Colorado’s first drive-through pot shop will be in Parachute

Alex Zorn

The Tumbleweed Express in Parachute will be the first drive-thru marijuana dispensary in the state.
Alex Zorn / Post Independent |

In just a few months, Parachute will be home to Colorado’s first drive-through marijuana shop. Tumbleweed, owned by Green Cross Colorado LLC, has won approval for drive-up sales out of a former carwash, across the street from Tumbleweed’s primary location.

While the decision to repeal Parachute’s ban on marijuana establishments in June 2015 stirred months of controversy, the revenue pot sales has generated is critical to the town.

At a Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon in February, Parachute Mayor Roy McClung said that personal feelings aside, without legalized recreational marijuana, the town’s economy would have been in serious trouble.

Parachute Town Manager Stuart McArthur said nearly 30 percent of Parachute’s sales tax receipts in 2016 were from marijuana sales — $310,000 out of $1.05 million total.

“The really good news is that other businesses are benefiting from it,” McArthur added.

He pointed to the fact that cars coming off the highway to purchase marijuana in Parachute are now more likely to stop at other restaurants and shops, which has proven to be an economic driver for the town, which was hit hard by the latest natural gas downturn.

“In December 2016, $25,016 of the town’s $93,320 tax receipt figure, or 26.8 percent of the town’s sale tax for the month, was from the sale of recreational marijuana,” McArthur wrote in a memo to the town’s Board of Trustees. “The percentage is down from previous months, indicating that other sales tax is increasing as a percentage of the total.”

The Parachute Board of Trustees on Thursday approved an annual renewal of the business license for Tumbleweed Express, the future name of the drive-through. The dispensary originally applied for a license last year even though it is not expected to be officially open until sometime around March.

“We think the drive-through is a very creative and innovative idea,” McArthur said.

Tumbleweed also needed approval from the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division.

“As far as I can tell we are not aware of this business model ever coming up before,” said Robert Goulding, spokesman for the division. “It will have to follow all the rules and regulations that apply to every dispensary.”

Goulding specifically pointed to three rules that regulators made sure the Tumbleweed would follow. The first is that nobody younger than 21 is allowed in the premises, even if they are in the backseat of the car.

The second is a requirement for security and surveillance at the point of sale.

The third is that no marijuana can be visible from outside the licensed premises.

Were the dispensary planned to be set up like a typical drive-through fast food restaurant, it would run into problems with one or more of these rules. But being in a former car wash will enable it to meet the rules.

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