Nearly 70 percent of the 159 medical marijuana stores applying to sell recreational pot are located in Denver, according to the latest numbers from the Department of Revenue.
Denver is currently home to more than 40 percent of the state's medical marijuana shops and only existing dispensaries are allowed to convert to recreational sales in the first year.
Many cities have enacted bans or moratoriums on recreational pot.
"Since we are the first ones out of the chute, we will be trying to solve the problems," Denver City Councilman Chris Nevitt said. "And other people can learn from us. But that’s OK, we are comfortable with that leadership position."
But critics say Denver should have a cap on the number of stores.
"It’s just been whoever wants to open a shop, hang your shingle,” Gina Carbone, with Smart Colorado, a group opposing widespread retail shops said.
Carbone is especially concerned about what impact exposure to so many marijuana businesses will have on children.
In Denver, 111 retail stores have applied to sell recreational pot, followed by:
- Clear Creek County with six pending applications: Three in Idaho Springs and one each for Dumont, Empire and Georgetown
- Jefferson and Adams County each have five pending applications scattered throughout Northglenn, Edgewater and Wheat Ridge
- Mountain towns will be early players: Breckenridge and Telluride have three each while Steamboat Springs has two.
Colorado Springs has the second most dispensaries in the state but city officials decided to not permit recreational shops.
These numbers are for the state applications as marijuana stores must be dual-licensed in Colorado, which means that local governments must also approve the shops.
It's not clear how many of these stores will have the licenses they need to open their doors on January 1st.