Legal Marijuana No Simple Matter for Colorado Retailers [FEATURE]

special to the Chronicle by Denver-based journalist Rebecca Chavez

Starting January 1, any person in Colorado over the age of 21 can walk into a retail marijuana facility and purchase marijuana with just a show of ID. While the process should be simple for those who choose to imbibe legally, things have not been so simple for the dispensary owners who have made the choice to sell retail marijuana. Luke Ramirez is one of these owners. His store, Walking Raven, sits on one of Denver's busiest streets.

For Ramirez, planning for retail marijuana sales began in February of 2012, when Walking Raven officially endorsed Amendment 64, the legalization initiative that won at the ballot that November. Even with almost two years of planning behind him, he finds that there are still a lot of hurdles to overcome. It wasn't until May of 2013 that Ramirez and other dispensary owners knew what would be expected of them by the state. Even with state legislation settled, Amendment 64 allows for municipalities to come up with even stricter rules for retail marijuana stores.

Denver started working on its own regulations in September, and wasn't done when the Chronicle spoke with Ramirez in late December. Though he was only the seventh person in the city of Denver to apply for a license, the constant changes mean that he won't be able to open until about January 10, over a week beyond the official start of recreational marijuana sales. In late December Ramirez was still getting calls about changes to marijuana laws at the city level.

The process has been similar for dispensary owners all over Denver, which means it might be one of the few places where a legal retail marijuana shortage will happen right away. The licensing for retail locations and retail grows is happening at the same time. This would be a problem for those trying to open on January 1, except that the state has allowed a one-time transfer of medical marijuana to retail. This transfer is how all stores will start, and it gives a little something extra to the consumer as well.

The edible companies have to go through the same process as other marijuana facilities, but some are opting out in the early stages. During the one time transfer, marijuana stores can make some edibles retail that otherwise wouldn't be available. This means some store owners are stockpiling certain items that they feel will be popular with retail consumers.

Ramirez has opted out of stockpiling because he simply can't afford it. The cost of selling retail marijuana is incredibly high, which prices smaller dispensaries out of an immediate switch. All told, Ramirez has spent $60,000 dollars going through the process of getting licensed and prepared to make the switch. Before he actually gets his license he expects to spend about $10,000 more.

Inside Walking Raven (Rebecca Chavez)
Money is a huge concern for retail marijuana dispensaries, and Ramirez is unsure of whether they will be able to make it all back during the first few months of retail sales. He acknowledges that the supply for retail just won't meet the demand, and worries that owners will see the same marijuana shortage that caused some of them to temporarily close their doors in 2012. This, of course, affects the people who work behind the counter. Ramirez wants to make sure that all of his employees are well-taken care of, but he acknowledges that he may have to cut back on hours at some point.

The marijuana shortage has another effect on the market. With marijuana prices possibly going as high as $70 for an eighth, Ramirez says that retail marijuana "won't get rid of the black market until supply meets demand."

In the meantime, his store and many others will have to compete with the grey market that has sprung up on Craigslist since the passage of Amendment 64.

Despite the many difficulties in his way, and the five inspections that he has to go through, Ramirez is confident that he is making the right choice. While he cannot sell retail marijuana at present, he is concerned to ensure that marijuana is still available for his current customers: medical marijuana patients.

"Patients definitely still need medicine," he says, and that's why he's sure to always have some on hand, segregated from retail marijuana for non-patients.

Retail and medical marijuana are sold in the same store, but they have to be kept in separate containers. Medicinal users can purchase retail, but retail consumers cannot get any of the medical marijuana regardless of a possible shortage. Despite eventual plans to sell only 10% of his product as medicinal, Ramirez is determined to always be able to take care of the patients.

They are, after all, the ones that supported him before the end of prohibition in Colorado.

Denver, CO
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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DaveMan50's picture

Medicinal goes recreational.

Hay what do you know An upstanding businessman.

Uuuber Creepy!

I wouldn't post that dudes picture. He looks so creepy.
Extreme Pacifist's picture

Marijuana Not Really Legal in Colorado

Marijuana not really legal in Colorado As more states follow the lead of Colorado, to legalize small amounts of marijuana, they will attach amendments to control the sale and production of cannabis, to ensure the profits of the corporate interests who will surely rise up out of this new market, and they will not end the war on drugs. They will still punish people for having more than the "legal" limit. It is either legal or illegal. Don't simply accept the government's version of legal cannabis, be cautious, and informed, but, don't settle for laws that continue to deprive all of us of our natural rights and freedoms. Marijuana is not as legal as you thought, in Colorado. Other states are preparing and adapting similar draconian laws to "legalize" marijuana, with so many restrictions and harsh penalties, that the drug war will not only continue, but, the... people will be forced to go to corporate, government sanctioned, dispensaries to buy Marijuana, or be punished to the full extent if the law. Trojan horse politics. "There are none more hopelessly enslaved, than those who falsely believe they are free." Von Goethe Colorado Penalty Details: Possession for Personal Use Private possession by persons 21 years of age or older of up to one ounce is no penalty. Private cultivation of up to six marijuana plants, with no more than three being mature is no penalty. Transfer of one ounce or less for no remuneration is no penalty. See: http://www.regulatemarijuana.org/s/regulate-marijuana-alcohol-act-2012 Possession of less than 2 ounces is a Class 2 petty offense that is punishable by a maximum fine of $100. The offender will be summoned and a court appearance is mandatory. Failure to appear in court is a Class 3 misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $500. Possession of between 2 and 6 ounces of marijuana is a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year imprisonment and a fine not to exceed $1,000. Possession of between 6 ounces and 12 ounces is a Class 1 misdemeanor which is punishable by up to eighteen months of imprisonment. Possession of more than 12 ounces is a Class 6 felony which is punishable by 1 year-18 months of imprisonment, as well as a fine between $1,000-$100,000. http://norml.org/laws/item/colorado-penalties I don't even use marijuana. For me, it's about freedom. Personal, individual, and health freedom. No one should be harassed or punished for using any substance, only if someone uses a substance and then causes harm to another person. That includes all legal substances, like alcohol and prescription drugs. "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat." Genesis 1:29 Decriminalize Cannabis. Not legalize it. Not taxed and regulated. Not marketed to consumers. Not advertised on TV or other mainstream media sources. Not sold in stores. Just decriminalize cannabis and hemp, and if someone wants to grow cannabis they can give it away or barter with neighbors; bag of oranges for bag of weed, etc... If anyone is caught selling it, they get fined, and deal with the IRS. If Marijuana is legalized, taxed and regulated by the government, and marketed and advertised by the corporations to the people, then there would be an epidemic of mindless consumers, like the way Wall Street markets tobacco and alcohol to the mindless consumers, and now we have an epidemic of addicted users, and millions of deaths annually. Just decriminalize Marijuana, it's a natural plant and flower. Peace.

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Legal Marijuana No Simple Matter for Colorado Retailers [FEATURE] | StoptheDrugWar.org gcjiiiux moncler outlet store

Each little flower that

Each little flower that opens", you've all sung it. Cannabis is a naturally occurring plant therefore it's a human right to use it. The war on drugs won't change, too much money in it, even the dreadful Hillary Clinton said so.

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With all the evidence that marijuana is not only helping people manage pain but also saving lives, it is shameful for him to use his influence to stop people's access to it!! viviana

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