Nation’s first drive-through pot shop opens in Parachute on 4/20 (of course)

Alex Zorn

One day, working alone in his Parachute marijuana store late at night, Mark Smith noticed something that would change his business forever.

More and more people were knocking on the window of the shop, Tumbleweed, to see if it was open. Smith, the CEO, realized that his business would greatly benefit from a late-night service. That same week a for-sale sign went up at the car wash across the street. That’s when Smith came up with the idea that turned his local shop into an industry forerunner.

In two days, camera crews from the “Today Show” and other national programs will be on hand to see Smith open what will be the nation’s first known legal drive-thru marijuana shop.

“I didn’t set out thinking this would be national news,” Smith said. “I didn’t have some big epiphany. I just saw a need for our customers.”

The original Tumbleweed store opened in Parachute in February 2016 and has since expanded to Edwards, Eagle-Vail, Frisco and beyond.

It will be the first recreational marijuana shop to have cars actually pull into the building, thereby complying with state marijuana laws.

“As far as I can tell we are not aware of this business model ever coming up before,” Robert Goulding, spokesman for the Marijuana Enforcement Division, told the Post Independent. “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.

“The same laws apply to the drive-thru as do the main dispensary,” Smith explained.

Back in June 2015, the decision to repeal Parachute’s ban on marijuana establishments was met with months of controversy, including failed votes to recall town councilors and to repeal the ordinance. While it remains controversial, its impact has helped the town’s economy catch its breath.

The town of 1,100 had lost about a third of its sales tax revenue because of a slump in natural gas development.

Between 2015 and 2017, though, the town’s sales tax receipts grew by as much as 70 percent, which Town Manager Stuart MacArthur attributes primarily to marijuana sales. He said that marijuana provides the town with the financial resources to move forward with capital projects that would otherwise not be feasible.

“Tumbleweed has been a good neighbor and has made large investments into town,” he added. “We’re excited to have Tumbleweed here and get on the map with something that is totally unique. Google it and you get over 15 pages of hits.”

Nearly 30 percent of the town’s tax receipts in 2016 were from marijuana sales, down from the previous year, showing that neighboring businesses are growing because of the new industry.

The Tumbleweed Express Drive-Thru grand opening festivities will take place from 1 p.m. to midnight April 20 and will include T-shirt and sticker giveaways as well as food trucks. On the day of the opening there will also be a live DJ, a live national network news feed, a live radio broadcast and visits from vendors who will talk about their products.

The Tumbleweed Express Drive-Thru will be open 4 p.m. to midnight Thursday through Sunday.

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