Colorado Marijuana News
A Tuesday meeting between the Pitkin County Board of Health and county health officials highlighted the issues and concerns they have associated with the legalization of recreational marijuana.
It also highlighted how little some board members and health officials understand the amount of work and education already done at the Valley Marijuana Council meetings spearheaded by Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo.Learn more »
A local marijuana seller is eyeing the Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall for recreational pot sales, according to the Aspen City Clerk’s Office.
Green Dragon, which sells medical and recreational marijuana products in a space at 400 E. Hyman Ave. that sits below street level, is planning to move its recreational operation into the first floor of 409 E. Hyman Ave., City Clerk Linda Manning said Thursday.Learn more »
Even though recreational marijuana has been available in Aspen for more than five months, many hotel and condominium owners are still confused on where visitors can smoke pot.
That was one of several concerns brought up Tuesday at the Limelight Hotel as the Aspen Chamber Resort Association and the Valley Medical Council put on a panel discussion to examine issues and concerns members of the hospitality industry have involving the inception of recreational marijuana into the Aspen community.Learn more »
EAGLE COUNTY — The Vail Valley’s second retail marijuana shop opens Monday. There will be more in the coming months.
Eagle’s Sweet Leaf Pioneer has been open since spring, and another shop is planned. While every other town in the valley has either banned or delayed licensing for new retail shops, a number of shops are planned for Edwards and Eagle-Vail, both in unincorporated Eagle County.Learn more »
Driving high questioned on busy day in CongressLearn more »
After nearly one year in development, the Chronic Lodge website — which seeks to match marijuana users with pot-friendly vacation units in Colorado and other places where the drug is legal — is expected to launch soon.
Chronic Lodge is the brainchild of longtime Aspen resident Joe Hope and his partner in the project, Brenden Petersen, of Carbondale. Hope said work is underway to make the website, at www.chroniclodge.com, fully functional for property owners with listings and those who want to rent homes, condos and apartments where they won’t be bothered for using marijuana.Learn more »
The city of Aspen is expecting two recreational marijuana license applications by September, and one shop owner believes additional interest from Front Range investors is imminent when the market opens to competition in October.
Aspen medical dispensaries Alternative Medical Solutions and Leaf Aspen are currently in the application process for converting to recreational, and a hearing is expected before the Local Licensing Authority on Sep. 2. Garrett Patrick, owner of Stash in the Aspen Business Center, also has said he has interest in opening a recreational shop in Aspen, but he would have to wait until October to apply. With approval, shop owners would have to wait a minimum of 45 days to convert.Learn more »
Reader LJ Erspamer, a longtime Aspen resident who’s sat on numerous boards, including Planning and Zoning, took quite the issue with last week’s editorial in support of marijuana clubs in Aspen.
Erspamer’s fiery letter to the editor, published in Monday’s Aspen Times, questioned the logic behind this paper’s rationale for advocating pot clubs.Learn more »
After rethinking prior direction that would have barred non-local recreational marijuana-shop owners from opening in Aspen until 2015, the Aspen City Council decided Monday that it wants to allow free-market competition.
However, during the meeting, Councilman Dwayne Romero said he would like the city to explore community need when considering recreational marijuana applications. This way Aspen won’t end up with an excessive number of pot shops. The Local License Authority, which reviews liquor and marijuana applications, should measure community need versus approval — or the idea should at least be considered, Romero argued.Learn more »
On July 9, Pitkin County commissioners adopted new medical marijuana licensing regulations into the county code. Before the adoption, Kerry Weber, a certified yoga instructor and manager at Aspen Roaring Fork Wellness in Basalt, asked the board to reconsider a section addressing facilities requirements.
Weber said she’s concerned about the regulation restricting the sales of any products other than marijuana or marijuana-infused products at a medical pot dispensary. The same regulation applies toward recreational marijuana sales in the county. In other words, the county forbids the sale of paraphernalia, T-shirts and other retail items at medical and recreational marijuana stores.Learn more »
After a slow start, the marijuana industry appears to be budding in the midvalley.
A family in Missouri Heights has applied to build a marijuana cultivation facility on secluded property located off Upper Cattle Creek Drive. The Roaring Fork Regional Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously July 3 to recommend approval. The Eagle County commissioners will review the application Tuesday at a hearing in El Jebel.Learn more »
The Grand County commissioners decided to table a proposal to rezone the former Highland Lumber building on U.S. Highway 40 in Tabernash, which might become a medical-marijuana grow facility.
