Oak Creek residents learn about burgeoning marijuana industry
Steamboat Springs — A group of Oak Creek residents Wednesday night learned how the town could benefit from Colorado’s ongoing marijuana experiment.
The town hosted a discussion that Mayor Nikki Knoebel said was intended to educate the community and help clear up some confusion. She said some residents falsely think a recreational marijuana store was moving into a downtown building. That is not the case.
The Oak Creek Town Board has approved two operators to run cultivation facilities to grow marijuana for recreational use. The town currently has one medical marijuana store where patients can purchase marijuana, and the town has not approved any recreational marijuana stores.
Two buildings are being overhauled to house the growing facilities. One is at 100 W. Main St. in the building where Dovetail Designs used to fabricate its furniture. Park Range Recreationals wants to utilize the back of the building and find a more suitable non-marijuana use for the front of the building, possibly a yoga studio.
CCC Management is overhauling the old kayak factory at 240 Arthur Ave. and adding a second story that will give them 16,000 square feet of space. Brian Rogers represented the company during Wednesday’s meeting and said the product would be exported from Oak Creek.
Rogers said the facility will create 40 jobs with an average salary of about $37,000. The lowest wage earner would make $12 per hour, and the highest paid job has a salary of more than $150,000. Rogers said the facility currently employs five full-time employees, and the new jobs already have resulted in three home purchases.
“They are members of the community,” Rogers said. “We are members of the community.”
Rogers said the old factory building is a bit of an eyesore and is being refurbished to fit in with the community, including landscaping that will be up to the town’s standards.
The facility will be equipped with a security system and cameras, and carbon filters will be used to keep the potent marijuana smell from leaving the building.
“We understand our responsibilities,” Rogers said. “We have a long history in the industry.”
Rogers’ company operates marijuana businesses in Breckenridge and Crested Butte.
Also speaking at the meeting Wednesday were Oak Creek’s town attorney Bob Weiss and Routt County Commissioner Tim Corrigan.
Breckenridge Town Manager Tim Gagen and Breckenridge Marijuana Enforcement Officer Brady Allen also were invited and spoke about the impacts of marijuana on their community.
Breckenridge has chosen to impose an additional 5 percent tax on recreational marijuana sales, which is expected to bring in $500,000.
“We get a lot of money,” Gagen said. “We pay for a lot of things we need to pay for related to the industry.”
The money pays for the enforcement officer and drug treatment programs.
Gagen has mostly positive things to say about the legalization of marijuana and its impacts.
He said marijuana has seemed to mellow out the drunken party crowd, and users seem to be policing themselves well.
“We believe that there is less violence relative to drinkers versus marijuana users,” Gagen said.
But Breckenridge has developed some concerns.
Gagen said they are concerned about it being a cash business due to marijuana businesses not being able to do business with banks.
There also have been instances of children coming to school smelling like non-smoked marijuana because their parents grow it at home.
“We’re working with the school district and a number of nonprofits to develop programs,” Gagen said.
Allen, the Breckenridge police officer, said there also are concerns with people manufacturing their own marijuana concentrate, which has led to explosions in some Colorado communities, including Steamboat Springs.
Allen said they have a lot of concerns about edibles, which can be unassumingly strong. Allen said there have been 30 cases of what they would consider marijuana overdoses. In one case, a man tried to jump off the third floor of a hotel, and in another, a man ate three brownies and spent two days in the hospital before he could say “what planet he was on,” Brady said.
Wednesday’s meeting was attended by about 25 people. Resident Carol Villa left saying there still are unanswered questions.
“I don’t know what will come of this,” Villa said. “We’ll see.”