Officials OK first Snowmass marijuana dispensary

Renee Grossman stands in the space she is leasing on the Village Mall in Snowmass on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. With town approval, Grossman hopes to open Snowmass' first marijuana dispensary there this winter. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

Town officials unanimously approved Snowmass Village’s first retail marijuana dispensary Tuesday night.

After about an hour-and-a-half long public hearing, the Local Marijuana Licensing Authority — which is made up of Town Council members and chaired by Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk — voted to approve the proposed High Q dispensary on the Village Mall and issue its town license following the completion of these conditions:

The applicant, Renee Grossman, must ensure signage for the dispensary meets requirements established by both the Community Development Department and the Village Mall’s comprehensive sign plan.

The dispensary’s fire alarm system, ventilation system, sprinklers, extinguishers and exits must all meet Roaring Fork Fire Authority district codes and approval.

The dispensary’s security and alarm systems must be inspected and approved by the Snowmass Village Police Department.

The licensing authority also requested a dispensary tour after the required conditions are met and before the shop opens its doors to the public in December.

“Given this was the first and only application I’ve ever seen, I had no idea what to expect,” said Bob Sirkus, licensing authority member and town councilman. “This was the equivalent of a business plan in the format of an application. I commend you on it.”

As expressed by Sirkus at the Tuesday hearing, this was the first town license application the Local Marijuana Licensing Authority had ever reviewed.

The retail marijuana dispensary licensing process is brand new to Snowmass Village, as Town Council only approved the zoning ordinance and a related set of carefully crafted regulations for potential marijuana dispensaries in the village in March after a more than five-year moratorium on the shops in town.

The relatively new ordinance allows retail dispensaries to operate within certain spaces on the second floor of the Snowmass Center and Village Mall, and requires dispensary applicants to both obtain a local commercial lease and receive their retail license from the state before entering into the town’s licensing approval process.

Grossman, who runs two dispensaries in Silt and Carbondale, was selected out of 11 applicants to the Romero Group for a chance at the first town dispensary and has been leasing the proposed marijuana shop space adjacent to the Little Mammoth Steakhouse on the Village Mall’s second level since early July.

She received approval from the state for a retail marijuana license on Aug. 14 and submitted her 101-page application for a town license shortly after.

“Renee, I want to compliment you on the quality of your application,” said Markey Butler, licensing authority member and town mayor, right after Grossman presented her application. “It’s very thorough and answered tons of my questions.”

Like Butler, the majority of the licensing authority gave kudos to Grossman for her in-depth application, and spent most of the Tuesday hearing asking questions about how operating a marijuana dispensary works and how the Snowmass shop would be different.

Grossman discussed everything from what it means for marijuana to be organically grown and tracking requirements for marijuana products to recreational marijuana trends across the state and new software she intends to use in Snowmass to better detect fake IDs with board officials, who decided to request a tour of the dispensary before it opens.

“If somebody follows this path I’d like to have some point of reference of what we have approved first,” said Tom Goode, licensing authority member and town councilman, of a dispensary tour.

According to High Q’s Snowmass license application, Grossman and her investors intend to offer locals and town visitors organically grown marijuana strains and a wide selection of marijuana-infused products at reasonable prices.

The Snowmass shop also intends to be a positive contributor to the local community, when appropriate, and to educate consumers on all things marijuana.

“We have a real focus on community,” Grossman said. “Snowmass Village does not allow marijuana companies to sponsor town events, but we are looking at private organizations and charitable causes to determine what’s appropriate.”

After the Tuesday meeting, Grossman said she was relieved to get the approval for High Q in Snowmass.

She plans to get started right away with meeting the town’s conditions on receiving the local license, and said her biggest obstacles ahead are finishing shop construction and hiring good, reliable employees.

“I hope to hire my employees by Dec. 1 so they can shadow in other stores and potentially do some training on site, and then to open by mid-December,” Grossman said. “I’m just really excited to be the first store in Snowmass Village and hope people will come find us.”