Craig medical marijuana dispensary sees expanded client base
February 11, 2010
Craig — In a time when many local businesses are struggling, Craig Apothecary has quadrupled its business.
Since opening in August 2009, Craig's only medical marijuana dispensary has seen its client base jump from 20 to 60 individual patients.
Owner Shaun Hadley said the success has been spurred by the popular business model of helping patients receive recommendation cards online from an out-of-town doctor.
"Once we got that going, that's when the numbers really started to stack up," he said.
Hadley said local doctors weren't waiting with open arms.
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"There is not a whole lot of compassion from the doctors in this area," he said. "We spent a lot of time trying to find a doctor that would give recommendations to only very ill people. We weren't all for the 'rubber stamp' doctors."
Craig Apothecary hasn't seen any crime since opening, Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta told the Craig City Council during its meeting Tuesday night.
Council member Jennifer Riley expressed concern about the store after hearing reports of dispensaries in Denver being robbed or burglarized.
Vanatta reassured Riley that police are keeping watch over the shop.
Hadley and shop assistant Jessica Asplund attribute the increasing business and lack of crime to changing attitudes in the community toward their product.
"It was only at the first city council meetings that we had a lot of negativity," Asplund said.
Since that time, a growing number of patients from Hayden, Meeker and the rest of Moffat County have kept the two occupied.
"It's busy but not too busy," Hadley said. "The location allows us to give more individualized care and spend more time with patients."
Hadley said that unlike other dispensaries, Craig Apothecary "doesn't sweep the customer in and out."
"We like to be there for the client to answer any questions and see if the type of strain they have been using is working for them," Asplund said. "We want to keep the care on the patient as much as possible.
"There is a real medical need for this in the community."
Hadley considers Craig Apothecary unique in that "the police have kept their distance from the business," he said.
"It's really weird, actually," he said. "In Denver, the police have a big presence in the stores, coming in, checking things out and see how it's going, but the Craig police have been very hands off."
Between running their business and personal lives, Hadley and Asplund also keep watch on current legislation swirling in Denver regarding medical marijuana.
As more people apply for cards and dispensaries spring up around the state, specific issues such as dispensary regulations and qualifications of recommending doctors are garnering attention and potential legislation.
"We have to keep up with it everyday," Asplund said.
But despite controversy and stigma that sometimes come with operating in a highly-criticized industry, Hadley said he is proud to be a business owner.
"We're happy to pay taxes and do our part," Hadley said. "I feel like it legitimizes us."
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story contained an error that has been corrected.