We always wondered what would happen if the shackles came off the cannabis plant. Now we know! The business of buds is booming in the Rocky Mountain State, and cannabis entrepreneurs are staking out the future. Check out some of the best and brightest among Colorado’s commercial cannabis enterprises.
Making History Daily
The success of legalization has not only changed Colorado -- it’s changed HIGH TIMES as well. No longer are we confined to covering personal gardens; now we get to see industrial-size mega-grows, like the cultivation facilities of Patients Choice of Colorado -- an expansive, blooming testament to the new era of cannabis freedom that all of America will soon enjoy. Brooke Gehring is the managing partner of Patients Choice and oversees its four locations in the Denver area, three of which service both recreational and medical buyers.
A huge cultivation center is essential, Brooke says, because “our locations have seen 30,000 people walk through the doors -- 300 to 500 each day. In sales tax alone, we’ve raised $270,000 for the state in just the first two months of the year. We’re making history every day!” But the Patients Choice centers are very much neighborhood shops, places where buyers experience the same sense of community that other local boutiques offer. Plus the high quality of the products here reflects the stringent standards that Patients Choice maintains in its gardens, where 20-plus staffers are onsite 24/7 to keep the flow of outstanding cannabis sure and steady. Check out the extra- user-friendly Patients Choice website for strains and prices at all locations.
Denver: 2251 South Broadway; 4000 Morrison Road; Edgewater: 2517 Sheridan; patientschoiceofcolorado.com
An Empire in Pueblo
Michael Stetler, the director and master grower of Marisol Therapeutics in Pueblo, is a native Coloradoan with four generations of medical patients in his family. Marisol started big over five years ago with a gymnasium-sized greenhouse providing for the needs of Pueblo’s medical marijuana population. Now, with the arrival of full-blown legalization, Marisol has become one of the county’s biggest generators of tax revenue. Last year, it grew the largest legal outdoor marijuana garden in the United States, and Stetler currently oversees a huge indoor operation that encompasses more than an acre of warehouse space. Construction is also underway on four new greenhouses, and Michael hopes to harvest 10 acres of outdoor pot this fall.
The sheer breadth of Marisol’s operations has earned it the attention of the international press -- and the admiration of HIGH TIMES for its epic photo ops. Marisol’s dispensary is a spacious, high-ceilinged store in Pueblo West, right off Highway 50. A massive painting of a white buffalo greets customers upon entering: It’s part of the Marisol logo and reflects the company’s belief in new beginnings. There are scores of Marisol strains available here, all stocked in the spacious walk-in humidor, as well as counters for medical patients and recreational users.
922 E. Kimble Drive; marisolmed.com
Step into any LivWell location and you’ll experience a uniformity of store design featuring blonde wood cannabis showcases, well-conceived lighting and a sense of calm that infuses the cannabis buying experience. LivWell offers locations throughout the Denver metropolitan area and in Colorado Springs. Presently, only the S. Broadway and Larimer St. stores are open to recreational buyers. Stopping by on a Friday evening, business was brisk, but the airy waiting rooms enabled buyers to relax and ponder their pending purchase in a warm, friendly atmosphere. Everything required is available at LivWell for your cannabis needs: premium flowers, edibles, concentrates and all the necessary accessories.
432 S. Broadway, Denver; 2863 Larimer St.; livwellco.com.
Chris Hageseth, the chief operations officer of Green Man Cannabis, currently runs two medical dispensaries in Denver, both of which will offer recreational sales by summer- time. A third recreational and medical shop is set to open soon in Frisco, a ski-country town. With master grower Corey at his side, Chris is determined to take the cannabis scene by storm: Green Man strains have won multiple awards, including the 2012 Denver Medical Cannabis Cup for Best Hybrid, and this year’s prize for top U.S. Sativa. But Green Man’s biggest dreams rest in what Chris calls “the Weedery” (based on the concept of a winery). Ground is being broken this summer on a $25 million facility that will encompass cultivation, education and entertainment. “As we all know, cannabis and music go together,” Chris explains. “But I want to demystify marijuana.” To that end, the Weedery will house a grow facility open to the public for tours, a museum-like educational space featuring artifacts from America’s cannabis industry, and a 5,000-seat amphitheater for outdoor concerts.
