Colorado Marijuana News

Basalt-area pot farm's stink dissipates

February 8, 2016 — 

Today’s first-ever quarterly meeting to discuss the stinky odors coming from a Basalt-area marijuana-growing facility may be a quick and quiet affair.

That’s because the skunklike marijuana smell coming from High Valley Farms that so incensed residents of the Holland Hills subdivision last summer appears to have dissipated, according to Pitkin County documents.

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New retail marijuana shop opens in Eagle-Vail

January 20, 2016 — 

EAGLE-VAIL — A new recreational marijuana shop, High Country Healing, has opened on the “Green Mile” along U.S. Highway 6.

The shop will hold a grand opening celebration Jan. 22 with food, live music and specials throughout the store. Together with a local development company, the shop is next to the Route 6 Café in Eagle-Vail.

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Can the pot industry one day rival skiing?

January 20, 2016 — 

EAGLE COUNTY — Skiing is king in the Vail Valley — always has been. But will it always be so?

Winter sports will probably always dominate the Vail Valley’s economy. Despite years of effort, the town of Vail collects about 70 percent of its annual sales taxes during the ski season. That could change in the future, and perhaps the near future.

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Council upholds license approvals for Osiris pot grow

November 19, 2015 — 

The last of a series of marijuana business applications to go through the former city of Glenwood Springs licensing review process before new rules were enacted this summer got the green light to proceed from City Council Thursday night.

Council voted 6-1 to uphold city licensing officer Angela Roff’s decision last month to grant licenses for Osiris LLC to operate a cultivation, manufacturing and retail marijuana sales facility at 2150 Devereux Road.

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Voters approve letting state keep $66 million in pot taxes

November 4, 2015 — 

DENVER — Colorado voters agreed Tuesday to allow the state to keep $66 million worth of marijuana taxes despite an accounting error that could have forced the state to refund the money to taxpayers and pot growers.

An accounting error in a pot tax measure approved two years ago led to the proposition. An inaccurate tax projection required the state to ask voters again if it could keep the revenue collected last year from a 10 percent sales tax and 15 percent excise tax on recreational pot.

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Chamber, library file joint appeal of pot shop OK

October 16, 2015 — 

The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association and Garfield County Public Library District have teamed up to appeal the recent city decision to grant a license for a new downtown marijuana shop.

The chamber and library boards on Friday issued an appeal to Glenwood Springs City Council regarding license hearing officer Angela Roff’s Oct. 9 decision to approve the Kind Castle retail marijuana store at 818 Grand Ave.

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Group sues Parachute over pot decision

October 15, 2015 — 

PARACHUTE — Town officials, business owners and residents vocally fired back Thursday night against the opposition movement that filed a lawsuit and paperwork to recall four trustees over an earlier decision to repeal the town’s ban on marijuana establishments.

Since that decision in June, opponents and supporters have flooded the historically sparsely attended trustee meetings. In sharp contrast to those recent meetings, though, the majority of public comment came from people either supporting the decision directly or the trustees for their service on the board.

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New downtown, Devereux pot shops OK'd

October 12, 2015 — 

In a surprise decision given recent denials of two downtown Glenwood Springs marijuana shops due to neighborhood opposition, the city’s hearing officer has approved a new recreational pot store in the 800 block of Grand Avenue.

In addition to giving the OK to a retail marijuana license for the Kind Castle at 818 Grand Ave., hearing officer Angela Roff also granted licenses for Osiris LLC to operate a marijuana cultivation, infused products manufacturing and retail sales facility at 2150 Devereux Road.

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Editorial: A fickle, puzzling marijuana shop decision

October 12, 2015 — 

OK, let’s get this straight. If that’s possible.

The needs and desires of the adult inhabitants of Glenwood Springs, as city hearing officer Angela Roff interpreted them in June, led her to deny licenses to two recreational marijuana stores proposed for downtown. One store, which drew the most opposition, was planned for 919 Grand Ave., next to the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue. The other would have been at 404 10th St., a block off of Grand.

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New owner keeps Green Dragon pot shop name

September 21, 2015 — 

A Denver-based cannabis company that purchased the Green Dragon locations in Glenwood Springs and Aspen last week likes the name and logo so much it plans to bring all of its Colorado stores under the newly acquired name.

“We believe that the adoption of this name gives us a unique branding opportunity,” said Ryan Milligan, president of Greenwerkz, which opened the first retail marijuana shop in Glenwood Springs last year on South Glen Avenue shortly before the Green Dragon and another operator, the Green Joint, won their approvals to open shop.

