Council upholds license approvals for Osiris pot grow

November 19, 2015 — 

The last of a series of marijuana business applications to go through the former city of Glenwood Springs licensing review process before new rules were enacted this summer got the green light to proceed from City Council Thursday night.

Council voted 6-1 to uphold city licensing officer Angela Roff’s decision last month to grant licenses for Osiris LLC to operate a cultivation, manufacturing and retail marijuana sales facility at 2150 Devereux Road.

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Chamber, library file joint appeal of pot shop OK

October 16, 2015 — 

The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association and Garfield County Public Library District have teamed up to appeal the recent city decision to grant a license for a new downtown marijuana shop.

The chamber and library boards on Friday issued an appeal to Glenwood Springs City Council regarding license hearing officer Angela Roff’s Oct. 9 decision to approve the Kind Castle retail marijuana store at 818 Grand Ave.

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Denver warning issued over Aspen pot capsules

September 29, 2015 — 

Concerns over the manufacturing process prompted a Denver health agency on Friday to warn consumers about a marijuana-related edible product made in Aspen.

The Denver Department of Environmental Health removed Rx Green’s Autopilots Omega 3 & THC capsules from the shelves of Denver dispensaries and destroyed them, said Danica Lee, the department’s food safety section manager. The agency warned consumers to destroy any of the product made before Sept. 17, according to a statement.

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High Valley Farms lives to grow another year

September 23, 2015 — 

Jordan Lewis said he was “literally betting the farm” on his pot-growing facility near Basalt. The gamble paid off — for the time being at least.

Pitkin County commissioners voted 4-1 Wednesday to renew separate, one-year licenses for High Valley Farms, which is co-owned by Lewis and is the cannabis supplier to Silverpeak Apothecary in Aspen and other marijuana dispensaries in Colorado.

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Shops expect big crowds for tax holiday

September 13, 2015 — 

EAGLE COUNTY — Marijuana enthusiasts can add one more holiday to their calendars. On Sept. 16, recreational pot will be sold without state-added taxes.

Those taxes were approved by voters in 2013, a year after the state approved a constitutional amendment legalizing the possession and retail sale of marijuana for recreational purposes. Since revenue has exceeded projections in the ballot measure, refunds are being given in the form of a one-day price break.

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Council gives final OK to new pot business rules

August 22, 2015 — 

The city of Glenwood Springs has completed new rules for marijuana businesses, including the addition of a special-use review and hearing process, and an expanded 900-foot setback between retail pot shops and related businesses.

City Council on Thursday approved the amended ordinance without any further discussion or public comment. The issue was aired during an Aug. 6 public hearing when council agreed to the new rules on first reading.

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Approval granted for Green Dragon to change hands

August 12, 2015 — 

A Denver-based cannabis company that already owns a retail and medical marijuana operation in Glenwood Springs won local approval Wednesday to acquire the Green Dragon’s local holdings.

Greenwerkz already received approval in May from Aspen’s licensing authority for a transfer of ownership involving the Green Dragon retail store and medical dispensary in Aspen.

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Basalt-area marijuana farm's license in peril

August 11, 2015 — 

In a highly charged meeting Tuesday, Pitkin County commissioners told the owners of High Valley Farms, a marijuana grow facility that debuted last year, that its license is in serious peril because of its chronic stench.

The meeting was the latest in a series of county commissioner work sessions over the smell wafting from High Valley Farms, located in the Basalt area. And each time, Jordan Lewis, co-owner of the greenhouses, has assured commissioners and neighbors the stench will be eradicated. The neighbors also have been making repeated claims that the odor hasn’t gone away, continually and negatively impacting their lifestyle.

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Aspen Pot shop robber faces decades in prison, held on $100,000 cash bond

August 11, 2015 — 

The 21-year-old Aspen man charged with robbing a local marijuana dispensary last month is back in town and facing decades in prison for his crime spree.

Hayden May appeared in District Court in Aspen on Tuesday, where District Judge Gail Nichols ordered him held on a $100,000 cash or surety bond.

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Glenwood moves to toughen pot shop rules

August 9, 2015 — 

New marijuana businesses in Glenwood Springs will face a special planning review to make sure the proposed location is suitable, and will have to be separated by at least 900 feet.

