Beacon for pot lovers

Newly approved Carbondale shop draws interest far and wide

Caroline Alberino of Carbondale, one of the first retail customers ever at the Doctor’s Garden in Carbondale, surveys the selection in the store on its opening day of retail sales Wednesday. “I’m just so thrilled to be a part of history. I just never thought it would happen,” she said.

CARBONDALE — Yesterday may have been a Wednesday, but it was Black Friday in Carbondale, as town resident Caroline Alberino put it.

“Only nobody’s clawing or Tasing each other,” Alberino said as she waited patiently with about 15 other customers for the doors to open for the first retail marijuana sales in Carbondale.

For that matter, they were the first retail sales anywhere near Interstate 70 west of Summit County. The Doctor’s Garden medical dispensary was able to begin selling retail pot after winning its final approval from the town a night earlier. For the store, the town’s action was the final step in a process kicked off by state voters’ approval of a 2012 ballot measure legalizing recreational pot use and paving the way for retail sales.

“I scored!” Gary Pax of Carbondale exclaimed after making his purchase. He arrived in frigid temperatures at 7 a.m. and waited two and a half hours for the chance to be the first customer to buy retail marijuana in the town.

“This is great. I never thought I’d live to see this day,” Pax said.

Pax said he served as a medic in Vietnam, and he and his buddies thought then that marijuana use would be legal within a matter of years.

“I’m here for a lot of guys who can’t be here,” Pax said.

“Oddly enough, I don’t use it,” he said of marijuana. “I’m just here because I can buy it.”

He planned to have the edible product he bought Wednesday framed along with a local newspaper headline proclaiming the arrival of retail pot sales in Carbondale.

“I’m going to smoke it,” Doug Tucker, fourth in line, quickly interjected, making clear his own plans for his purchase.

He’s thrilled that people no longer face jail time for using a substance he believes hurts no one.

“I’m proud of my state for legalizing marijuana,” said Tucker, who had a camera around his neck to document the morning’s events.

“I wanted to record history,” he said.

Others viewed the events in Carbondale similarly.

“I’m just so thrilled to be a part of history. I just never thought it would happen,” Alberino said.

“It’s just a monumental event. It’s an amazing moment in our history,” said Soozie Lindbloom of Carbondale.

Not everyone who sipped coffee and nibbled on bagels and doughnuts outside the Doctor’s Garden doors Wednesday felt comfortable giving their names. Some worried about the potential implications for their jobs if their marijuana use became public.

“A lot of people don’t look at it the way we do,” said one construction worker from Nucla.

He stopped by while heading to work in the area.

“We just had a few minutes this morning and got the chance to check it out,” he said.

Marc Horwitz of Moab said he was visiting Glenwood Springs with his wife, Terry, and mother, Mona, 89, and decided to take the side trip to Carbondale to buy what he can’t legally in Utah.

“I think he came (to Colorado) for this,” his mother said with a smile. “… He’s a big boy, he can do what he wants.”

There should be a federal right to buy and use marijuana, Marc Horwitz said, lamenting the difference in laws between Colorado and other states.

“I’m the same American as you are, I’m just 300 miles that way,” he said.

Mona Horwitz notes that she also was alive during alcohol’s Prohibition era.

“Prohibition didn’t work the first time I saw it. It doesn’t work now,” she said.

The opening of Doctor’s Garden to retail sales is winning the store widespread attention and its owners say it’s getting calls even from faraway states.

“One guy actually did ask me if I could ship it,” said James Leonard, one of the store’s owners. “I was like, no, we still can’t do that.”

Robert Pinchuck, a co-owner, said some Aspen hotels have been calling the store because of the anticipated interest from their guests.

The Silverpeak Apothecary in Aspen has received final approval for retail sales there but reportedly may not open until next month as it works out supply issues.

Doctor’s Garden is hoping supplies hold out for now and is pursuing the town’s approval later this month for a retail grow facility. It exercised its right to conduct a one-time transfer of its medical marijuana supply for retail use in the meantime.

A line more than a dozen customers deep persisted at the store nearly an hour into its opening Wednesday morning, and lines reportedly continued into the afternoon.

An eighth of an ounce of marijuana at the store cost $55 Wednesday for Roaring Fork Valley residents, $60 for other Coloradans and $69 for people living out of state, with those amounts including hefty taxes.

Explaining the price break for locals, Leonard said, “Those are my people that are going to be my customers two years from now.”


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I guess I’ll be spending some money in Carbondale along with many others from across the western United States. So sad Mesa County is run by reactionary ideologues.

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