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High Valley Farms lives to grow another year

September 23, 2015 — 

Jordan Lewis said he was “literally betting the farm” on his pot-growing facility near Basalt. The gamble paid off — for the time being at least.

Pitkin County commissioners voted 4-1 Wednesday to renew separate, one-year licenses for High Valley Farms, which is co-owned by Lewis and is the cannabis supplier to Silverpeak Apothecary in Aspen and other marijuana dispensaries in Colorado.

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Shops expect big crowds for tax holiday

September 13, 2015 — 

EAGLE COUNTY — Marijuana enthusiasts can add one more holiday to their calendars. On Sept. 16, recreational pot will be sold without state-added taxes.

Those taxes were approved by voters in 2013, a year after the state approved a constitutional amendment legalizing the possession and retail sale of marijuana for recreational purposes. Since revenue has exceeded projections in the ballot measure, refunds are being given in the form of a one-day price break.

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Marijuana dispensary burglar takes hash, leaves cash

September 1, 2015 — 

A Wyoming man is in custody after allegedly breaking into a dispensary and stealing $6,750 worth of marijuana from the safe last month.

Rifle police responded to a report of a burglary at Rifle Mountain Dispensary on Aug. 2 to find a half-empty safe, several piles of spilled marijuana, a security camera that had apparently been pulled from the ceiling and thrown in a nearby trash can, and a single Newport cigarette butt.

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Council gives final OK to new pot business rules

August 21, 2015 — 

The city of Glenwood Springs has completed new rules for marijuana businesses, including the addition of a special-use review and hearing process, and an expanded 900-foot setback between retail pot shops and related businesses.

City Council on Thursday approved the amended ordinance without any further discussion or public comment. The issue was aired during an Aug. 6 public hearing when council agreed to the new rules on first reading.

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Approval granted for Green Dragon to change hands

August 12, 2015 — 

A Denver-based cannabis company that already owns a retail and medical marijuana operation in Glenwood Springs won local approval Wednesday to acquire the Green Dragon’s local holdings.

Greenwerkz already received approval in May from Aspen’s licensing authority for a transfer of ownership involving the Green Dragon retail store and medical dispensary in Aspen.

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Glenwood moves to toughen pot shop rules

August 9, 2015 — 

New marijuana businesses in Glenwood Springs will face a special planning review to make sure the proposed location is suitable, and will have to be separated by at least 900 feet.

Those are the new rules that won initial approval Thursday night on a 6-1 vote by Glenwood Springs City Council.

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Glenwood moves to toughen pot shop rules

August 7, 2015 — 

New marijuana businesses in Glenwood Springs will face a special planning review to make sure the proposed location is suitable, and will have to be separated by at least 900 feet.

Those are the new rules that won initial approval Thursday night on a 6-1 vote by Glenwood Springs City Council.

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Council set to weigh pot rule revisions

August 6, 2015 — 

A ban on new marijuana businesses in the downtown core, a special permit review that would involve the city’s planning commission and a greatly increased 900-foot setback between shops are among options before Glenwood Springs City Council this Thursday.

The options were among the ideas discussed at a council work session in early July regarding possible revisions to the city’s existing licensing and land-use regulations for retail and medical marijuana businesses.

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Vail poised to ban pot

July 20, 2015 — 

VAIL — The temporary ban on retail marijuana in Vail could be permanent in a matter of weeks.

Just two weeks after the Vail Town Council passed yet another extension of a 2014 moratorium banning marijuana businesses, the council Tuesday night will consider the first reading of a permanent ban. That ban could be overturned by a future town council.

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Government Tracker: Vail extends pot ban

July 9, 2015 — 

Board: Vail Town Council, July 7 evening meeting.

Present: Jenn Bruno, Greg Moffet, Ludwig Kurz, Mayor Andy Daly, Margaret Rogers, Dave Chapin, Dale Bugby.

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Vail extends pot moratorium

June 17, 2015 — 

VAIL — The Vail Town Council Tuesday again extended a temporary ban on retail marijuana sales in town. But the days may be numbered for the temporary ban.

Council members voted unanimously Tuesday to approve on first reading an ordinance extending the ban for another 60 days. The council will probably give final approval to the ordinance at its July 7 meeting.

George Ruther, director of the town’s community development department, told council members that extending the ban will give town staff a chance to collect council-requested research about the state’s retail marijuana business. The temporary ban means no one can apply for a retail license in town during that period.

Vail banned medical marijuana shops before the 2012 passage of Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana use and established a framework for legal retail sales. While the measure passed statewide with nearly 55 percent of the vote, the margin was closer to 2:1 in Eagle County, and greater still in Vail.

