Craig approves second-ever medical marijuana shop
Craig will officially have a new medical marijuana shop at the old Silver Building on West Victory Way.
At its regular meeting Tuesday night, Oct. 22, city council approved the new medical dispensary for Tumbleweed.
According to a public notice posted on the front door of the building, Tumbleweed Craig LLC requested Sept. 13 the city approve its medical marijuana dispensary license at 316 W. Victory Way.
In a September email, Craig City Manager Peter Brixius said city councilors planned to make a decision for or against the medical dispensary “once the city- and state-mandated applications, background screens, petition of neighboring property owners and zoning evaluation has been received and evaluated. The applicant will then be scheduled for a public hearing and the council will follow with an approval or denial of the application.”
The Tuesday night hearing saw several residents speak in favor of the proposal by CEO Mark Smith and Owner-Operator Sherri Marzario.
Tumbleweed Dispensary has multiple shops along the Western Slope, including De Beque, Carbondale, Avon and more.
“Having a property in Parachute where Tumbleweed does work, they seem to be a respectable operation,” said resident Tammy Thompson-Booker
Mark Leier said he’s owned various businesses in Craig for years before moving into the marijuana industry.
“In the last 10 years, I’ve been working in the marijuana industry,” Leier said. “In the last five years I’ve worked at Mark and Sherri’s shop in Steamboat…These are some very professional people to work for and I’d be very excited to see their business in town.”
Once the short public comment period was over, council brought Smith and Marzario back to the podium to talk shop.
Councilor Chris Nichols wanted to know how it would affect Tumbleweed’s business model if voters were to pass the city’s recreational marijuana ordinance and council were to change that ordinance in the future to require a percentage of marijuana sold in Craig be grown locally.
Such a local-grown policy could incentivize more small marijuana businesses and grow operations to start up and pay taxes in Craig.
“If that was started down the road, how would that affect your business?” Nichols asked.
“It’s a lot of infrastructure that’d need to be done,” Smith replied. “…I’d prefer to say no, but I wouldn’t run out of town if you made that requirement. I just ask you give us an ample amount of time.”
Nichols pressed Smith further.
“Give me a ballpark of how much time,” Nichols said.
“24 months,” Smith replied.
Mayor Jarrod Ogden was curious if Craig’s location along U.S. Highway 40 and Colorado Highway 13 would be enough to fuel demand.
Smith said that when using other store averages in towns of similar size to Craig, he expects to have about $4.6 million in sales. If Smith’s estimate holds true and voters choose yes on the city’s marijuana ballot questions, city coffers could be looking at about $200,000 in extra tax revenue each year from pot.
“We have a model. We modeled this store. It satisfied the model, so I think it will be quite successful,” Smith said. “…Otherwise we wouldn’t have bought a building and invested what we did, to be honest with you.”
Councilman Tony Bohrer asked if Tumbleweed would stay, should voters vote ‘no’ on their recreational marijuana questions, .
“Are you still going to open a medical marijuana store here?” Bohrer asked.
“Yes, we’re committed,” Smith replied.
Each year, Smith said they plan to do two scholarships for Moffat County High School and a year-long food drive for a small prize at the counter.
“If someone brings food up to the counter, they get a small discount,” Marzario said.
Before calling for a vote Tuesday night, Councilman Paul James announced he would be abstaining from the Tumbleweed medical marijuana application approval due to his future employment prospects in the marijuana industry.
“I’m going to be abstaining,” James said. “I’ll probably need a job after all this.”
Steve Mazzuca motioned to approve Tumbleweed with fellow Councilor Andrea Camp seconding before the motion passed with Bohrer as the only dissenting vote.
In the moments after the vote passed, Marzario said she is looking forward to getting started in Craig.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled,” Marzario said. “We are very excited to be in this town.”
Smith said he was looking forward to competing with Shaun Hadley’s Craig Apothecary, whose long history in Craig began with the first and only medical marijuana dispensary for almost a decade.
“I’m a big believer of the fact multiple businesses in marijuana play off each other and provide a lot more selection and variety,” Smith said.
Before the Tumbleweed hearings Tuesday night, Hadley asked council to consider rewording their proposed ordinance to allow him to obtain one of three recreational licenses should votes approve of the city’s recreational marijuana ordinance next month.
Smith said he feels like Hadley deserves that.
“We’ve been there,” Smith said. “There was a time when we were first … I feel where he’s at and he needs it.”
Smith said he hopes council listens to Hadley.
“I hope you listen to what he said,” Smith said to council of Hadley. “It certainly resonates with us.”