Now that recreational marijuana has been legalized in Colorado, several of the state’s entrepreneurs are scrambling to begin marijuana-related ventures of their own. Business people in the area have begun referring to the opportunity as the “great pot rush” in anticipation of untold fortunes. One obstacle faced by many, however, is obtaining the proper zoning permits. The state isn’t sure how it will facilitate the construction of facilities dedicated to selling what was, until recently, an illegal substance.
Meanwhile, in Denver, existing dispensaries aren’t able to keep up with demand, and vendors are selling 500 pounds of pot per month. A San Francisco angle investment network, ArcView Group, projects that the cannabis industry will grow 64 percent nationwide by the end of 2014. Should the prediction prove true, the industry overall will be worth over $2-billion by then. Additionally, according to the same report, if several other states jump on the legalization bandwagon, the industry could be worth over $10-billion by 2010.
These projections are spurring investment from around the world. Medicine Man, one of Denver’s largest dispensaries, is investing millions into their distribution capacity in a bid to become the first large-scale cannabis retail outlet. This firm is far from the only company with such ambitions, however.
Marijuana Super Store
In the small town of Eagle, Colorado, the locals are debating what may prove to be the hot-topic issue of the decade: whether to allow the construction of what would essentially be the Costco or Wal-Mart of weed. Rocky Mountain Pure Retail Marijuana, brainchild of investor Ethan Borg, would be the first of its kind, selling myriad strains of weed. The retail outlet would also sell weed accessories. The facility will conform to these specifications:
• 45,000 square foot greenhouse
• 22,500 square foot cannabis cultivation space
• 12,000 square feet pigeonholed as “other commercial space”
• 6,000 square foot retail space
• 3,750 square foot prohibition museum
• 3,600 square foot extraction laboratory
Such a facility would easily qualify as the largest retail marijuana facility in the world, and would go a long way to securing Colorado’s reputation as the new marijuana capital. However, Borg has chosen a somewhat scenic location for his project, and not all the citizens of Eagle, Colorado, are thrilled at the honor.
As of July 2014, the zoning commission has approved the plan with a few stipulations, reminding Borg that they have the final say in whether the project goes through. Town planner Tom Boni, when speaking about the stipulations, noted that the construct is “terribly large,” and stated that several members of the zoning commission feel that the facility would fundamentally change the character of the town.
The zoning commission informed Borg that he would have to comply with all existing state licensing regulations, in addition to any new regulations that may be put in place regarding the sale of recreational cannibals. This requirement could delay the project significantly because the state of Colorado has not yet created a special-use permit for such products.
On February 11, 2014, the town held a public hearing so that citizens could air their concerns. Few participants spoke up. Resident Barbara Allen stated adamantly, “the valley must be saved from being inundated with pot.” She asked those in attendance whether they wanted the tourism that would result from the construction, pointing out that the town—with a population under 10,000—would receive hundreds of thousands of guests each year.
Additionally, Allen claimed that production of marijuana in California has caused “land and water pollution.” It is worth noting, however, that much of the environmental damage she spoke of is the result of unregulated—illegal—marijuana production. The proposed Eagle facility would produce its own product in line with existing Colorado regulations. Allen ended her turn at the mike by saying, “I would rather see the number of alcohol stores double in Edwards around the schools rather than see one recreational marijuana dispensary.”
Borg had this to say, “Rocky Mountain Pure will be a destination that Coloradans and visitors alike will come to know as the location to not only purchase the best available products, but to learn about the wonders of cannabis and the last 90 years of prohibition.” Borg was quick to point out that investors are handling the $5-million bill for the facility, and that the facility could bring in upwards of $500,000 in tax revenue for Eagle annually. Regardless of what happens in Eagle over the next year, with the U.S. economy still recovering from the Great Recession, it is fair to assume that facilities such as Rocky Mountain High will become a reality in Colorado or Washington within a few years.