Colorado Marijuana News
Ron Radtke is confident in his ability to run a successful business, whether it’s as a building contractor or growing and selling marijuana.
Admittedly, it took him a few years to learn the ins and outs of running a medical marijuana venture, but with the help of his son, Brian, Radtke is now confident that the successful business plan they’ve developed in Glenwood Springs will translate well in Aspen.Learn more »
EAGLE COUNTY — Colorado made history when we became the first state to legalize marijuana, but the Colorado Department of Transportation wants you to understand that driving under the influence of anything except good karma is a monumentally bad idea.
That includes the newly legalized marijuana, said Amy Ford, CDOT’s communications director.Learn more »
The Local Licensing Authority granted a recreational marijuana sales license to Ron Radtke on Wednesday for his East Hyman Avenue cannabis location.
Because state authorities require a due-diligence time period before opening, Radtke will have to wait until April to convert Green Dragon Aspen, currently a medical marijuana operation, to a dual operation. He plans to hold a soft opening at the store, located at 400 E. Hyman Ave., either today or Saturday.Learn more »
It’s hard to pin down just how long some people have waited for this day, but March 5, 2014, will go down as the historic date when anyone 21 and older could buy recreational marijuana legally in Aspen and Pitkin County.
Laws were put into place in 1937 prohibiting the use of the herb in the United States. According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, in the past decade, 6.5 million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges, a greater number than the entire populations of seven states and the District of Columbia combined.Learn more »
Pitkin County is well known for all its different recreational possibilties, and Tuesday they added a new one to the list — marijuana.
Early Tuesday afternoon, the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners made county history by okaying two licenses that will allow the first two outlets to sell recreational pot legally within Pitkin County.Learn more »
Hot Sulphur Springs — County officials are working to clear the haze of marijuana confusion before they tamp down their marijuana employee policy.
During their regular public meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 25, the board of county commissioners had Sarah Urfer of ChemaTox Laboratory, Inc. provide some clarification to the murkiness of marijuana use. She provided insight on best testing practices, how to determine impairment and how to develop policy.Learn more »
DENVER — A southern Colorado county with two recreational marijuana stores has become the first in the state to announce tax totals from the new industry.
Pueblo County finance authorities announced Monday that its two shops had about $1 million in total sales in January, producing about $56,000 in local sales taxes.Learn more »
With recreational use and sales of marijuana now legal, state and local law enforcement agencies are reminding the public that driving under the influence of pot still is against the law.
In May, the Colorado General Assembly passed a controversial measure that sets a threshold for marijuana-impaired-driving arrests. A driver with five or more nanograms of active THC — the psychoactive component of marijuana — per milliliter of blood at the time of impairment testing is likely to be cited on suspicion of DUI. The law states that the 5-nanogram-or-higher level “gives rise to permissible inference that the defendant was under the influence.”Learn more »
An estimated 55 people packed a basement room at Aspen City Hall on Thursday to learn more about marijuana and the different ways in which it is sold and consumed.
The impetus behind the panel discussion on cannabis, coordinated by the Valley Marijuana Council, is the upcoming opening of a recreational marijuana shop in Aspen. Jordan Lewis, owner of medical marijuana operation Silverpeak Apothecary, on East Cooper Avenue, said he has the green light from state and local authorities and is aiming to kick off his recreational adjunct business by the end of this month.Learn more »
To provide a better understanding of the state’s new recreational pot industry and how it will affect the community, a local group plans to hold a series of meetings on the topic, with the first gathering scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday at Aspen City Hall, 130 S. Galena St.
The group is called the Valley Marijuana Council. Its members include the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, the Aspen Police Department, the Aspen Valley Hospital, the Aspen School District, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, Silverpeak Apothecary and others. The group even has a website: ValleyMJCouncil.org.Learn more »
The advent of legal marijuana in Colorado has prompted local public school officials to revisit their policies and procedures regarding substance abuse, but they’re mostly waiting to see how things play out.
Under the law, recreational marijuana became a legal commodity on Jan. 1, but at this point most local marijuana retailers are selling just the medical variety to certified customers. In the Roaring Fork Valley, only Carbondale presently has a licensed, operating recreational marijuana outlet, although more are expected to open soon in Aspen and Glenwood Springs.Learn more »
SANTA FE, N.M. — A proposal to allow New Mexico voters to decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana stalled Friday, putting the measure in doubt — for now.
