Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Pot shops hit with calls since Monday

MATT STEINER Updated: December 12, 2012 at 12:00 am

Gina Hains paused for a moment, and answered the telephone at the Herb Shoppe Medical Center in western Colorado Springs just after noon Tuesday.

“Do you have a red card?” Hains asked the caller. “Do you have paperwork from a doctor?” she said then paused again. “There isn’t any place to buy (recreational marijuana) right now.”

Hains hung up the phone, and shook her head.

“That has been happening quite frequently since yesterday,” she said.

The manager of the medical marijuana dispensary at 3020 W. Colorado Ave. said people wanting to buy recreational marijuana have streamed into the Herb Shoppe since Amendment 64 passed on Nov. 6.

And that trend has only been magnified after Gov. John Hickenlooper’s proclamation Monday making the amendment legal.

The new law allows anyone 21 years of age or older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and up to six pot plants, as of Monday. Next, lawmakers will determine regulations for marijuana sales, while local governments ponder whether to “opt-out” of retail marijuana establishments. Colorado Springs is studying the issue and an El Paso County commissioner said the county will consider banning the industry in unincorporated areas.

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Luke Bonow, co-owner of Altitude Organic Medicine south of downtown Colorado Springs, said people have been seeking marijuana for recreational use.

“There were more right after the election,” he said. “They’d come in and say, ‘We’re here to buy some weed.’”

When asked if he’d be interested in turning his dispensary into a marijuana retail store. Bonow said that would be asking for trouble. He pointed to the current U.S. Department of Justice’s Controlled Substances Act.

“Any city that allows retail centers is just asking for federal intervention,” Bonow said.

After Hickenlooper’s proclamation Monday, U.S. Attorney John Walsh issued a statement saying, “Regardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on Dec. 10 in Colorado, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.”

Hains doesn’t share Bonow’s pessimistic outlook. She thinks recreational pot will go on sale in the state sometime in 2014 and hopes for “responsible regulation.”

Amendment 64 says that regulations must be adopted no later than July 2013.

According to Hains, dispensaries are best equipped to make the transition into the retail market and if they don’t, she believes Colorado Springs dispensaries will simply “go out of business.”

“We’re pushing for the dispensaries to be the first to get licenses,” Hains said. “We’ve paved the way. We’ve put the blood, sweat, tears, money and effort into getting to where we are.”

While those interested in opening a retail store will have to wait for regulations, one local business has already seen a jump in sales since the amendment was passed.

Erick David owns The Grow Store just west of downtown Colorado Springs and said sales of indoor gardening equipment such as grow lights, soils and hydroponic equipment has jumped “about 15 to 20 percent since November.”

“For us, 64 is probably one of the better things that could happen,” said David, who thinks the governor’s move will push his sales up another 5 percent.

David and his wife have owned the store since December 2009 and saw a similar boost in sales after medical marijuana constraints were eased in the city in 2010.

David said he welcomes the results of the new amendment.

“Let’s just do it,” he said. “The door’s already been broken down. You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.”

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