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

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

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times

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.

Today’s meeting comes after Silverpeak’s announcement Friday of its alliance with health care heavyweight North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System. The two entities have linked arms to be a licensed marijuana provider in New York state.

Lewis was in New York the past six months working on the arrangement, which includes the formation of Silverpeak NY LLC. The LLC has applied to New York’s health department to cultivate and dispense medical marijuana.

In the meantime, Lewis has his sights on what’s happening at High Valley Farms. Neighbors are upset about the smell, and commissioners are listening.

“I’m aware that there are issues here that we’re working through,” Lewis said. “We’ve demonstrated our ability to overcome many obstacles, but I don’t want to gloss over the fact that there are issues here. We understand and are very sensitive to the community’s concerns, and we’re working diligently to resolve the issues that come out.”

The future of High Valley Farms, which opened in 2014 to the contention of nearby Holland Hills residents, could very well ride on the cannabis smells it’s allegedly generating. One of the conditions of the facility’s annual license approval was that pot smells wouldn’t emit from it. The license is up for renewal in September, and commissioners have said they won’t approve it should the stench persist.

“Pursuant to the facility licenses, the board may take remedial action to abate the odor by suspending operations, prohibiting operations, reducing the scope of operations, revoking operations or other action as the board may want to discuss,” says a memo from county attorney John Ely and Jeanette Jones of the Local Licensing Authority.

The memo, which was addressed to commissioners, suggests that the operation be allowed to continue while commissioners monitor the progress of the odor mitigation before reviewing the matter in two months.

But High Valley Farms might not be the source of the neighbor’s chagrin. At a May meeting, a local resident said the smell could be coming from the Holland Hills Business Center, home to two licensed marijuana growers.

Lewis said he believes a resolution is imminent.

“We’re very confident that we’ll come up with a solution that meets the very high standards that we hold ourselves to and the community holds us to,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lewis also called the New York development “a watershed moment in medicine and the cannabis industry.”

To have North Shore-LIJ Health System on board to study the impact of marijuana on such diseases as Alzheimer’s, among others, gives credence to the startup cannabis industry, he said.

“This is the first time a major health care provider has gotten actively involved to find how cannabis can benefit patients,” he said. “This can be data-driven therapeutics and a scientific approach to cannabis.”

Feinstein Institute for Medical Research also is on board. Its role will be to create a cannabis research program with the ultimate goal of integrating marijuana into medical practice.

“As New York’s largest health care provider with 19 hospitals and more than 400 outpatient physician practices throughout New York City, Long Island and Westchester County, North Shore-LIJ recognizes the importance of our patients having access to every legal option to manage the symptoms of their illness, if there is clinical evidence to support marijuana’s use for the condition,” said Michael J. Dowling, the health system’s president and CEO, in a statement. “If we receive state approval to move forward, we are confident in our ability to administer and dispense medical marijuana, in compliance with state guidelines.”