Colorado was among the first states who legalized recreational marijuana in 2014, after the passing of Amendment 64 in 2012. Many states expected Colorado to fare quite badly in its approach to marijuana, but so far it is probably the best example of marijuana implementationin the USA. Its light touch regulatory policy has meant that people simply smoke marijuana, as they have always done for thousands of years, with little fuss or drama. This can be contrasted with many other states who are struggling to make deadlines and supply the required regulatory infrastructure. The two main considerations are that marijuana is kept out of reach for those under the age limit and that the marijuana is tested for toxins.
Medical Dispensaries in Basalt, Colorado
But that does not mean that just anyone can open their own shop or dispensary in Colorado. Just applying to the state for a basic medical marijuana retail license can cost between $9,000 and $22,000 depending on the number of patients that are estimated to visit the facility. In the aftermath of Amendment 64, the town of Basalt permitted the opening of two medical marijuana dispensaries and two recreational outlets. There is currently one medical marijuana license up for grabs with the other three slots taken. Though one medical marijuana license has been taken no dispensary has been constructed as of yet.
After spending $4,000 in application fees, Kale Lacroux and Justin Streeb are finally starting to see a light at the end of the regulatory tunnel. They are attempting to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Basalt by obtaining the second medical dispensary license. They began the application process earlier this year for a property they have owned since 2008 in the “Frying Pan Inn Building”. They understood that the chances of getting permission were close to zero. But just 2 weeks ago, the Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission voted 5-1 to approve their application to modify the town code to include medical marijuana dispensaries as a “community vitality uses.”
Recreational marijuana dispensaries are considered legitimate operations in the town’s vitality zone. But medical marijuana dispensaries currently are not. With the stamp of approval, the pair will go before the Basalt Town Council in hopes of getting their vitality zone application writ in municipal stone. At the same time, they hope the council will pass on first reading the license application to open their medical marijuana business.
The pair are cautiously optimistic that their application will get accepted. But there is opposition from four tenants that share the same building, mainly about the odor generated from cannabis. There are 7 other tenants with 4 on board and 3 against the medical marijuana dispensary. However, the concern about odors is held to be overblown in general. While cannabis has a very strong odor, medical facilities are required by legislation to keep this odor to a minimum and have wrappings and plastics at hand to ensure the locale is as odor free as possible. Of greater concern is the stigma concerning cannabis use. Most likely the tenants are against the dispensary because marijuana is seen as a seedy black alley operation, which will attract the wrong kind of crowd.
People with traditionally “respectable” businesses do not want to operate in the same premises as a marijuana dispensary. But these fears are groundless and the added business of many individuals will actually bring customers to businesses in close proximity to the dispensaries. And for any concerns surrounding crime, studies have proven that criminal occurrences actually go down when medical marijuana dispensaries open and shoot up in the immediate aftermath of dispensaries closing shop. This goes against the typical stigma of cannabis being associated with crime, when the only association is that it brings crime levels down.
Marijuana for Business
Streeb and Lacroux are serious about making their medical marijuana industry a success (applications and permits permitting) and are convinced that the dispensary would add much value to Basalt from a business perspective. As per Lacroux:
“In addition to the increased sales tax revenue, we intend to give out $5 coupons for local fly shops and hair-dressing salons…Hopefully, our customers will use those coupons, which means other businesses will see a direct benefit. And, if our customers don’t use those coupons, they will still serve as good advertising for other local businesses.”
All historical data does indicate that marijuana is good for business and society in general and that it has very little side effects. In nearly all states where marijuana has been legalized, there has been a reduction in the use of opiates and other drugs, increased revenues and decreased crimes. Also of note is that there are less road traffic fatalities and road accidents in general. The biggest fight that marijuana has to win is against age old stigma surrounding use of the plant, which is ill founded. Marijuana is simply not the evil that some believe it to be and it will not lead to any sort of societal degradation. More often than not the opposite is the case.