Left to right, Danielle Hackett and Chantelle Hackett-Smith, nieces of the owners, and Abby McLean complete a sale at BotanaCare 21+ in Northglenn on Jan. 1. (Photo By Craig F. Walker / The Denver Post)

Northglenn sisters, pioneering steelworkers, now run marijuana store

If running a retail marijuana business seems chaotic and hard work, don’t come crying to the Hackett sisters.

Robin and Cheri Hackett, owners of BotanaCare Medical Cannabis Center in Northglenn, know that growing and selling pot is easy money compared with the work they did erecting steel decks.

The sisters were teens when they started working at their father’s Hackett Decking. In 1980 at age 18, Robin became Colorado’s first female journeyman ironworker, followed by Cheri and their since-deceased sister Pam.

Women in the steel business during the 1980s had a rough time.

“Dad put us up with the crew, but they didn’t want to work with us,” Cheri said. “So we became the crew.”

The Hacketts did steel work at Mile High Stadium, Coors Field, NORAD and Stapleton International Airport.

In 1988, Robin fell 35 feet off a steel beam at Stapleton, suffering severe spinal injuries. She endured intense pain for years before finally turning to opiate painkillers. The pain meds were even worse, causing complications and making her a home shut-in.

“I was tough — I was the first girl ironworker — but I was just a shell of my former self,” Robin said.

She resisted a friend’s persistent suggestions to try marijuana for pain relief until 2008, when she ate a cannabis-infused cookie.

“Oh, my God, I had not had that kind of pain relief in 10 years,” Robin said.

As a fervent believer in marijuana’s medicinal benefits, Robin said it was a natural for her to join again in business with Cheri and open the dispensary.

“We’ve always been a team,” Robin said. “It’s not always easy. Sometimes we fight and we cry. But five minutes later, we kiss and make up. There’s work to do.”

This story was first published on DenverPost.com