At a disjointed meeting, the Senate Rules Committee failed to debate the proposed constitutional amendment that would allow for the possession and personal use of marijuana for those 21 years of age and older.Learn more »
HOT SULPHUR SPRINGS — County commissioners may have agreed to allow recreational marijuana businesses, but they may prohibit their own employees from partaking.
Current regulations for county employees prohibit working while under the influence of any substance that could cause harm to themselves or others. County commissioners and staff agree this policy should continue, but things become murkier with marijuana’s legalization in the state of Colorado.Learn more »
CARBONDALE — If the first two weeks of selling recreational marijuana are any indication of future business, James Leonard is going to be a happy man.
Leonard is a co-owner of Doctor’s Garden, a recreational and medical marijuana dispensary in Carbondale that became the first dispensary in the Roaring Fork Valley to sell recreational marijuana, beginning Jan. 15.Learn more »
EAGLE — A Denver-based group has proposed a $5 million marijuana superstore for Eagle.
Rocky Mountain Pure Retail Marijuana would include a 6,000-square-foot retail operation and a 22,500-square-foot indoor cultivation center to support the store. The proposal was submitted in late December and was reviewed by the Eagle Planning and Zoning Commission this week. In a split vote, commission members recommended approval of the proposed operation with a number of conditions. The Eagle Town Board will have the final say regarding the proposal, and the public hearing is planned for Feb. 11.Learn more »
Gov. praises pot banking announcement
DENVER — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is responding with relief to word from federal officials that marijuana businesses will be allowed to access banking services.Learn more »
FRASER — Grand County residents could soon see the first recreational pot store open its doors in Fraser.
Fraser town trustees passed an emergency ordinance allowing for existing medical marijuana businesses to submit an application to open recreational marijuana stores.Learn more »
EAGLE — A Denver-based group has proposed a $5 million marijuana superstore for Eagle.
Rocky Mountain Pure Retail Marijuana would include a 6,000-square-foot retail operation and a 22,500-square-foot indoor cultivation center to support the store. The proposal was submitted in late December and was reviewed by the Eagle Planning and Zoning Commission this week. In a split vote, commission members recommended approval of the proposed operation with a number of conditions. The Eagle Town Board will have the final say regarding the proposal and the public hearing is planned Feb. 11.Learn more »
EAGLE COUNTY — Local law enforcement wasn’t sure what to expect after Colorado voters legalized pot, but most agencies have been pleasantly surprised a year later.
In November 2012, the passage of Amendment 64 made it legal for people older than 21 to possess up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use. Starting Jan. 1 of this year, the sale of retail marijuana also became legal, with the closest retail shop in Breckenridge.Learn more »
CARBONDALE — About 40 people lined up in the bitter cold Wednesday morning to be the first customers at the Doctor’s Garden recreational pot shop, the first such store in Garfield County and, according to observers, the first in this part of the Western Slope.
Some of the customers were there to be part of history, while others were eager to satisfy their desire to smoke legal, over the counter marijuana, without a doctor’s prescription, for the first time in their lives.Learn more »
The Basalt Town Council decided to chill out when it came to finalizing regulations on medical marijuana operations Tuesday night.
The council voted 6-0 to approve a second and final reading of an ordinance that establishes rules for medical marijuana dispensaries and ends a moratorium on them.Learn more »
Here’s a rundown of the doobies and don’ts for retail pot purchases.
Who can purchase recreational marijuana?Learn more »
Ladies and gentlemen, coming soon to a Colorado town near you ... retail marijuana!
For the town of Aspen — and those expecting to find shops selling pot to folks 21 and older — go back to the first line and look at the key words: “coming soon.”Learn more »
The Local Licensing Authority approved Aspen’s first recreational marijuana retailer on Tuesday.
Although Silverpeak Apothecary legally could begin selling that day, its recreational supplies weren’t ready. That’s because the shop’s grow operation in Redstone hasn’t been approved by the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners, which will review the matter Feb. 12.Learn more »
BRECKENRIDGE — The lines rivaled any seen on Black Friday, but this was no day after Thanksgiving discount deal. Rather, “Green Wednesday,” the first day of recreational marijuana sales in Colorado, brought out visitors and residents alike to legally purchase pot.
