Denver approves first license for medicinal marijuana research

The license has been issued for MedPharm, which received a state license to operate in 2018.

Marijuana hangs to cure at Verde Natural's Northeast Park Hill grow facility. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Marijuana hangs to cure at Verde Natural's Northeast Park Hill grow facility. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

The city’s Excise and Licenses department has approved the first research and development license for medicinal marijuana studies in Denver.

The department confirmed a medicinal marijuana research and development license was issued on Wednesday to MedPharm, whose facilities are located in the Stapleton neighborhood. The city’s licensing department said this license allows businesses to grow, cultivate, possess, manufacture and transfer marijuana for research purposes within the city and county limits.

The license was issued just two months after City Council approved the new license type. Licensing department spokesperson Eric Escudero said there haven’t been any additional applications for the research license.

“The possibilities are endless with the first of hopefully many medical marijuana research and development licenses issued in Denver,” Excise and Licenses Executive Director Ashley Kilroy said in a statement. “Our hope is that this new license type will lead to effective treatments for cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other debilitating diseases so the full promise of legalized marijuana can be fulfilled.”

MedPharm CEO Albert Gutierrez, who grew up in Denver’s Northside, said their first project will explore marijuana’s impact on dementia conditions. He said the license helps legitimize both research on marijuana and the medicinal properties of the plant itself. The license means they will be able to run clinical trials.

“A lot of people still think cannabis is just for stoners, and that’s not true,” Gutierrez said. “We see a lot of medicinal value in the plant. We need to be able to say that this plant does in fact help with these conditions.”

MedPharm was the first company in the state to get a license for marijuana research in 2018, but because Denver had not yet authorized such a license, their research was limited.

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