Despite that popular support, only one town, Eagle, currently allows retail or medical marijuana sales. The rest of the business is conducted in unincorporated Eagle County, with most businesses now operating in Eagle-Vail along a stretch of U.S. Highway 6 some have called the “Green Mile.”

Leaving the valley’s marijuana business where it’s now established is fine with Bob Armour, a longtime resident and former Vail mayor. Armour noted that Breckenridge has banned marijuana shops downtown and, through zoning, has required those businesses to move near the town’s airport.

“That’s farther away (from downtown Breckenridge) than Eagle-Vail is from here,” Armour said. Adding that Breckenridge, Telluride and Aspen have all approved retail marijuana, Armour said Vail can be different.

“We don’t need to be (those towns),” he said.

While most of the spoken and submitted comments were against Vail allowing retail marijuana operations, Avon resident Robert Takata argued passionately in favor of allowing it.

“Your (moratorium) extension is unacceptable,” Takata said. “It’s time to allow this.”

But council member Dale Bugby said this extension may lead to a final answer.

“Hopefully we’ll get to a permanent decision in a couple of months,” he said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com or @scottnmiller.

Marijuana by the Numbers: 10 numbers about pot in Colorado that don't include 4-20

April 20, 2015 — 

Most Coloradans probably know that 4-20 — April 20 — has become the day for celebrating marijuana. Although the origin is still debated, four-twenty is probably the most popular numeric reference to pot. Rocky Mountain PBS I-News has compiled a list of less well-known figures, a paint by the numbers picture of cannabis in Colorado.

1. 71 percent

Recreational marijuana has been legal under state law for more than a year. But you can’t sell or legally buy cannabis in much of the state. Seventy-one percent of the state’s 321 jurisdictions ban all medical or retail marijuana dispensaries, according to Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division.

2. 698

There are 698 storefronts you can walk into to buy medical or retail marijuana as of this April 20, more than triple the number Starbucks (216) in the state.

3. $228

In the Denver Metro Area, consumers can expect to pay around $228 dollars for an ounce of pot, according to a survey by the Colorado Pot Guide.

4. $90 million

Canna-business has generated $90 million in taxes, licenses and fees for the state since fiscal year 2013. That’s also almost as much money as Colorado taxpayers should expect next year in refunds ($94 million).

5. 15,992

The cannabis industry has also created new jobs. There were 15,992 people licensed to work in the industry in February 2015. That’s about the same as the number of high school teachers in Colorado.

6. $413,500

Last year the Marijuana Enforcement Division fined pot shops and producers $413,500 for violating regulations, including keeping workers licensed, staying within the legal limit of how much pot they can keep on hand and disposing of cannabis waste properly

7. 800

Then there are medical patients who don’t go to licensed stores, but instead turn to caregivers, legal under Colorado law. Patients must still register with the state and get certified by a doctor. So far about 800 of the state’s 13,400 active physicians have signed medical marijuana cards for 114,290 patients.

8. $15

It costs $15 to obtain a medical marijuana card this year. In 2007, it cost $110.

9. 4.8 million

In the first year of legalization in Colorado, consumers bought 4.8 million units of edible cannabis products, such as cookies or chocolates infused with THC.

10. 148,238

Consumers bought 148,238 pounds of marijuana in Colorado last year — or more than 74 tons. According to our research, that’s heavy — weighing as much as about 24 Chevy Suburbans or eight Tyrannosaurus Rexes.

Sources:

Colorado Department of Revenue, Marijuana Enforcement Division Annual Report (Feb. 27, 2015):https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/2014%20MED%20Annual%20Report_1.pdf

Medical Marijuana Registry Program Update (Feb. 28, 2015): https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/CHED_MMR_StatisticsReport_0215.pdf

Starbucks Investor Relations, Supplemental Financial Data:http://investor.starbucks.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=99518&p=irol-financialhighlights

Kaiser Family Foundation, State Health Facts: http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/total-active-physicians/

Marijuana Enforcement Division’s report on fines, suspensions and revocations of marijuana industry licenses during 2014: http://www.leg.state.co.us/library/reports.nsf/xsp/.ibmmodres/domino/OpenAttachment/library/reports.nsf/E9BF862A3853A743872579DD007B00F6/AttachReport/January%202015report.pdf

Department of Revenue report on Marijuana Taxes, Licenses, and Fees Transfers and Distribution: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/0215%20Marijuana%20Tax%2C%20License%2C%20and%20Fees%20Report.pdf

Study estimating T-Rex weight: http://www.livescience.com/16524-rex-dinosaur-weighed.html

Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates of number of secondary school teachers: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_co.htm#39-0000

Colorado Pot Guide map of counties where marijuana is not allowed: https://www.coloradopotguide.com/where-to-buy-marijuana/

The Summit Daily News brings you this report in partnership with Rocky Mountain PBS I-News. Learn more at rmpbs.org/news. Contact Katie Kuntz at katiekuntz@rmpbs.org.