Breckenridge Cannabis Club, located downtown on Main Street, opened at 8 a.m. to an exuberant line. Customers high-fived each other as purchases were made, and those still waiting for their turn cheered as others made their way back down the stairs, brown paper bags in hand.Learn more »
Breaking ground on marijuana greenhouses in Aspen ColoradoJanuary 6, 2014 —
The first greenhouses designated to grow marijuana with county approval broke ground Friday.
Representatives and friends from Silverpeak Apothecary, of Aspen, hosted the official groundbreaking ceremony at its High Valley Farm, located at Holland Hills near Basalt.
Silverpeak Apothecary is a medical marijuana outlet whose owners say they hope to begin selling recreational marijuana by the end of February, depending on how the county commissioners designate greenhouse regulations at their Feb. 18 regular meeting.
Silverpeak owner Jordan Lewis said the groundbreaking is another step toward getting his business on track to sell recreational marijuana.
“Today was thrilling,” Lewis said. “The events today represent the culmination of a lot of hard work. It’s great to see some big machines moving dirt here.”
The Pitkin Board of County Commissioners voted to approve the greenhouses in August but dropped the original request for 37,500 square feet of floor area to 25,000 square feet.
When Lewis and planning consultant Mitch Haas made the original request, they asked for no exemptions or special treatment. Their goal was to show that an agricultural operation could exist in the proposed area with little environmental impact while maintaining the rural landscape.
That goal is now one step closer to reality.
The greenhouses are located on the south side of Highway 82, east of the Roaring Fork Club entrance.
Lewis acknowledged the help of Haas, Adam Roy, Greg Johnson and Scott McHale. Roy worked with Lewis to help get the construction project going, Johnson is the contractor, and McHale is the architect who designed the greenhouses.
Lewis said that depending on the winter weather, a best-case scenario would have the new greenhouses up and running by late spring.
“It’ll be a challenge,” he said. “If we get our ducks in line, it can happen.”
Pot tourism? Not on Vail Mountain, officials sayJanuary 6, 2014 —
VAIL — Since the passing of Amendment 64 in 2012, allowing the retail sale of marijuana in Colorado, Vail Resorts has noticed some obvious effects.
Long before pot sales were allowed to begin on Jan. 1, Vail Mountain employees noticed a rash of people openly lighting up on the slopes — including on the chairlifts and on the decks of restaurants. When employees approached smokers to stop, (as it is still illegal to publicly consume marijuana or possess it on U.S. Forest Service land), they were often met with less-than-polite responses and the insistence that marijuana was now legal.
It became such a problem that the mountain started training employees to deal with marijuana situations, said Vail Mountain Chief Operating Officer Chris Jarnot.
“Many employees weren’t sure what to do, so we made these cards to hand out to people to clarify that it’s not legal to smoke it on Vail Mountain, and we helped train staff to confront (offenders) and know the laws,” Jarnot said, adding that the resort is committed to keeping the place family-friendly.
The card is a simple bullet-point list that outlines Colorado pot law — namely, it’s illegal to consume it in public (and that includes in gondola cabins), adults older than 21 can possess up to 1 ounce, it is illegal to ski under the influence of pot and it is prohibited on national forest lands, where Vail Mountain is located.
Mountain officials said they’re only concerned about public consumption, not the hidden activities that may go on unseen.
“You will occasionally smell marijuana on the mountain,” Jarnot said. “Our staff is not going to go sniffing in every tree island on the mountain to root out marijuana, but when it’s openly and brazenly used, we will take it on.”
The rules are also backed by the town of Vail and the U.S. Forest Service. The town has been working to educate the public about pot regulations through signs and an entire marijuana FAQ portion of their website. The resort will be pulling passes of people who don’t comply with the laws, said mountain spokesperson Liz Biebl.
Violators who are convicted also face fines of up to $1,000.
Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legal pot sales: Aspen fiddles while Denver burnsJanuary 6, 2014 —
All over Aspen, the questions from tourists and locals have been the same.
“Where’s the pot?”
“If marijuana is legal, why can’t I go into a store and buy some now?”
