Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
Industrial brokers estimate that medical-marijuana grow houses have leased more than 1 million square feet of warehouse space — about the size of the Republic Plaza office building downtown — over the past year, propping up a commercial real estate market that has had a glut of vacant space.
"Growers have saved numerous warehouse owners from going under in this economy," said Nick King, co-owner of Alpine Herbal Wellness, a medical-marijuana dispensary in Cherry Creek. "Without the influx of cannabis growers, many of these warehouses would be forced into short sale or foreclosure."
Under House Bill 1284, signed into law in June, medical-marijuana dispensaries are required to grow 70 percent of the product they sell. The new law had dispensary owners scrambling to find warehouses to convert into grow facilities.
"It's like calling all the burger joints in town and saying now you have to raise your own cows," said Eric DeWine, co-owner of Patients Choice of Colorado.
Patients Choice, among the state's largest dispensaries based on the number of patients, had to scale back the number of people it serves until its new grow house is completed. Under the law, the location of grow houses is confidential for security reasons.
But despite a sluggish real estate market, it was difficult to persuade warehouse owners to lease to a marijuana grower — at first, said John Wickens, an independent broker who since February has done grow-house deals totaling about 500,000 square feet.
"When I first started doing this, we'd call a building and the landlord would say, 'No,' " Wickens said. "Six months later, one of four are saying, 'Let's do this.' "