Carbondale pot dispensary eyes retail sales

As soon as Wednesday, Carbondale could become Colorado’s next stop for frenzied opening-day lines at a retail marijuana store.

If it wins licensing approval Tuesday night by the town trustees, the Doctor’s Garden, an existing medical marijuana outlet in town, expects to open its doors at 9 a.m. the next morning for retail sales. It would be the latest to open since such sales first became legal in Colorado at the start of the year.

The retail store also would be the first along the Interstate 70 corridor west of Frisco.

“We’re not exactly sure what to expect but we’re preparing for a crowd,” said store owner James Leonard.

Leonard said he expects approval from the town trustees, noting that he’s been operating there since 2010. He already has received the required state approval.

Town Clerk Cathy Derby hesitated to predict how the trustees will vote, but said Leonard’s application is complete and has undergone a thorough review by town police, building and administrative staff.

The application addresses issues such as security, and the need for separate entrances for the medical and retail facilities because medical pot is sold to people under 21, she said.

Derby said that should the retail outlet be allowed to open, she thinks it will be busy.

“I think it’s just because a lot of people, even older people who thought it should have been legalized years ago, they’re going to go just because they can,” she said.

She said she thinks some want to make purchases to celebrate what they view as a legal victory for them.

Long opening-day lines have been commonplace in other communities where retail stores have begun operating.

Leonard said he was hopeful but wasn’t sure whether state voters would approve Amendment 64, authorizing retail marijuana sales.

“We’ve been looking forward to this day for quite a long time,” he said.

In Aspen, medical marijuana site Silverpeak Apothecary also just won city approval for retail sales, but reportedly may not open until next month, by which time it hopes to have addressed supply issues.

Leonard has tried to accomplish that for the short-term by exercising his right to execute a one-time transfer of medical product for retail use. He’s hoping that will be enough to meet short-term needs, even with a possible crush of customers, and he will be seeking the town’s approval Jan. 28 for a retail grow facility.

He said he’s trying to get staffing in place for the expected rush of customers should he win the town approval.

“We’re trying to figure how to make it run as smoothly as possible,” he said. “... We’re going to be very busy.”

Meanwhile, retail marijuana sales could be coming to the town of Silt in western Garfield County as soon as this summer, if not sooner.

Medical marijuana sales currently aren’t allowed in the town, and the town trustees initially opposed allowing retail sales. Community development director Janet Aluise said she thinks the board majority wasn’t sure where the federal government would stand on retail sales in Colorado, and didn’t want to be caught in a situation where stores were allowed to open and then had to shut down. She said the board decided to proceed with allowing retail sales after the federal government said it wouldn’t take enforcement action against retail sales in the state, despite contradictions with federal law.

However, prior to July 1 the only retail sales that are allowed in Colorado are by medical marijuana establishments converting to retail. The town now is moving to consider allowing medical marijuana sales, but Aluise said the soonest that might be allowed, assuming the trustees approve it, is March 25, which would mean retail sales could begin then too.

The town is getting lots of inquiries from people interested in selling marijuana in town.

“We’ve had dozens of calls but I only have one application at this time,” Aluise said.


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