Public marijuana use problems level off

December 22, 2014 — 

VAIL — As more recreational marijuana dispensaries opened up in the area, some authorities and residents thought the problem of public smoking would become an increasingly visible problem. Instead, according to police and resort records, incidents of public consumption have not shown any significant increase over last year.

In Vail, the town has strict rules against using marijuana in public areas, and use is prohibited on the ski resorts, which is on federal U.S. Forest Service land. So far, there are no retail recreational marijuana stores in Vail, which has put a temporary moratorium on the businesses since retail shops became legal.

The Vail Police Department issued 19 public consumption citations so far this year, compared to 15 in 2013. The majority of those were issued in Vail Village and Lionshead Village. The citation in Vail results in a ticket that usually costs around $200 and a summons to court.

The Eagle County Sheriffs Office and Vail Mountain both also reported that they haven’t experienced any increase in public use problems.

“With the legalization back at the beginning of the year, you’d think the incidences would be pretty high, but I think they’re not because we’ve been writing those tickets and gotten the word out that it’s not OK,” said Office Justin Dill of the Vail Police Department.

The town of Vail has page on its site dedicated to answer common questions about Colorado marijuana law. In addition, the town has produced the information in postcard form, which are distributed to local lodges and on Vail Mountain.

Dill said it’s hard to say if the town of Vail is experiencing more or fewer public use instances than other mountain towns.

“Breckenridge has a much more lenient approach to the whole thing, and the council here has been extending the moratorium, so policies vary a lot town to town,” he said. “Our focus is to keep Vail as a destination resort that’s family friendly, and we’ve taken a pretty strong stance against it.”

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 or at mwong@vaildaily.com. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.

Granby moves to block marijuana shop

December 5, 2014 — 

A last-ditch effort by the Granby Board of Trustees to stop a marijuana business from opening in an unincorporated enclave could lead to a legal showdown.

The board will consider an emergency ordinance to annex a property that lies within an enclave on U.S. Highway 40 near Middle Park Medical Center-Granby at its Dec. 9 meeting.

Though marijuana businesses are allowed in unincorporated Grand County, Granby is seeking to annex the property before MMK Limited LLC can obtain a county license for its marijuana retail shop.

Granby contends that the business would “immediately and adversely affect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the town,” according to the ordinance.

A complaint filed in Grand County District Court, dated Nov. 28, seeks to halt the annexation, stating that the move violates state statutes.

Both MMK Limited LLC and the property owner, LTTK LLC, are listed as plaintiffs in the complaint, with the Granby mayor, clerk and board of trustees listed as defendants.

Granby Town Manager Wally Baird told the Sky-Hi News on Friday, Dec. 5, that the complaint had been withdrawn, though both the Grand County Clerk of Court’s office and an attorney for one of the plaintiffs said that it had not.

Rather, a hearing on the matter scheduled for Dec. 5 at 8:30 a.m. was postponed pending the outcome of the board meeting.

“If in fact the town does vote to do something patently unconstitutional, then we will revisit the hearing and reschedule the hearing,” said Bob Hoban of Denver-based law firm Hoban and Feola LLC, which is representing MMK Limited LLC in the case.

“Furthermore, it would be a terrible waste of the city’s resources to do this and fight this in court, and they will lose,” Hoban added.

Granby narrowly voted against medical marijuana dispensaries in 2010, with roughly 53 percent of voters backing prohibition. In 2012, both districts encompassing Granby voted in favor of Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado.

Baird said the town’s decision to ban recreational marijuana businesses in May of this year was based on an informal poll taken during public hearings on the subject, in which 98 people supported prohibiting marijuana businesses and two did not. Baird pointed out that the two against prohibiting marijuana businesses were not Granby residents.

“You’re telling me those people can’t find a better place to put a marijuana store than in an island within the town of Granby that doesn’t want it there to begin with?,” Baird said.

Baird contended that legislative action, including the town’s move to annex, couldn’t be enjoined, though Hoban disagreed.

“There are a number of cases where legislative action has been enjoined,” Hoban said.

The lot in question is located within an enclave, though it only shares one border with Granby. Its other contiguous properties are also unincorporated.

This could be problematic for Granby, which seeks only to annex the single property, and Hoban said that the case could very well hinge on the court’s interpretation of enclave.

