Basalt medical marijuana center opens after a long, strange trip |

Basalt medical marijuana center opens after a long, strange trip

Contributed photoJeff Lessard, general manager of Basalt Alternative Medicine, shows off the products of the medical marijuana center that opened Tuesday in the former WIN Institute building.

BASALT – The town’s only medical marijuana center opened Tuesday, about six weeks after the owners and Basalt officials settled a squabble over a business license.

Basalt Alternative Medicine (BAM) opened in the former WIN Institute building adjacent to the Midvalley Medical Center. While there are an estimated 12 centers in Carbondale and at least five in Aspen, BAM finds itself in the unlikely position of having a monopoly in Basalt.

The town staff initially rejected BAM’s application for a business license based on various issues. The sides reached a compromise when the decision was appealed to the Town Council. BAM was allowed to operate under an existing, active license granted to Doctors Healthcare Cooperative, a former dispensary that operated at the same space. The town ruled the license could be transferred because Dr. Jason Slaver was an investor in both the prior dispensary and in BAM. Slaver’s partners include Doug Olson and David Schoenberger, both of Basalt.

One month after resolving the dispute over BAM, the Town Council passed an emergency ordinance Oct. 26 that placed a moratorium of up to two years on review and issuance of any additional licenses for medical marijuana centers. Town Manager Bill Kane said the moratorium was necessary because Colorado laws are too unclear on regulations on dispensaries, thus forcing municipalities and counties to stumble through costly and time-consuming reviews. Town officials hope the state clarifies its regulations in the 2011 legislative session.

Schoenberger and Olson are relieved to finally get their business open. Jeff Lessard, who was hired as general manger, whipped the small shop into shape for the opening. Twelve jars of beefy buds of various marijuana strains sit on shelves behind the counter. Granddaddy Purple helps patients go to sleep while dealing with pain. A new strain called Bruce Lee is designed as an “ass-kicking” energizer, Schoenberger said.

Lessard, a grower, said all of BAM’s product is grown in organic soil, either in the Basalt area or in San Miguel County, where Lessard has operated medical marijuana centers in Telluride.

“New strains are coming out every day” to help with a variety of issues facing patients, he said. “Each time a person comes in, I need to know what their ailments are, what’s worked for them in the past.”

All the smokable inventory is stored in a large safe known as “The Fat Boy.” Town rules also require the center to have a video surveillance system that operates from multiple angles.

In addition to the smokable product, BAM is stocked with edibles and elixirs. There is hard candy, Leaf Bar candy bars, peanut butter called “Sticky Icky,” iced tea, lemonades, honey from western Colorado, Mile High Harmony Cookies, Rest and Relaxation Brownies and an energy drink billed as “the one hit wonder.” All are infused with THC.

“I know people have a need for edibles,” Lessard said. “Smoking just isn’t going to work for them.”

He is working on getting edibles low in sugar. “We don’t want to turn all our patients into diabetics,” he said.

Tinctures will be added to the collection. Drops of the infused liquid can be added to tea, for instance.

Schoenberger said BAM’s prices are competitive with other centers in the valley. They also plan to compete in a saturated market by offering top-quality product and service.

“I’m not saying it’s the best,” he said of the medical marijuana offered by the shop. But “it’s very clear, very consistent.”

BAM is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

The business owners are exploring renewing their lease at the former WIN building since the current agreement expires at the end of November, Schoenberger said.

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