Wells Fargo Bank took ownership of the 11-acre parcel and building after foreclosing on the owner.Learn more »
Grand County Planning Commission voted four to two against issuing a special use permit for a proposed marijuana grow facility near Granby.
The Department of Planning and Zoning recommended the commission approve the permit.Learn more »
The lines started forming during the week of the Food & Wine Classic and haven’t slowed down since then.
Aspen’s recreational marijuana shops have been booming since the tourist season kicked into high gear in June. According to Hunter Beaudreau, an employee at Green Dragon Aspen, recreational sales have at least doubled in the past month.Learn more »
The Grand County commissioners will conduct a public hearing regarding a special use permit for a marijuana cultivation facility near Granby.
The board will consider the application on Tuesday, July 22, in the Grand County Administration Building in Hot Sulphur Springs.Learn more »
VAIL — While resort towns elsewhere were quick to jump into retail marijuana sales, Vail continues its wait-and-see approach.
The Vail Town Council Tuesday unanimously passed on first reading an ordinance that will extend the town’s current moratorium on retail marijuana sales in town. The town had been working through the spring on perhaps making a final decision on whether or not to ban retail sales in town, facing a self-imposed July 31 deadline.Learn more »
People looking to purchase marijuana in Silverthorne after sundown are now in luck.
On Wednesday night, the Silverthorne Town Council unanimously approved an ordinance extending the hours of operation at retail marijuana shops. Shops can now operate from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Prior town code required them to lock up by 7 p.m.Learn more »
VAIL — The Vail town council voted unanimously to extend its temporary ban on retail marijuana for another year in order to gather more information and observe other towns such as Aspen, who have legalized retail sales.
The town had set a self-imposed July 31 deadline to make a decision on retail sales, but council members said the past year has raised too many questions, with not enough time to answer all of them.Learn more »
VAIL — A public hearing has been scheduled during the Tuesday, June 17 Vail Town Council meeting to continue discussions regarding policy options on the topic of retail marijuana sales. The item is listed sixth on the meeting agenda, which begins at 6 p.m. in the Vail Town Council Chambers.
The Vail Town Council will be reviewing a list of nearly 60 questions and issues forwarded by members of a 16-member working group that has been convened by the town to explore the topic. Representing various organizations throughout the community, the working group has met twice to help shape the public policy discussion.Learn more »
EAGLE COUNTY — A longtime local business family landed one of Eagle County’s rare retail marijuana licenses.
Jim and Kristin Comerford will add The Vail Bud Brewery to their roster of local businesses, which includes Subway sandwich shops, Vail’s Qdoba Mexican Grill and a real estate development company. They’ll partner with another local dispensary owner, Dave and Dieneka Manzanares of Sweet Leaf Pioneer in Eagle.Learn more »
AVON — Town Council members took the first step toward banning retail marijuana sales and grow operations at the April 22 meeting, passing on first reading an ordinance that would ban retail and grow operations in town.
The council voted 6-1 for the ban, with council member Jake Wolf casting the lone dissenting vote. In casting his vote, Wolf noted, as he has in the past, that more than 70 percent of town voters in 2012 voted to approve Amendment 64, the state constitutional amendment that legalized the possession and consumption of marijuana by people 21 and older.Learn more »
EAGLE-VAIL — Greg Honan thinks he might be blazing a new trail in the medical marijuana business. Stephan Shearin hopes he’s right.
Honan is the owner of the Herbal Elements medical marijuana dispensary in Eagle-Vail. He recently partnered with Tranzbyte, a company specializing in the technology of marijuana, to put the first ZaZZZ vending machine in the dispensary.Learn more »
TABERNASH — Agritourism is new a way to experience Colorado’s unique heritage, and now a Grand County group is trying to combine it with another of the state’s fascinations – legalized marijuana.
“We have fabulous marijuana at this altitude,” said Susan Kuglitsch, of Tabernash, a proponent of cannabis agritourism in Grand County. “That secret will get out quick. We’d like to (promote enjoying) it responsibly in a nice family setting.”Learn more »
DENVER — A Colorado proposal to widen a ban on certain types of edible marijuana advanced Thursday in the state House amid concerns that it could be too broad.
What lawmakers are trying to prevent is accidental ingestion by children who can’t tell the difference between a regular cookie or gummy bear and the kinds infused with cannabis. Lawmakers also worry that officials won’t be able to know when students have marijuana at school when the drug is in the form of an edible.Learn more »
DENVER — Authorities say a Wyoming college student who jumped to his death from a Denver hotel balcony ate more than the recommended serving of a marijuana cookie.
