Terrapin Care Station has acquired Denver Relief, one of the longest operating dispensaries in the state. Pictured: Colorado marijuana entrepreneur Kayvan Khalatbari sits on the couch in the lobby of his medical and recreational marijuana store Denver Relief in August 2014. (Brennan Linsley, Associated Press file)

Terrapin Care Station buys Denver Relief’s marijuana shop in central Denver

The owner of Boulder’s first recreational marijuana store and Aurora’s first cannabis license is buying one of the longest-operating dispensaries in Colorado.

Terrapin Care Station, a blossoming Boulder-based recreational marijuana chain, is making an entrance into Denver proper by acquiring Denver Relief’s pot shop at 1 Broadway for an undisclosed sum, according to city licensing documents and individuals involved in the transaction.

The entrepreneurs involved say they expect more deals of this nature to occur in Colorado’s nascent marijuana industry.

“I think you’re going to continue to see more consolidation as the rules change here, as the ability to have up to 15 owners from out of state in one organization set in,” said Denver Relief co-owner Ean Seeb. “I believe this kind of consolidation will continue — and there are going to be fewer single-store operations in existence in six months from now than there are today.”

Denver Relief’s ever-expanding consulting business, Denver Relief Consulting, is not included in the transaction, officials told The Cannabist. Denver Relief co-owners Seeb, Kayvan Khalatbari and Nick Hice said they’re selling the recreational and medical shop and its sales licenses to focus on the consulting business and other projects with their Illinois-based partner Cresco Labs.

“As we’ve become more successful and gotten more busy with the consulting company,” Hice said, “it’s spread us all a little more thin and has become more difficult for us to keep the level of control on everything.”

Since helping fund Cresco’s application process in 2014, Denver Relief Consulting was offered an ownership stake in the Illinois firm, Khalatbari said.

“We’ve taken that ownership, and it’s carried onto other states and other projects,” he said. “And there are more opportunities of them taking on more work if we can come on board.”

Denver Relief Consulting also has ownership stakes in the Silver Sage Wellness medical marijuana dispensary in Las Vegas and other 420-adjacent businesses including MassRoots, Whaxy and Stink Sack maker Quark Distribution.

Since Genetic Locker Inc., which does business as Terrapin Care Station, opened its first medical dispensary in south Boulder in 2010, the business expanded with three recreational shops: one in central Boulder near CU-Boulder and two others in Aurora.

Terrapin’s next planned stop for a store was Eugene, Ore., where it is opening its first out-of-state dispensary, said Shawn Coleman, spokesman for Terrapin Care Station.

Opening a store in Denver resulted from “social capital,” Coleman said, adding that Terrapin’s owner Chris Woods had worked closely with Denver Relief’s owners during the 2012 Amendment 64 campaign to legalize marijuana in Colorado.

“It was more of an opportunity that came up because of the great relationships between the two businesses,” he said.

Coleman declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal.

Terrapin also emerged as a significant backer in the fight against the proposed Amendment 139, which would have imposed THC potency limits.

Earlier this month, the proponents behind the proposed Amendment 139 withdrew their ballot initiative.

After the acquisition, the staff at Denver Relief was re-interviewed by the new owners, who will retain “some of the employees,” according to Seeb.

Denver Relief’s ownership said they had multiple offers for the store, which sits in the heart of Denver’s bustling Baker neighborhood, but they sold it to Terrapin “because of (Terrapin president) Chris (Woods) and what he stands for as an advocate and activist,” Seeb said.