Marijuana dispensaries are a real business in town— and a good business

The Crested Butte News office is located at Third and Belleview. About six months ago this astute newspaper reporter-type started noticing strange people wandering toward the C-Zone along Third Street, guided by the map on their smart phones. As I would walk the dog, many of them would stop us and ask where the dispensary was located.
“Right around the corner,” Mojo would point and off they’d continue toward what has become the unofficial M-zone.
As I chatted with the managers of the three open dispensaries this week, it became clear that the business of selling legal marijuana is anchoring itself as one of the town’s busiest and most popular industries—a real part of the local tourist attractions. Hundreds of visitors of every age, economic class and educational background have strolled over to Belleview and the local recreational and medical marijuana dispensaries. And they are buying weed. Lots of weed.

The state of Colorado recently released a report estimating that the annual demand for marijuana in the state is more than 130 metric tons. That is close to 290,000 pounds of marijuana. According to the Denver Post’s Cannabist Column, that demand for pot weighs more than a space shuttle or a blue whale—but not as much as locomotive. Sounds like something a cannabis columnist would spend time figuring out. Cool.
And all of that weed translates into hundreds of millions of dollars into the state economy. It employs people and infuses the Colorado economy.
Some of those benefits are centered here in Crested Butte. And that is a good thing.
Given the fact that recreational marijuana is a new industry, no one knew for certain how it would all play out. But here in Crested Butte in the M-zone, it seems to be going pretty smoothly. While the town won’t be able to release sales tax figures specific to marijuana stores until the July numbers come out, the pot stores are busy.

As I chatted with the owners or managers of the Crested Butte dispensaries, it became obvious they all take the business seriously. They treat it with care and a responsibility to the customers here on vacation looking to recreate with a one-hitter or a candy bar. They all emphasized the wide variety of clients and how happy those people from Texas, or Arkansas or Oklahoma are to be able to legally purchase marijuana. “We are discovering that everyone smokes weed,” said Acme Healing Center general manager David Niccum.
Talking to the local cops, the local EMS personnel and the local weeders, I found they are all cool with the local legal situation. The majority of clients appear to be of the middle age or older demographic as opposed to high school kids hoping to score a quick joint. There is still a black market here.
Those running the local dispensaries have been careful to be educational in their approach. They try to tell people to not go hog wild when they light up or eat the candy bar. They are being responsible stewards of their emerging businesses. From what I’ve seen, they are presenting smiling faces to a large contingent of tourists. In other words, while they all admit they are still learning about running a legal marijuana business, they are doing things right.
And that reflects well on Crested Butte. So at the halfway mark of the summer, let’s give kudos to the newest Crested Butte entrepreneurs. They are doing what they said they would do and it is working. Cheers.

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