There are numerous reasons as to why none of the medical marijuana shops in Aspen — and across the Roaring Fork Valley, for that matter — is yet licensed to sell the recreational product. Essentially, it boils down to red tape, and also the desire on behalf of local governments and many cannabis purveyors to proceed safely and cautiously with the state’s newest retail industry.
It could be early February, or perhaps later, before the first recreational pot shop is open in Aspen, local sources say. The city’s Local Licensing Authority meets Tuesday to decide on the lone application for a “retail marijuana store license,” submitted by Jordan Lewis, managing partner of Silverpeak Apothecary at 520 E. Cooper Ave.
Three other applications before the Aspen licensing board only are asking for approval of a “medical-marijuana center license,” which is considered a step along the process of seeking a recreational sales license. The companies behind those three applications, like Lewis, already have state-issued medical marijuana sales licenses. The requirement that state medical pot vendors apply for a city license is a new municipal regulation.
Even if the city licensing entity approves Silverpeak’s request for a recreational-retail license next week, Lewis still faces other regulatory hurdles in his quest to complement his existing medical marijuana sales operation.
Such explanations didn’t sit too well with Eric Jolson, 23, of Houston, on Thursday afternoon.
As he was walking around in the Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall, he carefully pulled aside strangers who looked like locals and asked them where he could buy “some legal bud.”
“You would think that Aspen would have been one of the first places to sell it,” he said. “My friends in Denver say there are several shops already open over there. I always thought Aspen was about the most pot-friendly town in the state. I didn’t come here to ski; I came here to burn and take in the views and listen to music and drink a few beers and have a good time.”
Frustrated, Jolson said he would check out a tip on a black-market source and then made his way down the mall toward his secret destination.
Indeed, other parts of the state are ahead of Aspen’s curve. According to a Denver Post story Wednesday, at least 37 stores across the state were fully licensed and open to sell marijuana to anyone 21 or older for any purpose. Colorado’s new laws legalizing pot sales — made possible by successful passage of the 2012 statewide constitutional Amendment 64 — allow state residents to buy as much as 1 ounce and out-of-state residents to purchase a quarter-ounce of marijuana, beginning Jan. 1, from stores that have garnered the necessary approvals.
Of the 37 stores reported to be open as of Wednesday, 17 are in Denver. The rest are scattered around the state in places like Central City, Frisco, Telluride, Idaho Springs and Pueblo, the Post story said.
State law is set up to give medical marijuana retail operators first crack at recreational sales. But they must have a new state license before they can file for a local application to go the recreational route.
Complicating the desire of some medical marijuana stores to move into the recreational market is the maze of local government regulation. Municipalities and counties worked during late summer and fall to craft their own rules after the Colorado General Assembly passed a set of laws early in the year to govern the overall industry. It was a long waiting game because even though the state lawmakers had finished their work in the spring, local governments had to wait for the state Department of Revenue, the agency with oversight of the industry, to outline more regulatory details.
Lewis, who already has secured his state license (conditional upon local approval), said that he would like to open sooner rather than later, but he doesn’t envision it happening until next month at the earliest.
Even if the Local Licensing Authority approves his application Tuesday, which would technically allow him to open immediately, he doesn’t think he will have enough inventory to keep the shop open for long.
That’s because the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners has yet to allow him to use his medical pot-growing operation near Redstone to supply a recreational store, he said. He could take advantage of a rule that would allow him (one time only) to convert his medical product into recreational sales, but he would run out quickly, leaving his medical customers without supply, he said.
“That would be gone pretty quick, and we would have to shut our doors again,” Lewis said. “We only get a one-time conversion for both inventory and plants. From a business point of view, it doesn’t make any sense. We really need to get the retail license for our farm approved for it to make sense for us to open for retail.”
State law requires that recreational sellers produce 70 percent of the products they offer.
“When our farms get licensed by the county, we’ll be fine,” Lewis said. “I know they want to do this right and they don’t want to rush it. But at the same time, they could say, ‘Let’s just let these guys get into business temporarily.’ Every day that we’re not able to sell, it’s a big hit for us financially. It would be great if they could find a way to make it happen.”
At his medical marijuana store on Thursday, would-be customers were dropping by every few minutes, wanting to purchase either cannabis buds for smoking or THC-infused edible candies. Those lacking a state-issued medical marijuana card had to be turned away with a vague promise that the recreational outlet might open in February.