Police reports released Thursday said 19-year-old Levy Thamba Pongi consumed a little more than one cookie that his friend purchased from a pot shop.Learn more »
Medical marijuana ban fails in town of Red CliffApril 2, 2014 —
RED CLIFF — Voters here Tuesday retained two town council members and rejected a proposed ban on medical marijuana operations.
Anuschka Bales and Tom Henderson, both current board members, were both elected to four-year terms. But the election still leaves the seven-member board short two people. Town clerk Barb Smith said the town will post the vacancies, with a 30-day period for interested people to apply for the board positions.
With just two people running for four seats, the town might have canceled the spring election, except for a resident-supported ballot measure that would have banned medical marijuana operations. There are no such businesses in town now, and mayor Scott Burgess said there are no pending applications, either.
But the town council last year approved regulations for retail marijuana operations, which prompted a group of town residents to sponsor both the medical marijuana ban ballot measure and a possible fall ballot measure to ban retail operations.
Burgess said the residents couldn’t put both measures on the April municipal election ballot due to language in Amendment 64, the 2012 state constitutional amendment that legalized the possession, growing and retail sale of marijuana for recreation purposes. According to the amendment, communities can only vote to ban retail sales and growing operations in the November general election of even-numbered years.
Town voters in 2012 voted for Amendment 64 by a wide margin — Burgess said roughly 75 percent of voters cast ballots in favor of the measure. Tuesday’s vote against the ban wasn’t that decisive, but the margin of defeat was still in the 60 percent range.
Diana Cisneros, a life-long town resident who helped circulate petitions to put the medical ban on Tuesday’s ballot, said she was disappointed in the outcome.
“I worked long and hard on it,” she said. “I guess other people didn’t agree.”
New pot issues on NORML’s front burner for Aspen conferenceApril 1, 2014 —
Different issues will be on the front burner when the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws returns to Aspen for a legal seminar in May.
NORML has held a spring conference in Aspen for about 12 consecutive years. It’s not ready to abandon the town now that marijuana has been legalized for adults in Colorado, said Executive Director Allen St. Pierre.
“In Colorado, the discussion is a forward-looking one,” he said.
NORML’s Aspen conference will be held at The Gant May 29 through 31. Many of the topics have special relevance in a state with legal marijuana — such as the science and law surrounding driving under the influence of cannabis; challenging profile stops of drivers by law enforcement officials; and legal marijuana and employment issues, according to the program.
Legalization has opened a whole new world of issues for the legal seminars. This year’s topics are geared toward “lawyers at the vanguard of the new legal system,” St. Pierre said.
Most seminars in the past have focused on topics designed to help lawyers minimize the legal consequences for clients charged with marijuana law violations.
“Most of the time you’re a criminal defense lawyer, your client loses,” St. Pierre said.
Now, marijuana is not only legal in Colorado, but it’s a major revenue generator, he noted. Sales tax collections were higher than anticipated during the first two months of legal sales.
Issues have popped up in the past two or three years — with a growing number of states approving medical marijuana sales, and Colorado and Washington voters approving retail marijuana sales — that NORML staff couldn’t have imagined in the prior three decades, St. Pierre said.
NORML’s Aspen legal seminar isn’t just drawing interest from Colorado attorneys dealing with new issues raised by legalization. There is significant interest from lawyers in “states that are flipping” or moving from prohibitions on all sales to allowing sales of medical marijuana, according to St. Pierre. Several New England states — Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut — are moving to legalizing medical marijuana. Attorneys see a need to get up to speed on topics that the Aspen seminar is delving into, he said.
Advance reservations are up about 30 percent over last year for the Aspen legal seminar, St. Pierre said. He anticipates final reservations to be about 25 to 30 percent higher than last year. About 130 to 140 participants and NORML staff will be attending.
Some of the proprietors of Aspen’s recreational pot shops have extended invitations to NOMRL to have seminar attendees make an official visit, according to St. Pierre. It’s sort of like a “chamber of commerce” pitch to what’s seen as a group of core customers, he said.
Social events include a benefit dinner at the home of Gerry Goldstein, a part-time Aspen resident and a speaker at the seminar, and a cookout at Hunter S. Thompson’s Owl Farm. Thompson was a NORML supporter and member of its advisory board since 1973 until he died in 2005.
NORML attendees have never been shy about indulging their passions at past seminars, St. Pierre said, but it will be a cause for celebration this year to do it legally. It won’t be lost on some of the attending attorneys that they are indulging in a legal activity while some of their clients are “rotting in cages” after convictions of non-violent marijuana laws in other states, he said.