Case echoes earlier annexation threat

This isn’t the first time that MMK Limited LLC and Granby have clashed over land use in an enclave.

The Grand County Planning Commission voted not to grant MMK a special use permit for another unincorporated property near the intersection of U.S. Highway 40 and U.S. Highway 34 after Granby expressed its intent to annex that property.

The county planning department had recommended approval.

The complaint filed by MMK contends that Granby abandoned its plans to annex the property after MMK withdrew its request from the Grand County Board of Commissioners to grant the permit.

Baird said that the town had not abandoned those plans and would likely have a hearing on the annexation in January 2015.

“Both of these places that we’re looking at are enclaves,” Baird said. “So if the town has generally spoken and said, ‘we don’t want this in the town,’ the board feels like it’s their responsibility to make sure that doesn’t happen in the town.”

Annexation move draws ire abroad

It seems that Granby’s moves to keep marijuana out of town haven’t gone unnoticed.

A Dec. 4 article in Westword magazine, titled “Marijuana-Hating Town’s Extreme Efforts to Block a Pot Shop,” is highly critical of Granby’s strategy, going so far as to name Granby a contender for the “doobie-ous” title of “the Colorado town that most hates pot.”

Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.

Fraser green lights second retail marijuana store

December 4, 2014 — 

It looks like Fraser is going to get a little greener this winter.

The town’s board of trustees unanimously approved a license for a new retail marijuana store in Fraser at its Thursday, Dec. 4, meeting.

Growhouse Fraser LLC, Grand County’s second licensed marijuana business, will occupy an approximately 1,900 square-foot suite upstairs in the Alco Shopping Center.

The new store, which has already acquired its state license, is slated to open in late December, said owner Craig Clark. It will not include a grow operation and will only offer retail marijuana sales, Clark said.

Clark, a Denver-based attorney and former Marine with Grand County roots, said he hopes other business owners can benefit from his new store, whether it be from cross promotion or simply increased traffic through the Alco center.

“We want to open a shop that supports the community,” Clark said.

During the hearing, other local business owners echoed Clark’s hopes for a symbiotic relationship and expressed minimal concerns.

Dennis Finnigan’s business, Fraser Valley Photo, sits just below Clark’s suite. Finnigan said he had some reservations about traffic on the stairs to and from the store, but said he was hopeful that both businesses could coexist.

“I hope it works, and I hope that we all can benefit from it in one way or the other,” Finnigan said.

Clark Lipscomb, representing the nearby Grand Park development and Byers Peak Ranch, questioned whether the new marijuana shop was too close to an approved school site on the Byers Peak Ranch property, and whether it was too close to another Grand Park property along U.S. Highway 40 that could house a retail marijuana store in the future.

Town ordinances dictate that marijuana businesses cannot be located within 1,000 feet of a school or 500 feet of each other. The town determined that Clark’s shop exceeded the requisite distance in both instances.

The approval marks the latest victory for entrepreneurs hoping to tap in to Grand County’s marijuana market. Despite countywide approval for Amendment 64 in 2012, most towns in Grand County have banned marijuana businesses within their borders. Only Fraser and unincorporated Grand County allow such businesses, and only the county allows grow operations.

Craig told the board that, if his business were successful, he would consider expanding his presence in the county.

“If we create a viable business in the town of Fraser, we would evaluate creating our own wholesale or supply facility as well, somewhere,” Clark said.

Fraser green lights second retail marijuana store

December 4, 2014 — 

It looks like Fraser is going to get a little greener this winter.

The town’s board of trustees unanimously approved a license for a new retail marijuana store in Fraser at its Thursday, Dec. 4, meeting.

Growhouse Fraser LLC, Grand County’s second licensed marijuana business, will occupy an approximately 1,900 square-foot suite upstairs in the Alco Shopping Center.

The new store, which has already acquired its state license, is slated to open in late December, said owner Craig Clark. It will not include a grow operation and will only offer retail marijuana sales, Clark said.

Clark, a Denver-based attorney and former Marine with Grand County roots, said he hopes other business owners can benefit from his new store, whether it be from cross promotion or simply increased traffic through the Alco center.

“We want to open a shop that supports the community,” Clark said.

During the hearing, other local business owners echoed Clark’s hopes for a symbiotic relationship and expressed minimal concerns.

Dennis Finnigan’s business, Fraser Valley Photo, sits just below Clark’s suite. Finnigan said he had some reservations about traffic on the stairs to and from the store, but said he was hopeful that both businesses could coexist.

“I hope it works, and I hope that we all can benefit from it in one way or the other,” Finnigan said.

