Palisade pot for pleasure
A small crowd gathered in the lobby one afternoon earlier this week, waiting to have their driver’s licenses entered into the system. Some cast eager eyes around the corner toward the bar — the “bud bar” — a waist-high, expansive glass display case decorated with worn, wooden peach boxes, a nod to Palisade’s agricultural roots.
The customers were after one thing, available now in the Grand Valley: recreational marijuana.
The Colorado Weedery, 125 Peach Ave., No. C, is the first recreational marijuana store to open in the Grand Valley. The business is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week and plans to host a grand opening Sept. 23.
The building’s adjoining business, Colorado Alternative Health Care, has provided medical marijuana since 2009, and that business model remains as is.
Palisade voters approved recreational sales for the town last November, and The Colorado Weedery is the first to open its doors after owner Jesse Loughman worked through the local and state process.
Two more recreational marijuana stores can locate in Palisade, but the lottery process for choosing those stores and a subsequent timeline for opening is at least a few months out, considering a host of regulations to which business owners must adhere.
De Beque is the only other municipality in Mesa County that allows recreational marijuana sales.
After Loughman posted notice on the store’s Facebook page of the recreational marijuana business opening earlier this week, it was forwarded to more than 15,000 people within several hours.
“The plan is to not to run out of anything,” he said of stocking products and the expected crowds.
In general, the store will offer “deli style” marijuana flowers or buds at about $9 each, depending on size. An eighth of an ounce of marijuana runs about $30.
Loughman said he’ll offer 14 or 15 strains of high-quality marijuana, and those will always be stocked and available.
Each transaction includes a $5 excise fee, a tax that goes to the town of Palisade that was also approved by voters. In the first few days of opening, the store collected $1,700 in excise fees, Loughman said, money he’s happy to hand over to help boost town revenue.
Loughman said he’s not interested in running “specials” because it implies a hierarchy of product quality.
“If it’s priced right and the product is right, every day is a special,” he said. “We’re not going to be the cheapest. We’re also not here to gouge people because we’re the only dispensary.” The store carries a number of packaged marijuana products, including patches, vaporizer pens, concentrated marijuana wax, edibles, packaged blunts and loose marijuana.
Loughman has hired 13 people and expects to hire more for the recreational marijuana side. Employees are eligible for benefits after 90 days of work.
Budtenders manage six registers, which should keep the customer flow going, he said.
The store’s interior sports an industrial feel, with old gas lines acting as support for shelving. Loughman crafted designs of mountains, a sun and Colorado logos out of iron to protect the windows.
“I wanted to give it the Palisade flavor,” he said. “The trustees wanted a classy representation of Palisade.”
Loughman said he purposefully did not place an ATM inside the store in an effort to direct people to also check out the nearby Palisade Brewery and Peach Street Distillers, both of which have ATMs. Marijuana sales still are cash-only because federal laws prohibit banks from taking marijuana money.
The dispensary’s name is a play on words with one of those neighboring businesses, Loughman said.
“It’s the happiest block in North America,” Loughman said. “That’s what we call it.”