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.
The store’s opening was made possible by approval of a business license by the town board of trustees on Tuesday night. The state regulators at the Department of Revenue had earlier granted owners James Leonard, Robert Pinchuck and Alan Bonsett a “conditional” license to open, pending approval from the Town of Carbondale.
Gary Pax, a longtime Carbondale area resident, said he had arrived two hours earlier than the scheduled opening of 9 a.m., in order to be first in line.
“Yep, 7:01,” Pax said. “I’m serious. I have my chair, my coffee, I’m dressed warmly. I’m set. Oddly enough, I don’t use it. I’m here because I can buy it. It’s a historic experience.”
Another man at the head of the line, Marc Horwitz of Moab, Utah, was there with his wife, Terry Fearing, and his 89-year-old mother, who gave her name as Mona and, after some prodding, admitted that she probably would be making a purchase of her own along with her son and daughter-in-law.
“She’s going to make sure I don’t smoke and drive,” joked Horwitz.
“And if they stop the car, I’ll just eat it, right?” rejoined his mother with a grin, referring to the possibility of being pulled over by authorities in Utah.
Horwitz said he and his family “were in the neighborhood” visiting Glenwood Springs, and after reading in the newspaper about the opening of the store decided it was something they needed to witness.
“It’s the freedom America is supposed to represent,” added Horwitz. “The pathetic drug war is finally coming to an end.”
Also in line was Julie Ross of Carbondale, who said she hadn’t planned on attending the store opening, but “I got a call, and they said you’d better be there. So here I am.”
Explaining that she planned to buy an edible-pot product, she elaborated, “This saved me from alcohol. It saved my life” when she started using medical marijuana about three years ago.
The expectant customers were kept waiting in the cold for more than half an hour, and at 9:15 a.m., Caroline Alberino, also of Carbondale, called the phone number on the store’s sign to ask when they’d be opening the door.
“It shouldn’t be long now,” she told her fellow shoppers.
A second sign was hung in the door, shortly before the store opened at 9:33 a.m., letting customers know that the medical marijuana part of the store is closed “temporarily” because of a mix-up with state regulators concerning the store’s security-camera setup, so that sales will take place only on the recreational side of the shop for now.
As customers started moving inside, Pinchuck directed people to a spot where identification was being checked, and the customers bellied up to the counters to make their purchases.
Pax, the first to get into the store and the first out, emerged with a plastic packet containing an edible product and declared to those still waiting outside, “Never fear, moms. It has a child-proof top.”