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Maggie's Farm opens to eager customers, makes retail marijuana history in El Paso County

By: stephen hobbs
August 1, 2014 Updated: August 1, 2014 at 7:07 am
Caption +
Carl Thomason looks over a case full of marijuana possibilities at the new recreational marijuana store in Manitou Springs on Thursday, July 31, 2014. Maggie's Farm is the first recreational marijuana store in El Paso County. (The Gazette/Jerilee Bennett)

Kevin "Sarge" Mac Donald came out of Maggie's Farm retail marijuana shop clutching a white bag with an eighth of an ounce of Jesus OG.

Mac Donald, who represents Ward 1 on the Manitou Springs City Council, spent $62.02 buying the marijuana, while dozens of people lined up along the front window of the store waiting to get their own. His was the first purchase at a retail marijuana store in El Paso County.

"It's an honor, this is a historical event," Mac Donald said. "It's a great thing for our community."

Maggie's Farm, at 141 Manitou Ave., is the first store in El Paso County to sell marijuana for recreational use after recreational sales were legalized across the state Jan. 1.

On Jan. 21, the Manitou Springs City Council voted 6-1 to allow recreational marijuana stores in the city and Maggie's Farm is the first to open. A second store had a conditional use permit approved by the council July 1.

Owner Bill Conkling announced last week that he hoped to open the Maggie's Farm Manitou Springs store Thursday. He received his local business license Monday and passed a building inspection Tuesday.

At 4:20 p.m. Thursday the store's "Open" signs flashed on.

Conkling, who was not able to make it to the shop when the doors officially opened because of a prior commitment, said later he was thankful for the opportunity to open the business.

"I commend the voters and elected officials for allowing us the chance to show that we can be a positive business for the city of Manitou," he said. He added that the time the store opened had a special significance. April 20, or 4/20, is an unofficial holiday celebrated by marijuana fans.

Inside Maggie's, Mac Donald made his way through an identification checkpoint before walking into one of two rooms with the sign: "Restricted access area. No one under 21 years of age allowed."

Once he was through the door, he looked through glass cases that included 21 different marijuana flowers and more than two dozen choices of edibles and concentrates.

Prices were set at $21 for 
1 gram, up to $420 for 1 ounce.

Outside, patrons lined up next to the building with white horizontal bars on the facade. More than 60 people were waiting outside, a little over an hour after the shop opened.

Dozens of people had stopped by Maggie's throughout the day, as the official opening time Thursday was unknown. Patrons came by in the morning to try to buy marijuana and a group of about 20 people started lining up near the entrance around noon.

People were eager to buy but were turned away until mid-afternoon. Cars were parked in front of the store's parking lot, preventing patrons from coming in to park.

Throughout the day, however, people were thrilled.

"Great day in history," said David Hathaway, who was outside the store hours before it was set to open. He eventually left instead of waiting. "I'm in no big hurry," he said.

Lawrence Basco, who showed up about 10:30 a.m., decided to stay around until Maggie's opened.

"I'm just hanging," he said in the middle of the day. Basco, who has multiple sclerosis, said he grows his own marijuana and smokes it for medicinal purposes. The difference in how he feels with and without marijuana, Basco said, "is night and day."

Around 5 p.m., more than seven hours after he arrived at the shop, he headed home with a purchase. More than 50 people were waiting in line with two hours to go before the store closed.

Workers put the finishing touches on Maggie's Farm throughout the day.

Red chairs were brought inside, doors and windows were cleaned and a "Maggie's Farm" sign was hung up on the front of the building.

Manitou Springs Police Chief Joe Ribeiro toured the store around 2 p.m.

Manitou Springs police officer Odette Saglimbeni, a department spokeswoman who toured the facility with Ribeiro, said their only concern about opening day was traffic congestion. Ribeiro returned after the store opened to watch the scene from across the street.

Employees of Citadel Security and Investigations were hired to help address traffic concerns, said Corey Hulse, a regional manager for the company. He helped direct traffic throughout the day and colleagues showed up around the store's opening to help with crowd control, parking and traffic.

Workers from Citadel were hired to help direct and manage traffic through Sunday, Hulse said.

In addition to the parking lot in front of the store, overflow parking is available. The store is open from 8 a.m. to 
7 p.m. daily.

While the store's opening was met with fanfare, there is uncertainty for the future of retail marijuana sales in Manitou Springs.

A measure to prohibit marijuana sales in the city is on the November ballot, placed there after more than 460 valid signatures were turned in to the city's clerk and recorder's office.

City officials, like Mac Donald, are confident residents want the sales to continue.

"The majority of the people wanted this and I'm a true voice for the people," Mac Donald said. "And if this is what they want, then we're going to support them on that."


Contact Stephen Hobbs: 636-0115

Twitter @bystephenhobbs

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