijuana businesses, and 500 feet away from schools and day-care centers.
"It appears that most areas in the city's three major activity centers (University Hill, Boulder Valley Regional Center and downtown Boulder) are approaching saturation," a city memo reads. "North Boulder and industrial areas in the eastern portion of the city have also seen an increase in the number of applications and are nearing saturation."