Clark Lipscomb, representing the nearby Grand Park development and Byers Peak Ranch, questioned whether the new marijuana shop was too close to an approved school site on the Byers Peak Ranch property, and whether it was too close to another Grand Park property along U.S. Highway 40 that could house a retail marijuana store in the future.

Town ordinances dictate that marijuana businesses cannot be located within 1,000 feet of a school or 500 feet of each other. The town determined that Clark’s shop exceeded the requisite distance in both instances.

The approval marks the latest victory for entrepreneurs hoping to tap in to Grand County’s marijuana market. Despite countywide approval for Amendment 64 in 2012, most towns in Grand County have banned marijuana businesses within their borders. Only Fraser and unincorporated Grand County allow such businesses, and only the county allows grow operations.

Craig told the board that, if his business were successful, he would consider expanding his presence in the county.

“If we create a viable business in the town of Fraser, we would evaluate creating our own wholesale or supply facility as well, somewhere,” Clark said.

Hot Sulphur voters support marijuana bans

November 6, 2014 — 

On Tuesday residents of Hot Sulphur Springs affirmed their support for the existing ban on marijuana-related facilities in the town.

Folks in Hot Sulphur Springs were presented with six ballot measures on the ballot exclusively in their community.

Advisory Questions 2C, 2D, 2E and 2F asked residents if they supported the existing town bans on retail marijuana stores, marijuana cultivation facilities (growhouses/greenhouses), marijuana product manufacturing facilities and marijuana testing facilities.

The four advisory questions were intended to provide town trustees with constituent opinions regarding the bans and to inform any future decisions the trustees might make regarding the ban on marijuana facilities.

Additionally, Ballot Issue 2A and 2B asked residents if they approved of the town passing a sales tax and an excise tax on retail marijuana products and cultivation facilities in the event the Board of Trustees allowed such facilities within Hot Sulphur Springs.

Ballot Issue 2A and 2B and the taxes proposed in them were applicable if, and only if, marijuana facilities were to be approved by the Trustees at a later date.

While the Board of Trustees retains the ability to allow marijuana facilities in their community, if the results of the election are any indication, they will not be approving such facilities anytime soon.

Residents approved of the existing ban on retail marijuana facilities with 195 yes votes and 139 no votes. Voters also supported the town ban on marijuana cultivation facilities with 209 yes votes and 123 no votes. Likewise the Hot Sulphur Springs’ bans on marijuana product manufacturing facilities and marijuana testing facilities were supported by voters with Question 2E receiving 201 yes votes to 133 no votes and Question 2F taking 212 yes votes to 121 no votes.

Ballot Issues 2A and 2B were also voted down, though by much closer margins with Issue 2A receiving 154 yes votes to 175 no votes and 2B receiving 152 yes votes to 175 no votes.

Is marijuana revitalizing Eagle-Vail?

November 1, 2014 — 

EAGLE-VAIL — Can marijuana revitalize Eagle-Vail’s commercial district? Whatever the answer ultimately is, the marijuana business is growing — and bringing more people to — a stretch of U.S. Highway 6 some are already calling the “Green Mile.”

By Nov. 8, there will be three medical and three recreational marijuana businesses in the mile or so east of the stoplight at U.S. Highway 6 and Eagle Road. Two of the medical businesses have been in the valley since about 2009. The recreational businesses have all opened just this year.

Native Roots, in the back of the former Route 6 Cafe building, was the first to open. There, general manager Grant Troeger said business has been anywhere from good to crazy. After the store opened in early August, as many as 500 people per day would come in.

Four people came in during a 10-minute visit to the store on a recent early evening.

Just to the west, a new store, Rocky Road, is set to open Nov. 8. Both Native Roots and Rocky Road are parts of larger companies — the third shop, Roots Rx, is locally owned. But Native Roots and Rocky Road seem to reflect two approaches to the business.

Native Roots is in a more bare-bones space. The employees are friendly and the shelves are well-stocked, but the decor is simple.

Rocky Road seems aimed at destination guests, with plenty of wood and stone on the walls and floors. About half the store can also be shut off from the other half. The idea is if a well-heeled guests calls ahead and asks to stay out of sight of other clients, he or she can be ushered in through the back door for a discrete visit.

More to come?

The three current recreational businesses in Eagle-Vail could be joined soon by another two. In all, Eagle County will make eight recreational licenses available — five in Eagle-Vail, one in Edwards and another two in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Is that too much?

Putnam Pierman, of Rocky Road, doesn’t think so.

“There’s actually very little competition when you think of all the bars and liquor stores around,” Pierman said.