Those are the new rules that won initial approval Thursday night on a 6-1 vote by Glenwood Springs City Council.

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Glenwood moves to toughen pot shop rules

August 7, 2015 — 

New marijuana businesses in Glenwood Springs will face a special planning review to make sure the proposed location is suitable, and will have to be separated by at least 900 feet.

Those are the new rules that won initial approval Thursday night on a 6-1 vote by Glenwood Springs City Council.

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Council set to weigh pot rule revisions

August 6, 2015 — 

A ban on new marijuana businesses in the downtown core, a special permit review that would involve the city’s planning commission and a greatly increased 900-foot setback between shops are among options before Glenwood Springs City Council this Thursday.

The options were among the ideas discussed at a council work session in early July regarding possible revisions to the city’s existing licensing and land-use regulations for retail and medical marijuana businesses.

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Charges piling up on alleged robber of Aspen marijuana shop

July 31, 2015 — 

The man suspected of robbing a Aspen marijuana dispensary with a hammer Tuesday led officers on a high-speed chase when they tried to pull him over west of St. Louis on Wednesday night, then crashed head-on into a police car, according to a statement.

Hayden May, 21, then refused to get out of the black 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe he stole from his former employer in Aspen, prompting a St. Louis police officer to use his baton to break the window before arresting him, the statement from the St. Louis County Police Department says.

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Marijuana shop(s) cited for selling to minors

July 31, 2015 — 

State authorities cited two Aspen marijuana dispensaries earlier this week for selling pot to a minor, sources said Thursday.

None of those sources, however, was the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division, which said only that it had conducted compliance checks Monday in Aspen.

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Vail poised to ban pot

July 20, 2015 — 

VAIL — The temporary ban on retail marijuana in Vail could be permanent in a matter of weeks.

Just two weeks after the Vail Town Council passed yet another extension of a 2014 moratorium banning marijuana businesses, the council Tuesday night will consider the first reading of a permanent ban. That ban could be overturned by a future town council.

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Government Tracker: Vail extends pot ban

July 9, 2015 — 

Board: Vail Town Council, July 7 evening meeting.

Present: Jenn Bruno, Greg Moffet, Ludwig Kurz, Mayor Andy Daly, Margaret Rogers, Dave Chapin, Dale Bugby.

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Vail extends pot moratorium

June 17, 2015 — 

VAIL — The Vail Town Council Tuesday again extended a temporary ban on retail marijuana sales in town. But the days may be numbered for the temporary ban.

Council members voted unanimously Tuesday to approve on first reading an ordinance extending the ban for another 60 days. The council will probably give final approval to the ordinance at its July 7 meeting.

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Aspen marijuana company Silverpeak expands, to address Basalt smells today (June 9)

June 9, 2015 — 

These are interesting and challenging times for Jordan Lewis, CEO of Silverpeak Apothecary, which sells both recreational and medical marijuana in Aspen.

Lewis will appear before Pitkin County commissioners today (June 9) in a work session focused on the marijuana smells that some neighbors say are wafting from High Valley Farms, the midvalley pot farm that Lewis owns and operates. The facility, which supplies the Silverpeak stores in Aspen, is located at 24359 Highway 82 in Basalt.

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Senior citizen ticked by marijuana brownie probe in Aspen

June 7, 2015 — 

Antoinette Jaworski says she enjoys baking treats for children and adults. Now getting them baked? That’s another matter, but the 84-year-old widow soon found herself caught in the hairs of a pot probe by the Aspen Police Department.

It was May 25, and Jaworksi was at a Memorial Day barbecue at the Elks Club in Aspen passing out her individually wrapped homemade goods. She soon found herself questioned by police.

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Beefer madness: pot jerky maker eyes Aspen Business Center

May 14, 2015 — 

Here’s some marijuana news to chew on: A Front Range meat-production plant has designs to ship some of its products to a location at the Aspen Business Center, where the meat will be infused with cannabis for distribution to recreational and medical marijuana dispensaries. Among its cannabis-inspired offerings: jerky, dried sausage, beef sticks, smoked salmon and chocolate-covered bacon.

One of the business’ principals, John Conlin, said Thursday that this latest marijuana incarnation is the first of its kind.

