Craig native Shaun Hadley talks about his plan to open a medical marijuana dispensary in town. Hadley is a medical marijuana patient, and hopes to provide a local option for other patients in the area.
See Thursday's Daily Press for multiple views from community residents about medical marijuana.
Shaun Hadley was born in Craig and has lived here his entire life.
Hadley recently was laid off from his job as an electrician, but at 25, he wants to turn a problem into an opportunity.
He wants to do something that he thinks will make a positive difference in his community.
He wants to open a medical marijuana dispensary.
"I know some people are going to have a big problem with it, but it's not for them," he said. "It's for the people who deserve it, who are sick and need treatment."
His inspiration for opening a local outlet - which he plans to call Craig Apothecary, after a historical name for pharmacists - came from his frustration in trying to find someone who could provide his marijuana.
Hadley, a medical marijuana patient, said he chose the controversial treatment instead of prescription painkillers.
"When I was 21 years old, I severely herniated two discs in my back," he said. "They put me on all the pain pills, and I hated it. It made me unable to play with my son. I couldn't function. I didn't feel well."
Medical marijuana was a breakthrough, he said.
"It's been amazing," Hadley said. "It really has."
Legally, marijuana providers are known as caregivers.
A registered marijuana patient must designate someone as their caregiver for it to be legally recognized, but patients can choose anyone.
Caregivers aren't everywhere, though, Hadley said, adding he has traveled to and from Denver to purchase marijuana before, about a $100 roundtrip.
If he can be a local source, one that keeps costs down for people seeking treatment, then he can do some good, Hadley said.
"Marijuana can be dangerous if used irresponsibly," he said. "Vicodin can be a dangerous drug, yet it's prescribed across the board. We're not going to be drug dealers. I'm not just some guy looking to make a quick buck."
Hadley plans to address the Craig City Council at its Tuesday meeting with his business partner, who owns a dispensary in Longmont.
Their plan is to open a commercial storefront with minimal signage and grow marijuana themselves. The business would only sell to legally registered patients, Hadley said.
Hadley called the city clerk to put himself on the council's agenda the day after Craig Mayor Don Jones said the city should do something to stay ahead of the medical marijuana issue.
At the mayor's request, city staff organized a public workshop for the issue and others at 5:30 p.m., before the Tuesday meeting when Hadley plans to speak. The workshop and formal meeting will be at Craig City Hall, 300 W. Fourth St.
The mayor's concern was born out of the fact the state has no regulatory authority over medical marijuana dispensaries. Hadley's only requirement was to buy a sales tax license, the same required of any business.
If local communities want to regulate dispensaries - such as specifying where one could operate and what hours it could be open - they are on their own.
"I just figured it'd be coming sooner or later, and it was sooner rather than later, I guess," Jones said.
The mayor added he plans to keep an open mind regarding medical marijuana dispensaries until he sees how Hadley plans to keep his product away from those who aren't patients.
Jones said the city has about three pages of codes intended to limit the adult entertainment industry, but he isn't close to recommending the same treatment for medical marijuana.
One man he intends to ask for advice on the matter, however, does not support the concept.
"I'm frankly of the opinion that selling marijuana is against federal law," Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta said. "I'm not sure what, at this point, I would recommend to City Council. It's a sticky situation."
Despite potential legal obstacles, Hadley and his girlfriend, Jessica Asplund, 21, said making medical marijuana available to people who need it is the right thing to do.
"It's taxed, it's legal," Asplund said. "The people of Colorado voted for this. It's imperative that it's allowed because people need it. If anything, not having a medical dispensary facilitates the illegal drug trade because it's taken underground."
Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.