TELLURIDE — They aren’t hiding it up here any more.
Lucas DaSilva of Georgia drove through the night and slept in his car with his dog Marley before settling at the front door of the Telluride Green Room around dawn Wednesday. A few hours later, he emerged from the store $180 lighter but holding six grams of African Queen, Acapulco Gold and Bubble Gum herb, and several edibles.
“I’m at a loss for words. Happy New Year!” he yelled, arms outstretched amidst cheers from the line. “This is history I just made. I can’t believe it. Such a blessing.”
Lines a couple dozen deep stretched outside the doors of downtown’s Alpine Wellness and the Telluride Green Room all morning Wednesday.
San Miguel County Commissioner Art Goodtimes was first in line at Alpine Wellness. A marijuana enforcement division officer wandered between Telluride’s two stores, doing little more than watching.
Michael Grady woke up New Year’s Eve and read his full-page ad in the Telluride Watch.
“Prohibition Ends At Last,” it read.
“It kind of brought a little tear to my eye,” said the owner of Alpine Wellness and Alpine Edibles, which ships “Ganjala” taffy candies to 40 medical dispensaries around Colorado, marking one of the first exports for Telluride since the mining bust in the late 1800s.
“We are at the forefront. We are pushing to do it and do it right and set a good standard,” said Grady, who expected hundreds of visitors to his retail marijuana store, which was overflowing with an arsenal of cannabis-infused Ganjala candies, Rice Krispies bars, balsamic vinegars, “Peppermint Fatty” chocolates and cookies as well as several strains of indica and sativa weed.
Grady required all buyers to sign a “customer agreement,” reminding them that smoking in public and on the ski area’s federal land is illegal, as is re-selling the goods or sharing with someone under 21.
“We want to make sure we are doing the most we can to educate people on the dos and don’ts,” Grady said. “If people don’t want to sign the agreement they don’t have to shop with us. It’s just extra precaution.”
Alpine Wellness and the Telluride Green Room expect to double their employee roster in the next few months. Both shops pay steep taxes too: 33.4 percent, broken down like this: 12.9 percent for state, 4.5 percent for the town, 1 percent for the county and a 15 percent excise tax directed toward school construction.
But the town and county’s support of marijuana isn’t about raising cash or growing tourism or even creating buzz, said Telluride Mayor Stu Fraser.
“We are embracing it because it’s the right thing to do,” Fraser said.