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Commissioners, attorney talk Basalt-area pot odors in private

May 14, 2015 — 

Pitkin County commissioners met privately with their attorney Wednesday to discuss their potential legal standing in the neighborhood flap over cannabis smells emitting from a Basalt-area grow facility.

Attorney John Ely could not comment about the half-hour talk but said a work session will be held for the public to chime in on the odors that originate from the High Valley Farms indoor grow center, which supplies Silverpeak Apothecary’s medical and recreational dispensaries in Aspen. The farm and the dispensaries share common ownership.

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Pitkin County commissioners aim to snuff out marijuana smell issue

May 13, 2015 — 

The apparent smell of marijuana wafting from a Basalt-area grow operation continues to linger, which has prompted Pitkin County elected officials to consider discussing the matter in executive session today.

County Commissioner George Newman brought up the stench at Tuesday’s work session. At a March meeting, neighbors of the High Valley Farms’ indoor cultivation facility said the smell has eroded their quality of life. They said the owners of the grow center, which supplies products to Silverpeak Apothecary’s medical and recreational dispensaries in Aspen, promised there wouldn’t be a smell issue when they applied for the cultivation license.

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Aspen board gives initial OK to $8 million Green Dragon sale

May 12, 2015 — 

A Denver-based cannabis company looking to purchase Aspen Green Dragon for $8 million cleared its first local hurdle Tuesday as the Local License Authority approved its change-of-ownership application.

Buyer Ryan Milligan, co-owner of Greenwerkz, said Tuesday that his company plans to purchase the entire Green Dragon operation, which includes medical and recreational licenses in Aspen and Glenwood Springs. The Aspen shop, located at 409 E. Hyman Ave., would operate as a dual medical-recreational retailer serving customers 21 and older. This would mean expansion for a company that already operates seven recreational shops and nine medical shops throughout Colorado, including a Glenwood Springs location.

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Aspen licensing authority weighs $8 million Green Dragon sale

May 11, 2015 — 

The Local Licensing Authority will weigh a change of ownership application associated with a potential $8 million sale of Aspen Green Dragon, one of six cannabis dispensers in town, at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Ryan Milligan, co-owner of Denver-based cannabis company Greenwerkz, filed the application recently with City Clerk Linda Manning. Today’s hearing, which begins at 9 a.m., represents the first set of hurdles in the potential deal with Green Dragon.

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Marijuana by the Numbers: 10 numbers about pot in Colorado that don't include 4-20

April 20, 2015 — 

Most Coloradans probably know that 4-20 — April 20 — has become the day for celebrating marijuana. Although the origin is still debated, four-twenty is probably the most popular numeric reference to pot. Rocky Mountain PBS I-News has compiled a list of less well-known figures, a paint by the numbers picture of cannabis in Colorado.

1. 71 percent

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Six in the City: Who's who in Aspen's booming recreational marijuana business

February 17, 2015 — 

Working class-Aspen residents often lament they must go downvalley or online to buy underwear and socks. Most restaurants don’t stay open past 11. The town doesn’t have a detox facility. And flying in and out of town is hardly hassle-free.

But when it comes to cannabis, Aspen has got you covered. There are more pot shops than there are liquor stores, pharmacies, supermarkets and gas stations, not to mention churches, ski mountains, hardware stores and dry cleaners.

Aspen hasn’t seen the push back that other Colorado communities have seen since the first recreational dispensaries opened in the state in January 2014. Some towns have put limits on the number of cannabis stores, while others have outlawed them altogether.

Concerns range from marijuana’s long-lasting impacts on children, as well as adults and society, to the potential for more crime and cannabis being a gateway substance to harder drugs.

But the industry marches on in Colorado, in spite of it being a cash-only business. Last week the Huffington Post pointed out, referring to a study done by the cannabis research firm The ArcView Group, that legal marijuana sales totaled $2.7 billion in 2014, up from $1.5 billion in 2013. Recreational pot is legal in four states — Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon. Voters in Washington, D.C., also approved recreational cannabis in the November elections, but sales of the product remain banned in the U.S. capital.

Meanwhile, in Aspen, when Silverpeak Apothecary and Stash opened last March, it could go down as a watershed moment in modern Aspen’s history. Four more dispensaries followed suit. For cannabis users, call it the joy of six. But for those opposed to the budding industry, it’s the opposite.