While Rocky Road has taken an upscale approach, Pierman said that business intends to rely on local customers. Those are the people who will recommend the business to concierges and visitors. Troeger added that local residents will keep businesses running between tourist seasons.

Greg Honan has operated the Herbal Elements medical marijuana dispensary since 2009. Herbal Elements’ recreational license is still in the lengthy, expensive approval process, but Honan said that’s a part of the business his shop needs to get into soon.

Asked about the growth of the business in Eagle-Vail, Honan said there are both opportunities and challenges for his business.

The opportunities include being able to work with, and share ideas with, other operators. For Honan, opportunity also exists in his growing business, which is based in Eagle-Vail, and is able to expand as state regulations evolve.

Honan noted there are several advantages to keeping a medical license, as well as a permit to buy medical marijuana.

Medical customers can be as young as 18, while recreational marijuana is limited to those 21 and older. Medical marijuana purchasers also are exempt from the 25 percent state tax on recreational products.

Honan said state and local officials at some point will have to re-evaluate the level of taxation on recreational marijuana. Taxes, and the difficulty and expense of applying for permits and licenses have kept many black-market growers and sellers from going into the legal-marijuana business, he said.

Some of those requirements include plenty of education. Troeger and Rocky Road manager Suzannah Tarpey both said educating customers is a crucial part of their jobs, especially when it comes to visitors.

That education includes a lot of talking to people about the need to take it easy with edible products — which can take an hour or more to take effect.

Tarpey, a longtime veteran of the Vail restaurant and bar business, said she’s seen people on the floor after eating too much.

Good neighbors?

Longtime Eagle-Vail business Thurston Kitchen and Bath is two doors down from Rocky Road. There, designer Ken Jones said the new neighbors have created a clean, efficient space.

“They’re handling it well,” Jones said. “And anything that puts more people on our sidewalk is good.”

At the Route 6 Cafe, owner Ollie Holdstock said he’s been happy with what he’s seen so far.

Holdstock said marijuana has been a part of life in the Vail Valley in the 30-plus years he’s lived here. The sales taxes — the state’s portion of which are dedicated to school construction — are also nice to have, he said.

Holdstock said his business is up in the last six months, although whether that has anything to do with the marijuana business isn’t clear.

“But Eagle-Vail was a dying entity before they came,” Holdstock said. “Businesses are moving in again.”

And, he said, people who come to buy marijuana products might just stop in for a burger and a beer while they’re in the neighborhood.

At Native Roots, the old business area seems to be going through a burst of activity. In addition to the deli and gas station out front, a brewery is being established right next door, and a Crossfit studio has opened up across the parking lot.

“Every single company here has come in to tell us, ‘People know where we are now,’” Troeger said.

Edible pot ban among regulators' options

October 20, 2014 — 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment suggested that marijuana regulators consider a ban on most forms of edible marijuana, which they say are “naturally attractive to children.”

The health department later clarified that its recommendation was just one of several sent to regulators as they work to draw up rules for identifiable markers or colors for edible marijuana products so they won’t be confused with regular foods. It asserts that edibles like brownies, cookies and certain candies violate the legal requirement to “prevent the marketing of marijuana products to children,” effectively limiting acceptable pot-infused food to lozenges and some liquids.

Dan Sullivan, co-owner of the The Green Joint dispensary in Glenwood Springs, said that the therapeutic value of edibles is too significant to justify banning them altogether. He expressed concern that even a ban only on recreational sales would discourage manufacturers from making such products for medical customers.

“At the end of the day, we’re relying on consumers to do the right thing,” he said. “You don’t leave your Valium on the kitchen table for your 2-year-old to take. You shouldn’t do the same thing with a cannabis-infused cookie.”

Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario feels otherwise.

“They’re the ones providing the product, and it’s their liability,” he said.

Vallario called the health department’s recommendation “a great idea.”

“They should have thought about it before they legalized marijuana,” he asserted. “Now we’re having to backtrack.”

The final decision will be made by the Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division, which oversees retail marijuana sales. Lawmakers have already ordered regulators to require pot-infused food and drink to have a distinct look when they are out of the packaging. The order came after concerns about the proliferation of pot-infused treats that many worry could be accidentally eaten by children.

In June, a 7-year-old Basalt girl accidentally ingested marijuana infused candy her mother brought home from an Aspen hotel that had a policy that food and beverages left behind in rooms could be taken home by the cleaning staff. The girl was taken to Valley View Hospital for treatment and later released.

In Denver, the deaths of Levy Thamba and Kristine Kirk received widespread attention due to association with edible marijuana. Thamba, 19, jumped to his death from a hotel balcony in March after eating marijuana-infused cookies. Kirk, 44, told dispatch that her husband had ingested cannabis before she was shot dead in April.

