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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dispensaries Pop Up On The Western Slope

GJ Sentinel

Grand Junction is getting a little greener every day as medical marijuana dispensaries continue to pop up like weeds in the city’s retail landscape

Local estimates indicate seven medical marijuana dispensaries operate in Grand Junction, and eight more are expected in the coming weeks in all sections of the city, according to reports from established dispensaries. Medical marijuana has been available through lesser-known local venues. The storefronts began appearing this year.

The biggest hindrance to keeping more shops from opening in rapid succession in the Grand Valley might be property owners such as City Councilman Bill Pitts. Pitts and his son-in-law recently declined an offer to lease their North Avenue storefront to a medical marijuana dispensary.

“It may be legal, it may be the safest thing to do, but I’m going to decline the opportunity to rent them the space,” Pitts said. “In today’s economy it’s tough to turn down a paying renter. I don’t like the idea of selling legalized marijuana. Where I’ve got other tenants, they complain.”

It’s an issue other local landlords have had to deal with in recent months, Pitts said.

Unlike a growing number of municipalities in Colorado, Grand Junction does not have any ordinances on the books about how medical marijuana dispensaries set up shop.

The number of medical marijuana dispensaries increased sharply locally and statewide after July 20, when the Colorado Board of Health scrapped the limit on the number of patients a dispensary can have.

Since 2000, medical marijuana has been legal for those who enroll in a state registry with a doctor’s approval. Patient names are not made public.

As of July 31, 393 Mesa County residents have obtained medical marijuana cards. The average age is 41 for all the state’s registered users, and 73 percent are male.

Almost immediately after the July 20 ruling, seven people inquired with Grand Junction’s Business Incubator Center on how to create a medical marijuana dispensary locally, and people still trickle through the door asking about starting up the business, said Chris Reddin, executive director of the incubator.

“People are coming in here interested in writing business plans, looking at it like a serious business,” she said.

New medical marijuana dispensaries so worried city leaders in Craig that they raced to put an ordinance on the books, placing a 60-day moratorium on the creation of any such stores in city limits. Problem was, Mayor Don Jones said, operators of a medical marijuana dispensary got wind of the impending ban and quickly set up shop, sliding in before the ordinance took effect. The store is Craig’s first and only medical marijuana dispensary and is near the town’s small Western-themed core. The ordinance runs through October, Jones said, but city leaders are expected to extend it another 60 days.

“There was nothing we could do,” Jones said. “All they need is a sales tax license.”

1 comment:

SunflowerPipes.com said...

The fact that many millions of Americans have used pot has not translated into real political pressure on the people who can change the laws. One of the problems inhibiting legalization is that people who smoke a glass pipe are not considered serious or mature. It is this stigma that scares many pot users to hide that they utilize the drug. It is up to us to be public about our choices and to make sure our voices are heard by the ones that ultimately decide what the rules are. Send an email, send a letter make a phone call, every hand written Letter that makes it to a representative is considered to be the voice of thousands of people who did not take the time to write.