The Aspen Times Weekly reached out to the proprietors of the half-dozen dispensaries that are peppered throughout the downtown core. Each shop has their own identity, from the products they sell to the staff and interior design. But the looming question is: Is there room for six cannabis shops in Aspen? Or even more?

Shop operators answered those questions and a number of other ones.

Here’s a look at their responses ...

City audits Aspen's cannabis dispensers

February 17, 2015 — 

Aspen’s six recreational marijuana shops can each expect a visit from city officials today.

Starting at 10 a.m., Aspen’s city clerk, assistant city attorney and Police Department will conduct a compliance check to ensure dispensers are following new state regulations for edible products.

Among the restrictions, which went into effect Feb. 1, is the requirement that recreational edibles be sold in increments of 10 or fewer milligrams of activated THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Officials also will review compliance on new child-proof packaging and labeling requirements, according to City Clerk Linda Manning.

During Colorado’s first year of recreational sales, a number of issues were linked to edible marijuana consumption. In April, a 19-year-old Wyoming college student jumped to his death after eating a marijuana cookie his friend legally purchased in Denver. In May, the Denver Post reported a surge in the number of children appearing at the Children’s Hospital Colorado emergency department for accidental marijuana consumption.

Before implementation of the new regulations, recreational consumers were able to purchase individual edibles activated with as much as 100 and 200 milligrams of THC. These products included recommendations for breaking up dosages, but as Stash co-owner Garrett Patrick put it, that wasn’t an exact science.

“If you wanted 25 milligrams off that 100-milligram edible, you had to guess and cut a quarter off that cookie or chocolate bar,” he said. “And sometimes, maybe the THC was infused a little bit more on one side of (the edible).”

This led to overconsumption and unhealthy mixing with alcohol, he added.

“People go out, have a couple drinks, a couple edibles, and it becomes a little too much sometimes, so I think (the changes) are going to help,” he said.

Though Leaf Aspen co-owner Jesse Miller was hoping the state would cap the milligram dosage at 25, he said that overall, the restrictions are a good move.

“It’s going to avoid people having a bad time,” Miller said. “All in all, I think it was a good maneuver.”

Both shop owners noted that they had liquidation sales at the end of January to get rid of noncompliant products. Patrick said all but one of his vendors, Dixie Elixirs, was willing to replace and restock the products. Miller had to sell all of his nonconforming products at cost, though he said the impact was felt more at his manufacturer’s kitchen.

“It didn’t really impact our store other than having to liquidate what we had that was noncompliant,” Miller said.

Leaf produces its own edibles in its manufacturer’s kitchen with a marijuana-infused products license. All of that production was put on hold until the changes took effect, and Miller is currently acquiring new packaging to reflect the changes.

During the compliance check, Manning will be accompanied by Assistant City Attorney Debbie Quinn, Police Chief Richard Pryor, officer Rick Magnuson, officer Jeff Fain and Environmental Health Specialist Rachel Burmeister.

Aspen marijuana shops gear up for X Games crowd

January 21, 2015 — 

With the Winter X Games expected to lure thousands of young adults to the Aspen area today through Sunday, most local marijuana shops are making plans for a potential retail bonanza.

On Wednesday, many dispensaries were busy stocking up on products and planning special promotions designed to lure customers. Five recreational pot stores are located in Aspen’s commercial core — Alternative Medical Solutions (or AMS), Green Dragon, Leaf, Native Roots and Silverpeak Apothecary. A sixth store, Stash, which formerly was located outside the city limits in the Aspen Business Center, opens Friday in the Durant Avenue Mall near City Market.

During last year’s Winter X Games, Aspen only had medical-marijuana shops. It wasn’t until March that Silverpeak became the first business to offer cannabis products to recreational users.

Native Roots, a Denver-based chain of marijuana shops, held a soft opening for its Aspen store on South Hunter Street above Zane’s Tavern on Wednesday afternoon. Rhett Jordan, a founding partner in the cannabis company, gave an emphatic answer when asked if the store’s opening date was timed with the start of this year’s games.

“That’s 100 percent what we’re doing,” Jordan said. “That’s why we pushed and got the store ready in less than two weeks. I got my building permits just 16 days ago.”