Without statewide data, it is difficult to establish whether these incidents represent a trend or are part of the normal range of accidents and violent crime.

One Denver area hospital has reported nine cases of children being admitted after accidentally eating pot. It is not clear whether those kids ate commercially packaged products or homemade items such as marijuana brownies. Grand River Hospital’s emergency room in Rifle has seen no such increase, according to Annick Pruett, director of Community Relations.

That doesn’t mean there’s no reason for concern, Pruett said.

“I think really the huge danger is to kids who accidentally ingest it,” she said. “It’s a new thing, and I think everyone just needs more education on it.”

Sullivan, of the The Green Joint, agrees.

“Education is the key, in addition to product packaging and thoughtful regulations,” said Sullivan. “We’ve come a long way as an industry, and I think we’ll continue to fine tune things.”

He acknowledged that edibles pose challenges. In addition to the look-alike factor, the effects are more delayed than other methods of ingesting marijuana. That can cause unfamiliar consumers to take too much — as famously happened to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd on a trip to Denver earlier this year.

Retail products are currently restricted to 100 mg of THC per package, which amounts to 10 servings at the recommended dose. Furthermore, all cannabis products leave the dispensary in a childproof container. What happens after that, Sullivan said, is up to the buyer.

A health department spokesman did not immediately comment on the agency’s proposal, which comes as authorities warn parents about look-alike pot-infused candies at Halloween.

Denver police released a video earlier this month about the danger of possible mix-ups.

“Some marijuana edibles can be literally identical to their name-brand counterparts,” department warned in a statement, urging parents to toss candies they don’t recognize.

This story includes material from the Associated Press.

Growers abandon $8.3 million in illegal pot

October 8, 2014 — 

GYPSUM – Just because pot is legal in Colorado does not mean you can grow it on someone else’s land.

In the last week, illegal growers walked away from 3,630 marijuana plants worth as much as $8.3 million in marijuana, 1,000 in Eagle County near Cottonwood Pass south of Gypsum, and 2,630 plants near Ruedi Reservoir in Pitkin County.

A hunter trekking in the Cottonwood Pass area south of Gypsum found the around 1,000 pot plants growing on private land Oct. 1. The hunter did not strap any of it to the hood of his truck, as hunters used to do with their quarry, but instead notified the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.

When deputies arrived, they found an elaborate irrigation system bringing life-giving fluids to the 1,000 pot plants. They also found a campsite nearby.

Deputies hid and watched for a long time, but no suspects showed up to harvest their crop. Eventually, because the plants would have to be harvested before the frost, and because it has already begun to frost at night, deputies decided no one was coming to claim the makeshift pot plantation. So deputies confiscated and destroyed all of the marijuana plants.

The landowner did not know the pot was there, the Sheriff’s Office said, and was happy when it was gone.

With perfect conditions outdoors, a mature pot plant can yield up to around 18 ounces, according to The Weed Blog.

If those 1,000 plants all yielded 18 ounces, at $196 per ounce for medium grade weed according to priceofweed.com, the growers would have yielded $352,000.

The case remains under investigation, the Sheriff’s Office said in a written statement.

Pitkin pot connection?

It’s not clear whether the Cottonwood Pass pot plantation was related to the Ruedi Reservoir reefer in Pitkin County found last week, but investigators are looking for connections, said Jessie Mosher, public information with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.

The Pitkin County pot plantation near Ruedi was on public land, and growers walked away from a crop worth between $6 million and $8 million, said Scott Fitzwilliams, forest supervisor with the White River National Forest.

Forest Service workers pulled 2,630 plants out of the ground and destroyed them.

That site was also found by hunters, Fitzwilliams said.

That growing operation was simple but effective, Fitzwilliams said. A “check dam” on a nearby creek created a water source for irrigation. A gravity-fed piping system delivered water to the site.

The pot plants, which were up to 6 feet tall, were growing in three or four clumps in natural clearings between subalpine fir and aspen trees in an area smaller than 2 acres, Fitzwilliams said.

The Forest Service is keeping the exact location under wraps while it finishes its investigation.

In September 2013, an illegal operation was found near Hayes Creek in the Redstone area, worth more than $8 million. Forest Service officials yanked 3,375 marijuana plants out of the ground.

Since 2009, 34 illegal marijuana grow sites and more than 65,000 marijuana plants have been eradicated from national forests in Colorado.

The agency estimates the plants produce an average of 1 pound of marijuana per plant.

While Colorado voters approved use of recreational marijuana, the federal government still views pot as illegal, the agency said in a statement.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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