Welcome to the Budroom
In Colorado weed world, January 1 was a big day in the state. That is when it was legal for marijuana to be sold as a retail consumer product to customers 21 years old or older. While the town of Crested Butte has three medical marijuana dispensaries, at least one of the establishments is expanding into the recreational marijuana business and a new one is testing the waters.
Local bus drivers, retail sales clerks, even the staff at the Crested Butte Town Hall have all fielded questions and requests from out-of-state visitors asking when and how retail marijuana sales would be allowed in Crested Butte. The idea of a new tourism industry is real.
The Acme Dispensary on Belleview Avenue has applied to the state to be able to sell retail marijuana in town. The dispensary must get a state license approved before applying for a local license. The hope is to get a state license okayed within the first week of January and then have a town license by January 22.
“Overnight we will have our doors open to the world and that is a great feeling,” said Acme general manager David Niccum. “The state of Colorado and the town of Crested Butte should see major tax revenues and we have the opportunity to show a lot of people from a lot of different places that this business can be run professionally and the product itself can be very beneficial. We will have a lot of individuals who did not want to get their medical marijuana card for whatever reason [who will] be able to come in for the first time and see what their friends have been telling them about. Tourists can go back to their home state and spread the word that this business does work and once again we are in the driver’s seat to change a lot of people’s minds on a much larger scale.”
Crested Butte town clerk Shelley Jansen said a new operation has started the process of opening a facility in Crested Butte in the old Radio Shack building near the corner of Fifth and Belleview. The Board of Zoning and Architectural Review (BOZAR) is reviewing an application and, given some of the logistics with a grow operation in Boulder, it is not expected to open until February. That too would serve both medical and recreational clients.
“The town’s process with the marijuana operations is the same as the liquor licensing,” explained Jansen.
“Once we receive a complete application, which means approval from the state and BOZAR, the town will post the request for ten days in the newspaper and at the site before a council meeting. The town will do the background check, review all the information in the application and then it is up to the council for final approval.
“The cost for each license type is $1,500,” Jansen continued. “Our current establishments will only be charged $1,500 to apply for a retail license and the guys potentially going into Radio Shack will be charged for two licenses [retail/medical] for a cost of $3,000.”
With the addition of recreational marijuana sales, Acme will be adjusting its medical marijuana operation to no longer serve patients under 21 years old.
“Based on the design of our space and everything that we had to consider we have made the decision to only service people 21 years and older,” explained Niccum. “As hard as we tried to maintain our 18- to 21-year-old patients it just wasn’t working for our situation. It was not a hard decision to go retail but it was an extremely hard and well thought-out decision to stop serving our current 18-, 19-, and 20-year-old patients. We have a great customer base at that age and we know with them, like everyone else who comes to our store, that they were coming in for the right reasons. It is hard to say that we can’t help them anymore. It is very unfortunate for us and for them that we can’t provide that age group the same service that we have provided them over the last three years but don’t think we have forgotten them—we are doing the best we can to get them back.”
A boom in retail sales, Niccum said, is actually quite possible. “I can’t even describe the expectations,” he said. “Based on the calls and inquiries that we have been receiving already, it is going to become overwhelming very quickly. We are also advertising out of our Durango store to visit the Ridgway and Crested Butte locations for retail marijuana since Durango is not expected to allow retail until the middle of next year.”
There will be some physical changes at the site. Niccum said the retail aspect opens up a whole new opportunity. “We will be allowing multiple people into our ‘budroom’ but all retail products and medical products will be maintained and sold completely separate. There will always be medical marijuana for our patients. The retail operation will be completely separate and as hard as we are trying to make sure to keep up with demand on that side, it is just expected that retail demand will definitely outweigh the supply. But we will get through it the best way we can and we won’t be forgetting those great medical marijuana patients who have gotten us to where we are today.”
Given the expectations, Acme is considering trying to find a larger space but no plans have been finalized. “If the council had allowed Elk Avenue to open up for us it would have given us a little more flexibility as a legal retail business in the town but that decision did limit us,” admitted Niccum. “Like everything else that we have pushed through to get where we are, this is just another little hurdle. Our current location’s landlord has always treated us like a normal business and has always been great to us, along with our neighbors. I just wish it was a little bigger and we weren’t ‘out of sight out of mind’ over at Third and Belleview.”
Under the state law, one has to be 21 or older to purchase the product. You can legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow six plants in your home. In-state residents can buy up to an ounce of pot at a shop, while out-of-state residents can buy up to a quarter ounce.
But the law doesn’t allow carte blanche for those who want to partake in weed. You cannot legally use marijuana in pubic or in places it is banned such as near a school or on federal land. And there is a lot of federal land around Crested Butte. For your information: The majority of the ski area is situated on U.S. Forest Service land. Be aware.
It will be illegal to drive a vehicle while stoned and you cannot give marijuana to someone under 21. You also should not take it across state lines. As part of the state regulation, each marijuana plant will be tracked electronically from seed to sale. The tracking will be done through a high-tech radio frequency identification system.
Acme hopes to get the word out about the new situation in early January. The Acme Healing Center is inviting the public to attend a Hospitality Night on Tuesday, January 7th, from 6:30-9:00pm in “The Red Room”, downstairs at the Secret Stash. Crested Butte Mayor Aaron Huckstep will be speaking at the event and an open discussion will be held regarding the new marijuana laws and specifically the impact on guest services here in Crested Butte. A number of cannabis industry vendors will also be attending the event to answer questions about various products available to recreational users and medicinal patients. You must be 21 years of age or older to attend.