Jordan said he’s confident that Native Roots will have solid sales during its first weekend. He’s even co-hosting invitation-only events at the Crystal Palace building on East Hyman Avenue from today through Sunday that will showcase some of the X Games athletes along with promoting the store.

“My business concept for years has been to work with the action-sports industry to help bring athletes off of pharmaceutical drugs when they injure themselves and to use safer and less-addictive alternatives, such as cannabis,” he said.

The store’s grand opening will be Friday. Starting at noon, the first 100 customers will be offered a bottle of Foria — a THC-infused lubricant that purports to give women more fulfilling sexual sensations — for the price of a dollar.

“We launch that product at high noon,” Jordan said. “We’ll also be running all kinds of deals and specials all weekend long.”

Ben Bayko, one of the three partners at AMS on South Mill Street, said the expanded store is kicking off the Winter X Games with a party at the East Hopkins restaurant-row club Bootsy Bellows tonight at 10 p.m. The $30-per-person event will feature electronic-music makers in addition to promoting trendy fashions from the locally owned Isvera clothing line.

AMS began recreational sales in October, but was cramped with only 200 square feet of space. Now the shop boasts 1,500 square feet of space and a new, relaxed look — just in time for the X Games crowd — thanks to a recently completed expansion on the same floor of the building where it has been conducting medical-marijuana sales over the past few years.

“Once we got approval from the state to move, we moved,” Bayko said. “We started moving Sunday and opened on Monday. This will be our first X Games weekend for recreational sales.”

Like Native Roots, AMS will attempt to boost business with various specials, including THC-infused gummy bears for one cent and a 15 percent discount on any product “for all X Games visitors and anyone who walks into the store,” Bayko said.

Green Dragon, in the Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall, expects so much business that it has beefed up security in preparation for the weekend. Extra cameras and personnel will be in place to ensure that business runs smoothly, according to owner Ron Radtke.

“We’ve doubled and tripled our security to make sure people who are not at least 21 years old don’t get into the store,” he said. “We also did it for crowd control, assuming that there will be times when a lot of people will want to get inside the store at once.”

In addition to boosting security, Radtke said he’s also expanded the store’s inventory.

“How many people were in the area for X games last year, 40,000 or 50,000 a day? If things get out of hand, it will be because we allowed it to get out of hand. As the owner, I’m not going to allow that,” he said.

Jordan Lewis, of Silverpeak, is advertising a sale of $1 grams of marijuana from today through Sunday. There’s a limit of one gram per person.

“That’s our grand welcome to the X Games community and a thank you to all the locals as well,” he said. “We hope everybody stops by and takes advantage of it.”

Jesse Miller, owner of Leaf, said he believes that a THC-infused energy drink, Blaze, will be a hit with the X Games visitors. It will be on sale for $15.

“That’s kind of the only thing we’re doing,” he said. “It’s a drink that’s geared toward the snowboard crowd. We make it and we’re the only ones in town who have it.”

He said Leaf won’t be involved in any intense marketing efforts.

“Typically, we let our market find us,” Miller said.

Garrett Patrick, owner of Stash, said his store reopens Friday at 8 a.m. in its new Aspen location near The Grog Shop liquor store. He said he’s not doing any special marketing to reach the X Gamers.

“There’s tons of kids at the X Games, and you’re really not supposed to market (cannabis products) toward kids,” he said.

Still, as part of the store’s “soft grand opening,” Stash will offer $1 joints Friday until noon, Patrick said.

Made for a woman: New cannabis spray debuts in Aspen this week

January 19, 2015 — 

When Native Roots opens its sixth Colorado recreational cannabis dispensary in Aspen this week, psychoactive products won’t be the only items on its menu. On Friday, the chain will debut its Foria product geared exclusively toward women.

Foria is a THC-infused lube that doesn’t get its users high; rather, women who apply it are purported to have a much more fulfilling and enjoyable sex experience.

So says Mat Gerson, Foria’s wellness director, who splits time between Colorado and California, where the product was launched initially on the medical cannabis market.

“This has been definitely the most interesting business story of my life,” said the Boulder native, who also co-founded Sir Richard’s condoms.