Bowled Over in Boulder
Fresh Baked occupies a nondescript house along one of picturesque Boulder’s thoroughfares. Inside, however, it’s airy and sunlit—a haven of serenity. When you enter the purchasing area, you’ll find three separate counters staffed by friendly and knowledgeable budtenders, all of them exuding that uniquely Colorado vibe earned though fit, healthy lifestyles. Located on the edge of the University of Colorado campus, Fresh Baked has seen brisk business, especially on weekends and during Spring Break festivities. Its menu is extensive, boast- ing edibles, topicals and concentrates in addition to outstanding Colorado-grown strains. Fresh Baked took second place in the hybrids category with Jack Flash at the 2012 High Times Medical Cannabis Cup in Denver.
2539 Pearl Street; freshbakedboulder.blogspot.com
Buds of Breckenridge
Gold miners were the earliest settlers of Breckenridge, and the first ski resort didn’t open here until 1961. But now this mountain town is the ski hub for the eastern slopes of Colorado’s Ten Mile Range, which draws millions of tourists in both winter and summer. The Breckenridge Cannabis Club, owned and operated by locals Caitlin McGuire and Brian Rogers, is situated in a quaint and rustic two-story house right on Main Street. The club opened its doors as a medical dispensary in 2010, and now it welcomes recreational buyers as well, with 100 different cannabis products available and some of the lowest prices in the state.
226 Main Street; medicalmarijuanabreckenridge.com
Livin' Large in Leadville
In its heyday during the Colorado Silver Boom of the 1800s, Leadville was the site of miner camps that housed some 40,000 people. Now it’s a tourist spot steeped in Old West history in the heart of the Rockies, with a population of around 3,000. Just off Harrison Avenue, Leadville’s main drag, you can find Nature’s Spirit, a family-owned business housed in a cozy white bungalow. Nature’s Spirit offers top Colorado strains lovingly grown by the owners, who pride themselves on their 100 percent organic soilless medium and nutrients, reverse-osmosis water filtration and CO2 injections. Delicious edibles and powerful concentrates are also available at this friendly neighborhood pot shop.
113 East Seventh Street; naturesspirit420.com
John, Josh, Matt and Mike beheld the world of cannabis extractions and saw a golden opportunity. The result is two companies that offer specialized services to the state’s ganja-preneurs. The first, Extract Outfitters, allows its cannabusiness clients to maintain complete control over all aspects of the extraction process in their facilities. Instead of building costly labs, these businesses can rely on portable and cost-effective setups in a variety of configurations that offer savings and efficiency and are compliant with Colorado’s guidelines -- and Extract Outfitters handles all of the plans, permits and installation.
The foursome’s second company, TC Labs, operates a massive grow tailored to concentrate production. Its services include not only selling concentrates wholesale, but providing processing operations to businesses that wish to forgo the exacting undertaking of making concentrates themselves.
Location, Location, Location …
There’s a good reason for MMJ America’s name: With legalization poised to sweep the nation, this ambitious canna-company is actively investigating franchises in other states. But on a more local note, you gotta love MMJ’s LoDo (lower downtown) location, which even boasts its own parking lot. Of course, there’s a whole lot to love about MMJ America besides hassle-free parking. Customers can purchase a wide range of recreational and medical strains here. (The other MMJ America locations in Denver and Boulder are medical-only.) Even better, its pot products are superb, and the personable MMJ America workers behind the counter will guide you to your ideal strain. You can also check out its voluminous “Strain Library” online.
2042 Arapahoe Street; mmjamerica.com
Just Around the Corner
Have we stepped through some kind of time warp or what? Good Chemistry is located in downtown Denver—just around the corner from the Colorado statehouse! Five years ago, this would have been unthinkable. But as Good Chemistry general manager Steve Spinosa says, “It’s been crickets—no one’s complaining. Our neighbors have spoken out on our behalf, and we’ve actually been able to help cops with crimes because of our camera surveillance.”
But really … next to the Capitol? How times have changed—for the better! Good Chemistry offers both medical and recreational strains with only a $5 difference in price. The shop’s also got a nice neighborhood feel to it, with multiple budtenders taking care of customers with friendliness and efficiency.
