County gives recreational pot the green light
July 31, 2014
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.
The commissioners gave the initial green light to Silverpeak Apothecary in Aspen, allowing it to supply its recreational marijuana from its established grow house near Redstone. Owner Jordan Lewis already has a license to sell recreational pot, but needed to garner the board's approval that his grow operation had all its permits and inspections completed and approved by the county.
Lewis is set to begin the new venture at 1 p.m. today, but Silverpeak won't be the first outlet to sell recreational marijuana in Pitkin County because STASH, owned by Patrick Garrett, also earned approval from the board to begin selling recreational weed today.
STASH, located at the Aspen Business Center, had its recreational license approved and plans on opening at 9 a.m. today, making it the first shop to sell recreational pot in the county.
"We've been working so hard to get everything in order as per the county," Garrett said. "Our plan has always been to be the first to sell recreational in Pitkin County. We're already the first to convert fully to a recreational outlet."
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Garrett said his business still would take care of their medical patients' needs. He said they'll have to charge the correct taxes, but can adjust the price of the medical marijuana to make it much more affordable than recreational.
STASH also has an application in for approval of a recreational marijuana grow facility near Snowmass, but that license will come back for approval next week as Patrick continues to work with county attorneys to bring the grow facility up to county code.
The commissioners voted, 3-1, to approve Lewis' retail cultivation facility in Redstone, which will allow marijuana from that facility to stock the recreational shelves at Silverpeak. Commissioner Rachel Richard was not present as she's at a meeting in Washington, D.C. until Thursday.
Lewis said it's been a long and winding road to reach the point of selling recreational pot since he got into the medical marijuana business three and a half years ago.
"It's a very happy time," Lewis said with a broad smile. "I guess I'm upset (commissioner) George (Newman) didn't finally throw me one vote. I'll never be happy until George votes "yes" on something."
Newman has been consistent in voting "no" to marijuana operations in any area that is zoned residential or agricultural.
If Lewis hadn't left the Tuesday meeting right after his approval, he would have heard Newman vote "yes" concerning Patrick and STASH. The commissioner's approved the STASH recreational license by a vote of 4-0.
"I'll support this license (STASH) because it's within an area zoned commercial," Newman said.
Patrick said he expects to offer more than 20 strains of marijuana today and won't put any extra limitations on how much a person can buy. In Colorado, in-state residents can purchase up to an ounce per day, while out-of-state customers can only purchase up to a quarter of an ounce daily.
Lewis plans on selling less variety at first to keep the transactions moving smoothly during the initial sales, and if need be, limit how much customers can buy to allow more people the opportunity to purchase his pot.
"We need to see what the demand is," Lewis said. "We'll ration our supplies accordingly. We'll start with five or six recreational strains and edibles, where we have 15-20 different strains on the medical side. We want to limit the options at first to expedite the process, and we'll set prices based on market value and adjust accordingly. This has been a very expensive process and we do need to cover our expenses. We've socked away quite a bit of product to get us through the next few months. We're sourcing some on the open market and we've also basically been stockpiling in anticipation of this."
Commissioner Rob Ittner called Lewis and Patrick "trailblazers" and urged them to be leaders in this new business. He encouraged both owners to continue with their involvement in educating the public and to make sure their employees receive proper training and education.
"Aspen is more than ready for this," Lewis said. "People have been very patient but we're still getting asked constantly when we can sell recreational."
Lewis said a typical eighth of an ounce sells for between $25 and $50 for medical patients. He expects the recreational prices to begin at $25 to $30 for a gram, so an eighth of an ounce of recreational will cost more than $100.
"It's going to be expensive," Lewis said. "The taxation issue bumps up prices quite a bit. Hopefully that's a small price to pay for legal marijuana."