“We have about 100 people a day walking through and asking us when we will open and maybe another 100 calling or emailing us,” Lewis said. “I realize this is new and everyone is approaching this cautiously, but the reality is that nothing’s going to change. No neighbors have complained. We have letters of support from them. The only difference is that one plant is going to have a tag that says ‘retail’ instead of ‘medical.’
Tuesday’s Local Licensing Authority meeting will be held at 9 a.m. at Aspen City Hall at 130 S. Galena St.
Colorado pot shops face new normalJanuary 6, 2014 —
DENVER — The second day of the nation’s first fully legal marijuana industry was just a bit less frenzied than the first. Rather than hundred-deep lines outside the limited number of licensed retail shops, the queues held several dozen.
Still, there were so many pot shoppers that one retailer asked customers to come back Friday. Here’s a look at the new normal in Colorado:
1. HOW MUCH FOR AN EIGHTH?
Colorado has no statewide pricing structure, and by midafternoon on the first day, one dispensary was charging $70 for one-eighth of an ounce of high-quality pot. Medical marijuana patients, who worried about being priced out of the market, just a day earlier paid as little as $25 for the same amount.
2. LAW ENFORCERS WATCHING
Authorities are watching whether consumers take marijuana to other states where the drug remains illegal. It’s too soon to tell if that’s happened yet but some law enforcement officials say it’s inevitable. Neighboring Kansas, for example, plans to continue its use of bogus road signs such as “Drug Check Ahead” and “Drug Dogs in Use” along highways to make motorists think twice about bring drugs on the state’s highways.
3. HOW MUCH MONEY FOR STATE?
Retail marijuana is being heavily taxed, with a 10 percent tax per sale and a 15 percent excise tax based on the average market rate of the drug. The state won’t have the first round of receipts until late February but it seems clear demand is strong. A trade group Thursday said three of its retail members reported between 600 and 800 customers during the first day. Colorado has projected $67 million in annual marijuana tax revenue.
4. NOT JUST POT
The same 2012 ballot measure that legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado also permitted industrial hemp farming. The Colorado Department of Agriculture on Thursday released procedures for producers to register with the state and pay fees. Hemp is marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin. It can be used in foods, cosmetics and textiles. It remains illegal to grow under federal law.
5. WHERE NEXT?
Washington state voters also legalized recreational marijuana in 2012 and that state’s market is due to open in a few months. Activists in Oregon and Alaska say they have enough signatures to put legalization measures on the ballot this year. Ballot measures may well crop up in other states from California to Massachusetts over the next few election cycles.
Colorado marijuana, Day 2: Summit County pot shops see steady businessJanuary 6, 2014 —
Before the retail marijuana movement, Nick Brown, owner of High Country Healing in Silverthorne, said on his busiest days anywhere between 85 and 90 people would visit his medical marijuana dispensary.
Yesterday, the first day for recreational marijuana sales in Colorado, more than 500 people purchased a total of four pounds of marijuana from High Country Healing.
Brian Rogers, co-owner of Breckenridge Cannabis Club, had a similar opening day, selling “several” pounds of marijuana to more than 1,500 customers. Day one sales of recreational marijuana exceeded medical marijuana sales for the entire month of December 2013, Rogers said.
And they’re still coming.
“The demand for recreational marijuana is about 30 times higher than it is for medical marijuana,” Rogers said. “We have a fresh group of people coming in and I have a line going out the door. A lot of people told me they came here instead of Utah or Wyoming because you can buy marijuana and ski in the same place.”
By midday Thursday, Rogers said he was pacing to do about 75 percent of the business he had on opening day. At 2 p.m., Brown said his headcount was more than 150 people and the foot traffic was steady all day.
“We learned yesterday that our procedures needed some improvement,” he said. “It hasn’t been as hectic, but we’re also moving people in and out of the retail shop more efficiently.”
Eventually business is going to slow, but Brown doesn’t think that is going to happen for several months. With Summit County now officially in the midst of the winter tourism season, Brown expects to see 100 daily visitors walk through his shop and much more around President’s Day, Martin Luther King Day and during Spring Break.
“This is world news and people are excited,” Brown said. “I think we’re going to see a lot of people in that senior year of college age pick Colorado over other destinations because marijuana is legal. It’s going to be good for the culture, for tourism and for our ski resorts.”