NORML founder and legal counsel Keith Stroup wrote an email urging the organization’s supporters to attend the Aspen Legal Seminar to learn about the new issues and have fun.
“The 2014 Aspen seminar offers those from out-of-state a wonderful opportunity to spend some time with like-minded friends and colleagues from around the country in a beautiful state that has fully legalized marijuana for all adults, and to witness first-hand the legal dispensaries, several of which are located in Aspen itself,” Stroup wrote. “It is a glimpse into the future of all of America in one of the most picturesque locations in the country.”
More information, along with a link to the online registration, is available at http://norml.org/about/events/aspen-legal-seminar.
County receives marijuana license applicationsMarch 25, 2014 —
EAGLE COUNTY — At the Sweet Leaf Pioneer medical marijuana dispensary in Eagle, Dieneka Manzanares gets calls and visitors just about every day. Many are tourists, looking to buy legal marijuana while on vacation to the Vail Valley. Right now, she has to turn them all away.
Those calls and visits are familiar to Murphy Murray, the co-owner and general manager of the Tree Line dispensary in Eagle-Vail.
Right now, only people who have doctor-issued cards can buy anything from Sweet Leaf, Tree Line or any of the other dispensaries in the valley. Sweet Leaf, which has its town of Eagle approval and is waiting for its state license, may be the first in the valley to open its doors to retail customers, perhaps as soon as April 20. Meanwhile, the process for the other dispensaries in the valley — all of which are located in unincorporated Eagle County — is proceeding slowly. Murray said it could realistically be late spring or early summer before that shop opens its retail operation.
While several shops in Denver and elsewhere opened Jan. 1 for retail marijuana sales, Eagle County finalized its marijuana regulations late last year. Those regulations require a county license in addition to one issued by the state. The county also put a limit of eight licenses for the entire county — six in the Eagle River Valley, and two for the Basalt-El Jebel area. Until recently, no one had applied for any of those licenses.
With an April 1 deadline looming for existing dispensaries to apply, Tree Line and one other dispensary have recently filed applications — along with the $2,000 application fee. County planner Scot Hunn expects more applications to come by next week, but here’s where the story gets, and remains, complicated.
Right now, dispensaries that want to sell recreational marijuana are given preference in both the county’s and state’s licensing process. That means a dispensary in “good standing” with the county and state will be first in line for a retail license. Hunn said three of the county’s five dispensaries are in good standing right now. Hunn said the other two aren’t in compliance primarily because of building code problems with their location. Those dispensaries are making “good faith” efforts to straighten out their standing.
What that means is that the doors are open to others who want into the retail marijuana business. But that door isn’t going to open until at least July 1, when the preference for medical operations is lifted.
Hunn said he and other county officials are now trying to find the most equitable way for those prospective operators to apply for a very limited number of licenses. That method could be as simple as a drawing between those with qualified applications.
Those operators will be behind the dispensaries in getting open. But even existing dispensaries have a lot of work to do. Among the reasons the county has a separate license application is the desire to ensure retail operators meet a number of building-code requirements. In a building with other tenants, those requirements are going to include proper ventilation so the odors associated with growing and harvesting weed don’t infiltrate other units.
At both Sweet Leaf and Tree Line, prospective retail space has been rented for some time, waiting for final regulations and requirements. And, of course, holding that space has required paying rent for square footage that won’t start paying for itself for at least four months after all the licenses have been issued.
“We can’t put a seed in a pot for recreational until we have our licenses,” Murray said.
Sweet Leaf at first will operate under the state’s “70/30” rule, meaning that just 30 percent of a dispensary’s product can be diverted to retail sales until Oct. 1. Tree Line will have dedicated retail product, but again, can’t start to grow until all its licenses are in place.
No matter how a retail operation gets its product, Murri said she expects demand to far outstrip supply for the foreseeable future.
“We’re seeing demand for as much as a couple of pounds a day,” Manzanares said. That’s quite a lot in a business where transactions are often done in fractions of an ounce.
Murri said even as Tree Line has expanded its inventory on the dispensary side, every ounce of new product is snapped up quickly.
Meanwhile, people keep calling and knocking on the door, asking for product that isn’t yet available.
Granby medical workers unknowingly ingest THC in holiday treatsMarch 24, 2014 —
GRANBY — A batch of drug-laced Chex-Mix delivered to Middle Park Medical Center staff around Christmastime has tested positive for Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical compound found in marijuana, according to Granby Police Chief Bill Housley.
Though the department knows who delivered the treats and has transferred the case to the District Attorney’s Office for possible prosecution, Housley said the District Attorney’s Office is inclined not to prosecute the case due to a lack of intent to deliver the THC-laced treats to the hospital staff.