330 East Colfax, Denver; goodchem.org
The Clinic has been at the forefront of Colorado’s cannabis scene since medical marijuana first took root here. Its reputation is impeccable, and its pot is even better! With six locations to oversee, general manager Ryan Cook has had his hands full keeping good medicine on the shelves for patients, while also navigating the transition from medical-only to recreational sales. On January 1, the Clinic Colorado on Mexico Avenue was the first to make the changeover -- the only location in the Clinic network currently selling recreational pot. But with no other advertising than a Facebook post, 1,000 buyers still lined up to buy cannabis. No big surprise there, however, since the Clinic has won four HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup awards, including the 2014 Denver Cannabis Cup for US concentrates.
Denver: 3888 East Mexico Avenue; thecliniccolorado.com
The Wait Is Over
Forrest Charlesworth owns and operates New Age Medical, which has one location in Edgewater and two more in Colorado Springs. (Unfortunately, there’s a moratorium currently in place on recreational pot sales in Colorado Springs.) Back when he was waiting for his Edgewater location to go recreational, Forrest expressed some frustration. “I’m about as patient as I can be,” he said, “what with all the regulations that are constantly Forrest changing.”
As the New Year rang in, Forrest watched nearby recreational shops clean up -- but as of April 1, he had fulfilled the requirements of the state’s pot bureaucracy and was able to welcome all adults, ages 21 and over, to sample the buds of New Age Medical. “It’s not like I wasn’t ready,” he says now. “I’ve got a 5,000-square-foot grow in Colorado Springs, and I’m about to start a 3,000-square-foot grow up here. I’m ready to go.” And to prove it, he’s offering great strains at great prices!
2553 Sheridan Boulevard, Edgewater
Slowly but Surely ...
In Buena Vista, at an elevation of 8,000 feet, master growers Josh Shipman and Je Cain oversee the three greenhouses devoted to the 40-plus strains of Fremont County Cannabis. Approximately 3,000 feet below, in Canon City, the FCC center provides medicine for some 300 patients every week.
Fremont County Cannabis is awaiting Canon City’s decision to open the door to recreational sales as well, but the process has been slow. The local pols want to see how legalization progresses; because the city’s economy depends on family-fun vacations, they want to make sure marijuana fits in. But with Colorado reaping a whopping windfall in tax revenues, Fremont County Cannabis is confident that it will get the okay to open its new retail center in July -- right across the street from the stone walls of the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility! And once recreational sales are the norm, FCC plans to develop its nearby mountain property into a campground tailored to cannabis-themed vacations.
Help is On The Way
Colorado's new recreational laws allow adults to grow up to 12 plants on their property. Sounds good, but what if you don’t know how? Pinnacle Consultation to the rescue! Pinnacle is the brainchild of Kristopher Fowlkes, who spent a few years in the Army before jumping into Colorado’s cannabis scene when he saw the chance for an ancillary business. If you’re lost in the growroom, Kris can help you find your way: Pinnacle will design and install one in whatever space you have, then solve your gardening problems as well with a per-harvest service contract ($250 per every 1,000 watts of grow op). “Our goal is to make growing simpler and easier,” Kris says. “Most people develop a green thumb pretty quick.” Pinnacle also operates its own gardens, serving as a medical caregiver.
The Rise of Dixie
In a short span of time, Dixie Elixirs has distinguished itself as a premier producer of THC-infused edibles, topicals and tinctures. The company started off as the maker of cannabis soda pop, but now it boasts close to 40 products. Dixie Elixirs is currently finishing up its new digs, a 27,000-square-foot industrial space that will house a kitchen, lab, production facilities and the company’s head- quarters (complete with an onsite gym). By the end of the year, it expects to employ a staff of 80. Chief marketing officer Joe Hodas says, “We want Dixie Elixirs to be a showcase for the industry. We want everyone to see how success can be achieved when you bring good business practices to your operation.”
The Green Solution is an example of what you get when you combine cultivation expertise, customer service and quality control: success! With three of its four locations dedicated to medical and recreational sales, the Green Solution’s wide-ranging selection of strains has been a huge hit. The Green Solution has over 110 strains in its inventory, as well as tinctures, topicals, pre-rolls, and beverages. And they kicked ass at this year’s U.S. Cup! (see page 65)
Denver: 601 West Alameda Avenue; Denver East: 4400 Grape Street; North- glenn: 470 Malley Drive; tgscolorado.com