EDGEWATER —Three months after Edgewater became the first city in Jefferson County to open retail marijuana shops, business owners and city officials say business is booming and nary a problem has been reported.
“We wanted to make sure we got it right the first time and wouldn’t have to keep coming back to fix things,” said Edgewater Mayor Bonnie McNulty.
Edgewater police chief John Hough said his department hasn’t gotten a single complaint or call to any one of the city’s four pot shops.
“We do extra patrol checks at the dispensaries every night,” Hough said. “I’ve done a number of walk-throughs and they have everything in place and have been very cooperative and willing to work with us.”
Two of the existing medical marijuana dispensaries converted to recreational on Jan. 1. Northern Lights Cannabis Co., 2045 Sheridan Blvd., went into dual recreational and medical sales, while Bud Med Health Center, 2517 Sheridan Blvd., dropped medical sales to focus entirely on recreational.
“We were slammed with retail sales, and this is a small space and there’s so many more rules about running a dual shop, like not crossing inventory, that we decided to focus entirely on retail,” said Ashley Easton, Bud Med manager.
Both stores said they knew there’d be high demand for retail product but were floored at the amount of people who stood in line for hours the first week.
“It was like nothing I could have anticipated,” said Eva Woolhiser, co-owner of Northern Lights Cannabis Co. “The excitement, the adrenaline at being a part of history. Everyone that came through the door couldn’t believe they had this opportunity.”
Other retail stores in the mix include New Age Medical, 2553 Sheridan Blvd., which began retail sales on March 28 to complement its existing medical side, and Greenwerkz Medical at 5840 W. 25th Ave., which hopes to begin offering retail by May.
Northern Lights and Bud Med both had to almost double the number of employees and are still struggling to keep up with demand.
“We’re looking for more space to increase grow operations,” said Eva’s husband, Mitch Woolhiser.
Buyers across all social and economic backgrounds stop into the stores, with lawyers standing in line to buy marijuana next to construction workers or leather-clad bikers.
“I’ve also been surprised at how fast edibles and pre-rolled joints have been flying off the shelves,” Easton said. “Turns out people just love them and we’re selling them like crazy.”
Eva Woolhiser gave a nod to the city of Edgewater for being easy to work with.
“Every step of the way, every state entity wanted to gouge us for fees,” she said, “and all Edgewater asked for was a $50 business fee.”
“I think our city feels you treat businesses alike and don’t get greedy and try to take advantage of people,” said city manager HJ Stalf.
Due to the low number of shops in the city, officials weren’t allowed to disclose how much sales tax the city has collected since retail stores opened Jan. 1.
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Edgewater, Wheat Ridge and Mountain View are the only cities in Jefferson County that allow retail marijuana. Arvada recently banned the stores, and Lakewood has a moratorium in place until Jan. 1, 2015.
Due to Edgewater zoning regulations, new pot businesses must be at least 500 feet from schools, childcare facilities and halfway houses, as well as other marijuana businesses.
That means there’s only room for one more pot shop in Edgewater, and a business has already initiated the planning process to open the final dispensary/recreational store at 6020 W. 20th Ave.
“It’s extremely unlikely there will be any more,” Stalf said. “In fact, there’s three of them that if they shut down, the land use code would not allow a new shop to open in their place or anywhere else in the city.”
Austin Briggs: 303-954-1729, firstname.lastname@example.org