“They are having a hard time proving that she deliberately delivered the treats,” Housley said.
The Sky-Hi place three calls to the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for comment on this case, but they were not returned.
According to Housley, the treats were delivered by a person who made two batches of the treats, one without the THC, originally intended for the hospital staff, and one with THC, intended for friends “who would appreciate the enhanced pleasurable effects,” he said.
“Lo and behold, she dropped the wrong one off before going to the medical center,” Housley said.
Neither party who received the treats was happy, according to Housley. Friends of the person who delivered the treats expected more than just Chex Mix, while three medical center employees had to leave work while dealing with unwanted side effects of THC.
When the police contacted the deliverer of the treats, she was “aghast and shameful,” Housley said. “She thought in good faith that she was delivering a treat to the hospital staff for a holiday treat,” he said.
While individual(s) who ingested the treats did not wish to speak to police, citing personal and professional concerns, the individual(s) who did speak with police reported feeling a light-headed type feeling. “They knew they weren’t feeling right mentally or physically,” Housley said.
The Middle Park Medical Center does not plan to pursue civil legal action in this matter, according to statements the hospital released on March 18.
But employees who ingested the THC wanted to pursue criminal proceedings, Housley said.
“Some of them were certainly willing to participate in a prosecution, they were obviously not pleased,” he said. “It cost them time at work because once they realized they were altered, they couldn’t work. At least they were responsible enough to take themselves out of work.”
As a preventative measure for the future, Middle Park Medical Center administration has implemented a policy “that employees cannot accept homemade goods from patients. Employees can accept manufactured wrapped goods,” according to the press release.
Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334
Officials: Pot and Snowmass not a good mixMarch 19, 2014 —
The Snowmass community doesn’t need recreational marijuana shops, the town’s marketing board told Town Council at a meeting Monday.
The council determined in a work session last week that it wasn’t ready to ban or to regulate the sale of recreational marijuana because most members were concerned about damaging the town’s family-friendly reputation. It agreed that its first point of research would be to ask the members of the Marketing, Special Events and Group Sales Board what their thoughts were.
The board consists of nine members, most representing a sector of the tourism industry. The eight members present at the March 17 meeting all said, for varying reasons, that they thought it unwise for Snowmass Village to offer pot for sale.
Several of the board members pointed out that if tourists want to buy pot, they can drive to the Aspen Business Center or to Aspen. Steve Santomo, general manager of a rental-property company, said some of his guests do ask and he points them to those locations.
“We don’t need to have it,” Santomo said. “If they want it that badly, ... they go get it or find a way to get it.”
Board member Scott Calliham said even as a bar owner he liked the idea of being a family-friendly resort.
“If we have one or two pot shops I think that begins to diminish that right away,” Calliham said.
“There’s far more downside risk than upside opportunities to approve,” said board member Howard Gross. “Frankly, I don’t understand why council hasn’t taken a stand on that.”
Mayor Bill Boineau told the board that the council was waiting to hear from them and that he also was concerned about listening to voters. In Pitkin County, 75.44 percent of residents voted in favor of Amendment 64, the statewide referendum that legalizes marijuana sales and consumption, in 2012.
“What better survey than people who live here,” Boineau said.
Gross responded by saying that although Colorado voted for Amendment 64, most towns are choosing to ban the sale of recreational pot in their municipalities.
“That’s the difference,” Gross said. “There’s a lot of people who say, ‘Yes we approve that law that passed, but we don’t want it in our community.”
Smoking in public
Much of the discussion also revolved around the need to enforce public smoking laws. It is illegal to smoke marijuana in public places, and many hotels have rules banning all smoking, but it’s still a problem, some board members say.
Board chairman John Borthwick said he’s been “cropdusted” by people smoking marijuana on chairlifts and on the Mall.
“Personally I think it’s time for a smoking ban of any substance,” said board chairman John Borthwick. “It is something that we really do need to get in front of.”
Santomo said most of the properties he manages are smoke-free, but the rule is hard to enforce. He also cautioned against an outright ban, saying that 40 to 50 percent of international guests smoke cigarettes.
“If we’re going to allow for smoking somewhere, then it needs to be under a controlled environment,” Borthwick said.
Calliham said he doesn’t allow smoking in his restaurants and that there is sometimes some “push back” from guests. Considering a total prohibition of smoking in town “would beg a lot of further examination.”
“I think the open use of marijuana has increased dramatically since (Amendment 64),” Calliham said. “I think that message could be reiterated publicly.”