by Cici Sharstrom
Colorado recreational marijuana sales have begun. Denver is a mecca for dispensaries, and once voters approved recreational marijuana sales, northern Colorado residents got used to commuting to Denver to purchase their bud, but not anymore. Located right here in Fort Collins, Choice Organics was proud to be the first state-licensed business in the nation to cultivate and sell marijuana, and now they have become the first adult-use retail store in Larimer County.
Established in 2011, Choice Organics was originally intended to be a small business catering to medical marijuana users. When Amendment 64 passed in 2012, owners Brian and Erica Freeman decided that opening up the store to recreational demands only made sense. Though they still find it essential to provide the same great medical service to its long-standing customers, the store officially began recreational sales on April 9.
Although the state allows residents to buy up to one ounce, Choice Organics is temporarily limiting it to 1/8th (3.5 grams) to ensure enough supply to meet customers’ needs. On opening day, the store only permitted a few users in at a time to prevent overflow. Colorado residents with a state license can finally enjoy purchasing marijuana for recreational enjoyment, though while the novelty is still new, be prepared for wait times up to 45 minutes.
One of the main topics of conversation concerning MJ sales is the taxation. Taxes on pot can be a little steep, especially for non-medical users. According to a study of revenue released June 9, the state has made over $22 million in sales, and $18 million in taxes since January on both medical and recreational. The revenue is increasing as the months go on, partly because of tourist business. Out of state adults can purchase and use marijuana within the state while they are here, and the 4/20 holiday saw a huge amount of tourism revenue from out-of-state celebrators.
However, people are happy to pay the price. According to a Coloradoan article, many customers of Choice Organics said that they’d gladly pay the higher prices for quality bud from a dispensary before going to the black market. Part of it is the convenience and novelty of being able to go to a store to pick out your pot. Large bowls of multi-colored nugs and salespeople using chopsticks to pick out your product is essentially a stoner’s candy shop. For a lot of people, the freedom of buying weed like you would fresh bakery items is a desire years in the making.
Colorado also makes it easy with dispensary coupons and advertisements found in free magazines around town. Dispensaries are beginning to create incentives for first-time recreational buyers, while continuing to provide discounts for the medical community. Choice Organics has two separate rooms for recreational and medical sales, which include separate hours and pricing. This is convenient for medical patrons who can continue to buy without the busy recreational traffic. However, recreational edibles are still illegal in Larimer County.
What will the flagship opening of recreational sales mean for the future of northern Colorado dispensaries? We will, and are, definitely seeing other dispensaries getting their licensing in order. Organic Alternatives was the most recent rec shop to open, and with the success of Choice Organics, many more will follow. Dispensaries will be like liquor stores. The checking of IDs and enforcement of laws is essential, but has been carried out very successfully.
Once edible sales begin, dispensaries will become magical emporiums for northern Colorado residents to exercise their right to recreationally toke.
Marijuana activists look at Colorado as a step towards the future. Like gay marriage, the change starts small. Once voters understand what the legalization of sales will do to boost an economy, they tend to get on board with the change.
Colorado has started the change, and as it spreads slowly across the state, so will it spread across the country. Recreational sales are a huge step for us, and we can only expect to see more states observe our progress and follow suit. Alcohol revenue being what it is, pot sales with proper mandates and rules can only help the economy.
If you’re a pro-MJ individual, a pot enthusiast, or a bud aficionado, be sure to take a trip out to Choice Organics. They are located on Smithfield Drive near Mulberry and I-25 behind the furniture stores. Recreational hours are 11-8pm on Monday through Friday, and 10-6pm on Saturdays. They are closed to recreational business on Sundays.
For more info, visit www.choiceorganicsinc.com.