While it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, Gerson said, Foria is the “female Viagra.”

“It creates sensation and sensitivity,” he said. “And it helps them have a deeper orgasm for some reason. That’s been the consistent feedback we’ve gotten from users. Women try it, and they find it effective.”

Native Roots will make the product in Colorado, Gerson said. Its new recreational shop opens at 308 S. Hunter St. the same week the Winter X Games come to town. Gerson said the company will market the product in Aspen all week — cannabis is forbidden during at the event — with literature and promotional material.

Gerson said the target consumers are the “about 50 percent of women in our culture who have challenges in their intimate lives.”

Initially, plans were for Foria to be rolled out in Aspen near Valentine’s Day. But Thursday’s opening of Native Roots accelerated the Friday launch.

“There are 26 FDA-approved drugs on the market for men with similar challenges,” Gerson said. “There’s really not much on the market for women. It’s proving to be extremely effective for women on a broad scale. Women in long-term partnership with their partners are finding a new spark.”

The spray is applied to the vaginal region.

“Most (cannabis) products induce psychoactive activity,” Gerson said. “But this doesn’t.”

The small bottles go for $44. The large ones are $88.

Another version of cannabis strictly for women created a buzz last week with reports of Bethany Frankel, of “Real Housewives of New York City” fame and the founder of the Skinnygirl label, launching a Skinny Girl marijuana product. The cannabis wouldn’t produce symptoms such as the munchies, thus adhering to the Skinnygirl theme.

Frankel was spotted in Aspen last month at the Green Dragon recreational shop on the Hyman Avenue mall. On Dec. 20, she tweeted: “OMG it’s the craziest thing to see marijuana legal in Aspen. People walking into pot stores like it’s the @Gap #prohibitiondone.”

Forest Service still investigating illegal pot operations near Redstone, Ruedi

January 19, 2015 — 

Several months after the eradication of two separate illegal marijuana-growing operations on national forest in the Aspen area, the U.S. Forest Service is still trying to find the responsible parties.

No arrests have been made, but the agency said its law enforcement branch continues to investigate a case from September 2014, when a grow operation was discovered in the Fryingpan Valley, and a September 2013 case in the Crystal Valley. The agency cannot comment during active investigations on whether it suspects drug-trafficking organizations to be involved in the pot gardens, said Chris Strebig, a spokesman for the agency’s regional office in Lakewood. A source familiar with the investigations said the Fryingpan Valley grow operation in particular appeared to have ties to drug traffickers. The source wasn’t authorized to speak for the agency.

The first discovery was made in a secluded area along Hayes Creek near Redstone. Two archery hunters came across the operation and reported it to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.

Federal workers pulled 3,375 plants out of the garden and destroyed them. Crews also dismantled an irrigation system that was supplying water to the garden. A makeshift camp for one or more growers was dismantled at the site, the Forest Service said.

A year later, an illegal marijuana-growing operation was discovered in an area east of and higher in elevation than Ruedi Reservoir. Hunters discovered the Ruedi pot patch, as well.

Law enforcement officers with the Forest Service put the site under surveillance the week of Sept. 22, but no one was observed at the site, according to the agency. A gravity-fed piping system fed water to the growing operation, which officials described as three or four clusters of pot plants in natural clearings in the national forest.

Federal workers pulled 2,630 marijuana plants from the Ruedi-area operation and destroyed them.

The Forest Service estimated the value of the Redstone-area marijuana at $8.4 million and the value of the Ruedi Reservoir-area marijuana at about $6.6 million. The agency estimates that each plant yields a pound of processed material and that the marijuana is worth $2,500 per pound. Observers in Colorado’s legal marijuana business said the Forest Service’s assumptions are high.

Although recreational use of marijuana was legalized in Colorado this year, it is still a crime to possess, use or cultivate pot on national federal lands.

Strebig said there are generally clues left behind when a drug-trafficking organization is involved in a grow operation.

“In many cases, (drug-trafficking)-operated gardens are occupied during the growing operation,” Strebig wrote in an email. “The gardens will have makeshift shelters and kitchens. The pesticide, herbicides and fertilizers may indicate they are produced and sold outside of the United States. There may be carvings on trees that indicate the site is part of other sites operated by (drug traffickers).”

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